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Many fans of the Indigo Girls say their concerts are life-altering experiences, but few can match what happened to Heidi Timken and Leslie Johnson. The two attended a January performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco, and by the end of the show had agreed to form their own practice. On March 13, the former Miller, Starr & Regalia partners opened the law offices of Timken Johnson Hwang. “It was almost spontaneous,” said Johnson, who had been a partner at the real estate law firm since 1978. “As much as I love this firm — and I really do — there’s a creative urge to want to do your own thing.” The new firm will be a high-end business practice catering to a diverse mix of clients, including banks and title and construction companies. Elizabeth Hwang passed up a shot at making partner at Miller Starr to round out the trio. Johnson said the group did not set out to form an all-woman firm. Rather, she said, they came together as successful attorneys who love real estate, think somewhat differently and just happen to be female. But as the three have begun to see their plans materialize, by furnishing their Walnut Creek, Calif., offices just a few blocks from Miller Starr, Timken said she can’t help but see how they are breaking out of the traditional mold of the male-dominated firm. Timken said she is part of a second generation of women attorneys who have established themselves in the legal profession and are now taking leadership positions. “I take a sense of pride in being able to lay claim to that,” she said. With Timken and Johnson’s departure, Hwang said they leave behind just two female partners at Miller Starr, a medium-size 50-lawyer firm with offices in Walnut Creek and Palo Alto. After seven years at the firm, Hwang said she was not disgruntled working at Miller Starr but knew immediately after Timken and Johnson pitched her on starting their own firm that she would accept. The youngest of the three, Hwang saw an opportunity to set an example both for women and ethnic minorities. “This was one of the big appeal points for me,” Hwang said. “If I can be motivating or inspiring to other minority women, that’s fulfilling to me.”

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