I was able to sit down with VanFleet Settlements owner, Sara L. VanFleet to discuss her company as well as her origins in the legal community.
AALM: Tell us what first drew you to the legal industry? To structured settlements?
VanFleet: I was in the midst of finding my way into corporate America, after graduating from college on the east coast and moving to Arizona, when the concept of structured settlements was introduced to me. I have to admit I had no idea what it was or how it worked, but something intrigued me and 12 years later I can’t imagine doing anything else.
AALM: Tell us about the founding of VanFleet Settlements?
VanFleet: My interest in the plaintiff side of the structured settlement industry began during my years at a previous firm. Realizing I truly enjoyed dealing directly with the attorneys and their clients and believing that I could provide a higher level of service, gave rise to VanFleet Settlements. I feel very blessed for the last five years and grateful for the support and relationships that have helped grow my company.
AALM: How would you describe the culture or the brand of the company?
VanFleet: Personal. My name and reputation mean a great deal to me. I was taught to be a strong, proud, intelligent woman and to expect a lot from life. I work hard to meet and exceed the expectations my clients have for a broker in this industry. When people think of VanFleet Settlements I want them to know I personally handle all aspects of each case from start to finish to ensure those expectations are met every time. I am proud of that.
AALM: How do you balance your time between aiding clients and running a business?
VanFleet: I have taught myself to be an exceptional multitasker. In today’s world with all the technology, things are able to move a lot faster and my clients expect that. In order to have a successful business, you need the ability to handle five things at once and finish the entire process timely and correctly. Balancing time as an entrepreneur is essential to providing my clients superior service, keeping the business running smoothly and finding time for my lifelong passion of owning horses and competing in the sport as a competitive show jumper. There are many times, in the early hours of the day, that I will talk to a client from my saddle while my horse kindly waits for us to resume our training. I have found if you truly want to excel, you have to put in the time above and beyond what may be convenient.
AALM: What changes do you see developing in the legal industry that affect structured settlements? How can attorneys prepare for that?
VanFleet: Only positives ones. As structured settlements continue to show their strength against the extreme volatility of other investments in the market, the legal community increasingly utilizes them as a safe, guaranteed, tax-free investment option for clients.
AALM: What do you enjoy most about working with attorneys?
VanFleet: The different challenges and circumstances of each case presented to me by an attorney makes my job extremely rewarding. Every settlement presented to me has a multitude of moving parts and personalities. Each is different and requires special attention; it always keeps me thinking and looking forward to the next one.
AALM: What is the biggest challenge you face in your industry? How do you overcome it?
VanFleet: Making sure I keep structured settlements in front of attorneys as an option to be discussed in all personal injury settlements and not just for minors and catastrophic cases. There is a big misconception that structures are only effective in those limited scenarios. However, with the extreme roller coaster the investment markets can suffer, there are so many other types of cases in which structured settlements can provide an excellent tool to achieve superb results.