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Intellectually Fearless®

We believe that valuable expertise for an attorney is a byproduct of education, experience, hard work, creativity, talent, and passion. We do more than just encourage our attorneys to achieve these skills — we make them intellectually fearless

We seek to make our attorneys INTELLECTUALLY FEARLESS®.   This means that we will train them in a way that prepares them to not only meet our clients’ needs but exceed them all while practicing at the highest level of the legal profession.

  1. We try to hire lawyers from the top law schools in the world.  Indeed, the heads of our Tax, Litigation, and Not-For-Profit Practices, and the founder of our Real Estate practice, are all graduates of Harvard Law School.  In addition, in a statistic that we don’t know what to make of, by happenstance, over 25% of the equity partners in the Firm are graduates of Harvard Law School.  We suspect this is probably more than any other law firm of significant size.  

  2. Our junior lawyers who come to us from law school all must graduate from DSU (Duval & Stachenfeld University) – now upgraded to be called “DSU3.0”.  This training, which is taken very seriously, is interactive in nature and is focused on the things that attorneys typically do not learn in a law school setting, such as: negotiation, working with adversaries, thinking on one’s feet, interactive skills, pleasing clients, and doing excellent legal work no matter what the cost. Notably DSU3.0 includes training in critical skills for associates, such as marketing and client development.  We expect lawyers to attend at least 15 classes in their first year at the Firm.  

  3. In recent years we have developed an Apprentice Training Program, which is intended to replicate the intensive training some of our most senior lawyers experienced early in their careers.  Sometimes there is no better way to learn than by doing “everything” with a true “master” and learning the essence of the legal craft from the foot of the tree of knowledge in real-time as deals and other complex matters unfold.  Although this is a new program, we think this may be the “best” way to train the future superstars who will someday be the great lawyers practicing at the Firm.

  4. We encourage all of our attorneys to gain as much background knowledge of the real estate industry as possible.

  5. We believe that young lawyers should not be “crippled” by being shunted into a single practice area (i.e. pure lending – pure leasing – pure development, etc.).  Instead, we make a commitment to ensure that all of our junior lawyers are exposed to work at all levels of the capital stack.  This way, in roughly five years, our attorneys emerge as “complete” real estate lawyers, who understand it all.  

  6. On the drawing board but not yet enacted, is a plan to have our real estate attorneys take real estate business courses to gain industry knowledge.  We hope to roll out this program soon.  

  7. With respect to administrative personnel, we mine for talent – just as we do with the lawyers.  When we see talent in our new hires, we promote them to positions of greater importance and train them for these positions.  Indeed, most of our administrative management team started at the entry but developed expertise and training over the years to become extremely expert and knowledgeable in how to run the Firm effectively and efficiently.

  8. Finally, we believe that part of the education of lawyers at the Firm is to (i) deeply learn the Values and their meaning and (ii) impart these Values to others.  Only in this manner will the culture of the Firm continue to grow as time goes by and new lawyers enter the Firm. The most critical part of this education is the realization that without the Values we simply are nothing at all but a bunch of lawyers sharing office space until someone gets a better job offer.

A Duval & Stachenfeld attorney cannot be an “average” lawyer going through the motions, but must be (i) thoroughly knowledgeable about the business environment in which our clients function, (ii) an impassioned advocate for our clients, and (iii) a powerful force for building the strength and depth of our culture.  These ingredients can never be learned in law school or at another law firm, but is something we largely have to teach ourselves.

Finally, for the benefit of our clients, it is important to emphasize that we believe that our clients should not pay for the training of our young associates.  To that end we have lowered the billing rates for first year associates to a rate which is less than almost all major law firms charge for paralegals.  Our clients have appreciated this greatly.  

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