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Mixing It Up Stacy Fode Discusses the Beauty of Diversity in Litigation and the Brown Law Group

It was the millionaire Malcolm Forbes who famously encapsulated the true power of diversity when he described it as “Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”  For Stacy Fode, Partner with Brown Law Group, this definition couldn’t be any more accurate, nor could the diversity in her professional life yield any greater rewards.  From the internal diversity of the Brown Law Group, to the out-of-the box business principals the firm practices, to the wide range of business litigation and employment law the firm specializes in, to the clients represented by her and her colleagues; variety is indeed the spice of life.

Diversity as Art

“I was attracted to law (as opposed to other fields) because I liked the idea that I could do something to make a difference in people’s lives and society as a whole. I also liked the variety in law—no two cases are the same—and what I do day-to-day varies greatly, which I enjoy,” Fode says when reflecting on her decision to become an attorney.  Since that time, she’s spent her professional career savoring that perfect blend of service and diversity.

Fode, who has been with Brown Law Group since its inception in 2003 (and worked at its predecessor firm, Vantage Law Firm prior to that), was the first in her family to obtain a post-college degree, earning her JD from the University of Oregon School of Law. Following her admission to the California Bar in 1998, Fode spent the early years of her career as an Associate with San- Diego based Smaha & Daley, before finding her niche with the team that would become Brown Law Group.

“Brown Law Group specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on employment law,” Fode explains.  “Our niche is defending companies of all sizes—from small to Fortune 100—in their employment and business litigation matters in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. We also emphasize what we call preventative law, which involves working with companies to prevent employment lawsuits,” she explains. “My specialty is the representation of business clients in all aspects of employment law cases including wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, whistle blower, and wage and hour matters,” Fode adds.

With such a broad range of services, and just seven attorneys comprising the boutique firm, how is that Brown Law Group attracts the type of Fortune 50, 100, and 500 clients that it does?  According to Fode, much of it is due to the unique business practices and principals of the firm, under the direction of its Founder, Janice Brown.

“We attract incredible attorneys,” Fode says. “Our lawyers have been asked to work in international, national, and large firms, but have chosen Brown Law Group because of its commitment to excellence and its

positive work environment,” she adds. As a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) by the National Minority Supplier Development Council and as a Women-Owned Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE) by the Public Utilities Commission-State of California Utility Supplier Diversity Program, Fode is proud that the diversity of the team she works for is often initially what draws in some of the firm’s larger corporate clients.

Initiatives to support diversity in corporate business are in abundance, and with good reason.   “We give a different perspective,” Fode says simply, in regards to why a firm such as Brown Law Group would appeal to government and national corporate clients alike. But that different perspective isn’t just a by-product of the diversity of the attorneys themselves. It’s also a direct result of how Brown Law Group runs its firm.

Thinking Independently Together

“We are team oriented, rather than in competition with each other,” Fode says of the collaborative effort of the firm. “Our boutique size works to the client’s advantage as every member of Brown Law Group knows the client, and that status of the client’s case,” she adds.  Moreover, the team shares a unified commitment to preventative law meaning that whenever practicable, the team helps its clients to avoid lawsuits.  However, Fode is quick to point out that clients are attracted to the fact that unlike other firms which may emphasize preventative law, the attorneys at Brown Law Group have substantial trial experience.  “We are fierce, but practical advocates, if a lawsuit must proceed,” she explains.

It’s no coincidence that the focus on prevention seems more like a business plan than a plan to make-a-profit-at-any-cost strategy.  And that’s because Brown Law Group is run like a business, something that obviously appeals to its business clientele.  “Attorneys submit their billable hours on a daily basis, billing only for time spent in accordance with our clients’ written billing practices.  We never charge for faxes or copies.  We are extremely organized, to the point of invoices being sent to the client by the fifth day of each month,” Fode explains.  “Cases are carefully staffed so that we accomplish our tasks well in advance of the due dates, often with drafts presented to clients a week in advance,” she adds.

Because of the team effort and highly efficient systems in place, it’s not surprising that Brown Law Group resolves an overwhelming majority of its clients’ disputes, well before trial is necessary. In fact, through mediation and motion summary judgments, a whopping 95% of Brown Law Group’s cases will never make it to trial.  Estimating the number of disputes prevented altogether as a result of Brown Law Group’s commitment to educating their business clients is frankly impossible. But suffice to say, the referrals the firm receives from satisfied clients, combined with the types of clients the firm attracts, is proof enough of the value of Brown Law Group’s preventative law practices.

Given the diverse make-up of the team of attorneys at Brown Law Group, it’s understandable that outside of business hours, the group’s passions and commitments are as diverse as their client base. “Brown Law Group’s attorneys are very active in both the San Diego legal community and give many, many hours to charitable and non-profit organizations,” Fode says proudly.  Fode for example, has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Bar Association, as a past president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, and is an active member in dozens of other professional organizations. She’s also involved in many community associations such as the Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council, I Love A Clean San Diego (where she is honored to offer pro bono legal services), and served as a coach for the University City High School mock trial team.

A rewarding professional career, coupled with a fiercely strong commitment to the benefits of diversity, Fode’s natural thirst for variety is sated by blending the personal with the professional.  Married to Dr. Matthew Spydell, an oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Fode is a proud mother to a 5- year-old daughter and is eagerly anticipating the arrival of her son in early 2012.  In her time away from work, Fode enjoys time at the beach, yoga, spending time with family and friends, and mentoring other women lawyers, particularly those who are balancing the demands of being a working mother. Because that’s who she is; an attorney as inherently diverse personally as the team she collaborates with professionally at Brown Law Group.


Stacy L. Fode
600 B Street, Suite 1650
San Diego, CA 92101

Karen Gorden

Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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About the Author: Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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