Mitchell Shen of the Law Office of Mitchell H. Shen sat down with Attorney at Law Magazine Los Angeles to discuss his solo practice and the paths that drew him to the practice of law.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Shen: I first knew I wanted to become an attorney when I was 13 years old. My father was arrested in a foreign country that lacked proper due process, and, as a result, he was incarcerated. Growing up knowing the injustice that exists, and watching as my family struggled because of it made me decide to get involved in the law. It was this experience that taught me the importance of a just court system and instilled in me a desire to help individuals fight for their rights. That’s what drew me.
AALM: Describe your early career. Did you work for a law firm prior to opening your own firm? What lessons did you learn from these early experiences?
Shen: I spent my first couple of years working at other smaller firms before opening my own firm. It was those formative years that I spent learning the ins and outs, and applying my law school knowledge to real cases. That experience, especially my time with the Law Office of Jeremy R. Frost & Associates, really set down the roots for my future practice. Being in court every day, handling tough cases, and having a mentor guide me through the process prepared me for when it was time to open up shop.
AALM: What compelled you to start your own practice?
Shen: I started my own practice because I wanted to focus more on quality than quantity. My previous experience in private law firms gave me a glimpse at how law firms can become very impersonal and lose touch with the client’s individual story. I swore that I would build a practice that develops a strong professional relationship, and addresses each individual’s separate facts, because as we all know, each case is different.
AALM: What challenges have you encountered since going solo and how have you overcome them?
Shen: Going solo was a challenging transition from handling cases to managing an entire firm. I had to change the way I thought from strictly being an attorney, to also running a business. Part of building the business from the ground up, was the lack of an established system that larger firms or more established firms already have in place. Using a little ingenuity, experience, and post-it-notes, I’ve been able to put in place a method of organization that has kept cases up-to-date and prevented any of them from falling into the cracks.
AALM: How would you describe the firm, the brand you are building?
Shen: My firm has a clear focus on customer service, and quality work. One of the biggest complaints I hear about Immigration attorneys is that clients never hear from the attorney after the initial consultation, or they have no idea what is going on with their case. I go out of my way to ensure I know every one of my clients, and schedule extra time to speak in detail with each client about their individual case. My goal is to have clients associate my firm with an attorney who is accessible and one who provides quality work.