A message from Anna Fiorvento
I decided to open my own firm because I wanted revolutionize the legal field. I wanted to offer legal services at affordable rates. While many firms target the “big fish” clients, my firm is for the everyday person. Also, I wanted to help people our society tends to cast-aside and ignore, such as the young, old, sick, disabled, and injured. Finally, I wanted to create a firm that took a holistic approach to healthcare access, affordability, and benefits. A client’s health needs and goals are going to affect all other aspects of his or her legal affairs. Here at Fiorvento Law P.L.L.C., my goal is to be a one-stop-shop for all needs related to wills, trusts, estates, healthcare access and affordability, advanced care planning, elder law, and elder rights.
Taylor Ann (Anna) Fiorvento has always been a trail blazer. She was one of the first students in Michigan to complete two associates’ degrees before her high school diploma, she was the first person in her family to complete her bachelor’s degree, and she was the first recipient of the Albion Law Scholar’s Award at I.U. Robert H. McKinney School of Law (a full-tuition scholarship).
After law school, Anna married her husband and moved to Traverse City. While looking for her first associate position, she realized something strange:
“I was shocked how few firms practiced health law or elder law. There was some, but not as many as one would think given the need in TC area. There were quite a few firms that did some variation of health law (such as Social Security appeals or medical malpractice) but not enough to meet the demand. Alternatively, almost everyone practiced wills, trusts, estates, & probate (or some combination of these fields). But my thought was ‘How do you plan someone’s estate without also making detailed plans for their long-term healthcare goals and needs? Someone who simply wants palliative care is going to need an entirely different financial and estate plan than someone who wants to pursue experimental treatment.’”
Anna decided she wanted to be a trail blazer again:
“I saw an undeserved market: health law. But not just health law. Traverse City needed a firm that takes holistic approach to health and estate planning. While there were some attorneys in Traverse City serving this niche, there were not enough for the need. So I decided to start my own firm specifically serving this niche for my clients!”
Anna started planning her firm and learning how to run a law firm:
“Through my study, I identified a few emerging trends: (1) larger firms can struggle to adapt to changes in the market (which is partly why so many closed or broke up during the Great Recession); (2) it’s very hard to change the culture of a large firm or do things differently (the legal field is notorious for slow adaptation of technological advancements); (3) large firms simply don’t have the time to train new associates like they used to (while working at a firm after graduation used to be a necessary part of legal education, similar to a doctor’s residencies, this simply isn’t the case in post-great-recession firms); (4) large firms tend to focus on the needs of the ‘big fish’ client opposed to the ‘average Joe’ and (5) people always need affordable attorneys. I wanted to build a firm from the ground up that addressed these issues, planned for them, and actively fought to prevent them. If I could create prove the effectiveness of this new business model, I could revolutionize the legal profession.”
Anna knew who she wanted to help:
“I have three great loves in this life: God, my husband, and health law. I have a particular devotion to Saint Ives, one of the patron saints of lawyers, who dedicated his life to helping people that society had cast aside; especially the poor, orphans, and widows. When it comes to health law (especially health care access and affordability); our society has cast aside the poor, sick, extremely young, and elderly.
While many lawyers offer legal services to these groups, they often charge high rates that clients struggle to afford. This isn’t because these lawyers are greedy, it’s because practicing law using the “typical” model is expensive. A lawyer might have to charge a high hourly rate just to break even on operating expenses, let alone take home any pay for her work.
I wanted to offer legal services at a dramatically lower rate than anyone else out there. A rate that would allow me and my family to live in comfort, thereby serving my husband and family; but would also allow me to help the poor and meek; thereby serving God. While also being able to do what I love and practice health law!”
But to do this, Anna realized she would need a radically different business model for her firm:
“The fact is, if your lawyer has a large office on prime real estate, extensive landscaping, professionally-designed interior decor, and so on; your lawyer isn’t paying for those things- you are! If an attorney has a high overhead, that overhead is getting built into their rates. This isn’t to say that attorneys’ services aren’t worth what they are charging, but they aren’t taking home what they are charging you. A large portion of those fees are going towards overhead.
If I could keep my overhead low, I could pass those savings onto my clients. Therefore I decided to adopt the “online” or “mobile” office model. I don’t have a permanent office. In the sharing economy, it’s easy and cheap to rent a meeting room for a few hours, so that what I do instead! In addition, I offer free in-home visits for mobility-impaired clients. Finally, I conduct much of my business with clients via phone, email, or mail. This model allows me to keep my rates low, and pass those saving onto my clients! It also allows me to take clients all over the state.”
Anna stressed that cost-saving was not the only benefit to clients:
“This system is more convenient for clients as well. In the “typical” law firm business model, a client needs to get in their car, drive somewhere, battle traffic, snow, and inclement weather, find parking, walk inside (sometimes through rain or snow), wait in a lobby, just to talk to their attorney for a few minutes or sign a document. The entire process is time-consuming, mentally exhausting, and physically difficult; especially for people that are mobility-impaired.”
“Whereas at Fiorvento Law P.L.L.C., I send the client a document in the mail or online, they have time to read it over and call me if they have questions, they sign it, and send it back to me.
Of course, I am always happy to meet with clients in person if that’s what they prefer or the situation requires. But the fact is, most clients would rather not add errands to their day, and would prefer to make their legal meetings as quick, efficient, and streamlined as possible.”
“Overall the ‘online’ or ‘mobile’ business model is a win-win for my clients, they save money, they save time, and in general it is much more convenient!”
However, Anna wanted to revolutionize the online and mobile model as well:
“A lot of young attorneys, especially post-great-recession, use ‘online’ or ‘mobile’ as code for ‘I just can’t afford an office space right now.’ And when business picks up, they set up an office and increase their rates to match. I don’t want this for my firm. My business plan involves long-term, slow, and sustained growth; only adopting elements of the “typical” model when doing so will save the firm (and therefore the client) money.”
“When I expand, the expansion will be for the end of reducing overhead or increasing firm efficiency. If it’s cheaper to have a permanent location than to rent meeting space, then I will look into investing in office space. If an investment would allow me to serve more clients in less time I would rather do that than increase my hourly rate. And before I make any major changes I will seek my clients’ opinions and feedback. What services do they like? What can be improved? What would they like to see the firm do? Every firm owes its existence to its clients, so they have to be part of the expansion process as well.”
Anna had some final thoughts to add:
“I’m young and I’m still learning, but that’s okay. More than anything I want to be adaptable to the market and my clients. There’s no way around it, law firms are businesses, and like any other business they need to respond to the market or they won’t last.”
If I can build (and prove) a new model which is built around affordable legal services, hopefully, other firms will be able to follow suit, and legal services will become more affordable for everyone!
In my heart of hearts, I think the legal profession can be a noble profession once more, and overcome the negative stereotypes that have been attached to lawyers over the years. I am proud to be an attorney and I am honored to help my clients. Every day I strive to become a better attorney, live with honesty and integrity, and adhere to a moral code that respects the dignity of all people.”
Let me see what I can do for you!
801 S Garfield Ave #308
Traverse City, MI 49686