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D.C.’s Kalbian Hagerty has grown from three lawyers to 14 lawyers since its founding on Feb. 1, 2000. Under the direction of co-founders Haig Kalbian and James Hagerty, the firm has built a general civil litigation practice handling both plaintiff and defense work and represents businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals locally, nationally, and around the world. Why did you decide to start your own practice? We first met as young boys in Jerusalem in 1966. Throughout the years, we kept in touch and followed one another’s careers. Haig Kalbian established himself as a solo practitioner in Washington, D.C., in 1989 (Haig V. Kalbian & Associates). By 1997, his firm had grown to three lawyers and was focusing mainly on general civil litigation. At the same time, Jim Hagerty was working as both a tax lawyer and a corporate/transactional lawyer. Hagerty launched his legal career with the D.C. firm Burt, Maner & Miller, where he represented multinational companies and high-net-worth individuals in cross-border taxation issues. In 1996, Hagerty joined the Washington, D.C., office of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, where he diversified his practice to include corporate and transactional law. We began to refer work to one another in 1997 and soon realized that a blending of our two practice areas might have the makings for a successful partnership. In 2000, we made the decision to form our own firm because our practices and personalities meshed very well together. We also felt that operating our own business would give us the freedom and independence to build a practice incorporating the best parts of our collective experience. Tell us about your clients. We have a very broad range of clients including public and private U.S. corporations, foreign governments, foreign corporations doing business in the United States, nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and individuals, many of whom have international business interests. The geographic location and citizenship of our clients is diverse and ranges from local D.C., Maryland, and Virginia clients to clients based in such places as Dubai, London, Los Angeles, Knoxville, and New York. Since the formation of Kalbian Hagerty, we have also attracted a number of high-net-worth individuals from all over the world who use the firm’s corporate, tax, and estate-planning services. A significant addition to our firm during the last year was Muddassir Siddiqui, who until last year served as legal adviser to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Siddiqui’s clients include large public companies and money center banks. He advises clients on a number of international issues including the application of Shariah (Islamic) law to securities transactions, foreign exchange, hedging, and investment management. We have also brought in a few lawyers who augment our capabilities in the fields of government affairs, immigration, and securities law. Where do you find your clients? Most of our business is developed through referrals from existing clients and other professionals. We have developed a wide network of business contacts in the United States and abroad. The firm’s mission � to deliver first-class legal services to its clients in an ethical, honest way � results in more work from existing clients and attracts new ones. Firm attorneys also participate in a wide range of bar, pro bono, and other activities that result in new clients. One such project in which we are currently involved is the Afghanistan Transitional Law Project. The goal of this endeavor is to rebuild and revise the legal system in Afghanistan. We are exploring many other opportunities, primarily in the Middle East. How do you measure business success? Like most service businesses we track revenues and expenses closely and focus on cash receipts. We maintain both cash and accrual books and compare the two on a regular basis to measure profitability and realization. Our rates are competitive. Our size and management philosophy allows us to be flexible regarding billing by the hour, negotiating an annual retainer, setting a fixed fee, or taking a matter on a contingency. We work with the particular client to negotiate a fee arrangement that best suits the nature of a particular matter. We reward senior lawyers and associates who bring in business and strongly encourage them to develop new business by establishing and expanding their own referral networks. We ask all attorneys to strive to bill a minimum of 1,750 hours a year. So far, the firm has maintained a highly leveraged partner-associate ratio, and that has worked well for us. No lawyer will become an equity partner without generating a significant amount of her or his own business. Since starting the firm, what are the biggest surprises that you’ve encountered? Our biggest and best surprise has been the performance of the personnel we have hired and are privileged to work with. Our talented business administration and support staff allow us to concentrate on practicing law and not on day-to-day business administration. The senior attorneys and associates we have hired are outstanding, and we have several “home grown” associates we are very proud of. One young lawyer recently won a major summary judgment motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Nothing is more rewarding than to watch lawyers, whose training you have guided, start producing results and developing their own clients. Another pleasant surprise is that our firm has grown and prospered despite the fact that it was formed just as the worst economic downturn since the 1930s began. We believe that this is attributable to the diversity of our client base and areas of practice. We hope to continue to grow and are considering opening our first overseas office this year.

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