Gail Mattey is the founder of Mattey Family Law, a comprehensive family law practice aimed at helping families craft reasonable solutions to challenges surrounding divorce, child custody and support issues, parenting time, property division, spousal maintenance, family mediation, and orders for protection. Mattey brings a unique perspective to her practice that facilitates compassionate advocacy that is also affordable.
From her first day at the University of Minnesota Law School, it was Mattey’s goal to open her own family law practice. She graduated and entered the profession during the turbulent years of the Great Recession. For the first eight years of her career, she worked as a law clerk in Hennepin County District Court, with six-and-half of those years in family court, working with Judge James T. Swenson, Judge Philip C. Carruthers and Referee Jason T. Hutchison.
What felt like an interim career step at first turned out to be an immense advantage. Mattey left the court to work with a small, private practice last year, and she realized she had acquired a unique repertoire of legal skills from her vantage point inside the court system. “As a law clerk, I was timid at first about stepping out on my own,” she said. “Not only would I be giving up a steady income with benefits, I also thought I didn’t know enough to practice on my own.”
After four months working for someone else, Mattey realized that not only were her fears unfounded, she had an edge. “I know the law. I also know how judges think, the kinds of things they look at when making decisions, and who they consult. It allowed me to be an effective practitioner right out of the gate.”
In March 2018, Mattey fulfilled her longtime dream and opened the doors of Mattey Family Law, where she is making quality legal representation accessible to families.
… the majority who didn’t qualify for free services but couldn’t afford the average family law attorney. Many of these people simply went it on their own.”
“During my time in the courts, I saw that there were three kinds of people in the system: those with little financial means who could qualify for free legal services; those with substantial means who could pay the average rate for a family law attorney; and the majority who didn’t qualify for free services but couldn’t afford the average family law attorney. Many of these people simply went it on their own. My focus is on serving the third population by providing affordable and effective representation to those who really need it.”
Mattey implemented an innovative fee structure she adopted from Women Venture, an organization that provides business loans and resources to women entrepreneurs. “I take an initial retainer from my client and write into the retainer agreement that after that retainer is exhausted, I will periodically invoice them. They put a credit or debit card on file in the beginning, and after invoicing, I will auto-deduct $200 to $400 every two weeks. They can stretch out payment for legal services, and over time, I create passive income from cases I’ve completed.”
Mattey has two more tips for practitioners starting out on their own: find a good, well-priced accountant, and invest in practice management soft ware, like Practice Panther, a legal management soft ware system that manages every aspect of Mattey’s business, from case documents to time records to invoicing and even aids in collecting automatic payments.
Along with Mattey’s well-reasoned legal analysis, clients benefit from her personal example as a successful co-parent. She gives clients hope that a happy future is possible after a divorce or family split. As part of that paradigm, she is passionate about helping fathers get back into their children’s lives.
“I’ve learned from judges that the courts do not have a bias against fathers, and a lot of men don’t know that. The goal is to have two active parents involved in the children’s lives.”
No situation is too complex for Mattey to handle. She listens to her clients free of judgment and helps them navigate the possibilities. “I was struggling with my own purpose when I found a quote, ‘Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.’ I feel I can share that with clients, too. This difficult time will end, and clear your path for something new.”