According to writer Pearl Buck, “To find joy in work, is to discover the fountain of youth,” and it would seem that’s precisely what the attorneys of The Storey Lawyers PLC have accomplished. The firm is made up of a collaborative group of highly trained and experienced lawyers. This small, but dynamic firm has been carefully crafted as a culture of mutual respect and sincere concern for each client as well as a place to celebrate diverse backgrounds and individual contributions.
Beyond the traditional practices of a general law firm, The Storey Lawyers have earned a reputation as the go-to firm for environment and natural resources, water rights and water management, and climate change and sustainability.
“We are definitely unique individuals with a variety of experiences that go beyond what you would typically expect of lawyers,” says partner Lee A. Storey. “We love that about our firm culture, and that is precisely what we choose to emphasize and develop. We don’t have to be in a big firm to provide high quality client representation. We really enjoy what we’re doing and enjoy one another as colleagues. It’s exciting to sit around the table, drawing on all of our collective experiences to explore the most practical and innovative solutions for our clients.”
“It’s a tremendous amount of fun,” adds partner Jason M. H. Storey. “There’s no shyness here, we have an interesting mix of personalities and we thought it would be fun to create a firm that does not necessarily fit into any typical box, where people are free to be themselves, both inside and outside the firm, while still providing cutting-edge legal advice. We create, we share, and we’re not afraid to use technology in seeking the best solutions for our clients.”
With a strong client base that extends around the globe, it’s not surprising that technology plays a significant role in the day-to-day operations. Jason is often based in South Africa, while the remaining attorneys operate from the Phoenix offices.
Formerly assistant general counsel of international law for GoDaddy, Jenifer Phelps acknowledges the significance of technology in their firm’s business dealings. “Technology is very important to us in our connectivity around the world,” she says. “When you are dealing with international licensing and mergers and acquisitions across the globe, you’re essentially on-call at all hours. This is nothing new, we are connected that way as a firm, and that’s what business requires today.”
To help offset this on-call status, the firm has implemented another important element that not only helps provide more balanced lives, but infuses these offices with a vibrancy and energy that’s nearly incomparable.
“I’ve been practicing law for almost 30 years here in the Valley,” Lee says. “It’s evident that the practice of law has definitely changed over the years. But life is not meant to be lived in six-minute increments, and when such a firm culture becomes so ingrained, you’re not going to have happy lawyers who enjoy the work they do for their clients. Flexibility mattered to me when I was raising children and flexibility allowed me to make an award-winning documentary film. People should have the opportunity to be at the important events in their family’s life, as well as pursue life interests beyond the practice of law. We don’t subscribe to the belief that face time within the four walls of the firm translates into becoming a good lawyer, especially in a digital age. Client work always comes first, that is and always will be our priority, but providing excellent legal services doesn’t mean being glued to a desk X number of hours. When it’s busy, we know how to work, and we pull together like a team. But when there are things that are important, that make life richer, all those things that build relationships and make us well-rounded people, we can be flexible.”
Of counsel Alexandra Arboleda, another important member of this team, specializing in water and natural resources law, concurs with the importance of the flexible work schedule.
“Let’s face it,” she says, “we are all adults, all dedicated, even passionate about our work, and we know what needs to get done and when. Working beyond the traditional required in-office hours allows us to actually better serve our clients. We aren’t as likely to burn out or become overwrought trying to maintain an impossible juggling act.”
“Not only do we enjoy a better quality of life,” adds Phelps, “but I believe that invariably extends to our clients. We work harder to make their lives easier, so they in turn have more quality time in their lives.”
Though they might be considered small when compared to huge law firms, The Storey Lawyers have no shortage of talent or resources. They pride themselves on their very personalized and hands-on approach to client relations.
“I feel our varied experiences give us a broader view of things,” says Phelps. “We stop looking at problems or issues in the abstract. We prefer to create building blocks for our clients, rather than road blocks.”
A recognized leader in the area of environment, water rights and natural resources law, Lee also has an in-depth understanding of Indian law issues.
“I love the practice of law,” she says, “because I’ve always had a strong sense of justice, and doing what’s right in our own lives and what’s right with other people.”
While earning her master’s degree in American Indian studies at UCLA, Lee became very interested in water issues on Indian reservations and that led her to law school. This gradually expanded to an interest in water quality issues and emerging concerns over water rights in general.
“I actually moved to Arizona for the opportunity to work in this emerging field,” she says. “There were very few, if any, women working in water rights at the time. Soon I was working with mining, energy companies, cities, ranchers and farmers, and all manner of clients, to help me better understand where we needed to be moving when it comes to water conservation and management. Although we’ve had great successes in Arizona, we still have a long way to go.”
Entrepreneurial by nature, Jason describes himself as someone who enjoys finding solutions to problems and seeing ideas go from concept into implementation. His background includes serving as associate general counsel of The McGraw-Hill Companies (now S&P Global) with extensive experience in domestic and cross-border business transactions, including significant M&A, licensing and new-market strategy work in Europe, South America and China.
“I felt that the legal world was a way for me to spread my wings and get involved in a wide array of businesses and mergers that I may not be engaged in personally, but those which my clients are engaged in,” he says.
One aspect of the law he finds particularly appealing is having the expertise, experience and opportunity to offer sound advice that’s not detached or abstract.
“The experience that Lee, Jenifer and I have had engaging in our own business endeavors, gives us a decided edge and insight into the emotional and financial aspects of any business venture,” he says. “While we might technically be standing on the outside of our clients’ businesses looking in, we still relate to all the issues involved on a personal level and we therefore have a better ability to successfully guide our clients to a successful result.”
“I have often felt that I was bred to be a lawyer,” she says with a laugh. “With all the attorneys in my family, I was negotiating the terms of my allowance at a very young age. Somehow it just feels innate.”
While still in college, studying French and history, Phelps had the opportunity to help out a friend who was trying to launch a new business.
“I sat down with her and helped her draw up a business plan, wade through all the paperwork, licensing, and setup, and realized how much I enjoyed helping people in this way,” she says. “Watching her follow her passion and succeed is what prompted me to go to law school, a path I had not really intended to take at the time.”
After leaving USC law school, Phelps primarily worked with startups and joint ventures in the corporate arena. After joining GoDaddy, she expanded her niche in corporate, marketing and international law. During her career, Phelps has spear-headed and managed entries and corporate compliance in more than 50 markets around the globe.
“When you can find passion in your work, the path becomes very clear,” she says.
Women-owned, and also certified as a minority business enterprise by the National Minority Supplier Development Counsel Inc., The Storey Lawyers take great pride in offering a variety of creative solutions to match the diversity of their clients and their needs.