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Local Focus, Universal Expertise

Higgs Fletcher & Mack’s Time Tested Values Coupled with A Sophisticated New Style Is A Perfect Microcosm of The City It Calls Home.

For more than 70 years, Higgs Fletcher & Mack has stood as a pillar of legal stability in San Diego.  With a history reaching back to 1939, the firm is not only one of the oldest law firms in the city, but today is one of the largest.  However impressive those statistics are, they are not the defining characteristics of the firm.  Instead, what sets Higgs Fletcher & Mack apart is its ability to identify the needs of the citizens and the businesses of San Diego, and most importantly, its willingness to adapt and evolve to meet those needs.  In a twist of irony, it is precisely Higgs Fletcher & Mack’s flexibility that has made them so stable.

Adaptability As A Tool For Growth

To John Morrell, Chairman and Managing Partner of Higgs Fletcher & Mack since 1997, being flexible means that the firm abides by a principle of constant awareness to ensure that it is always providing the services that the people of San Diego specifically need. “In the last ten years, the firm has greatly evolved to focus on the San Diego region, and the business community within it; we have been built to handle what happens here,” says Morrell.  While “local focus” is a pillar of their business, so is their “universal expertise,” which has allowed them to have an impact beyond the San Diego region. “It might be something that comes cross border with Mexico or Latin America, handled by our Cross Border Team, or conceivably from China, where we have added talent to address that expanded need.”

“We are very mindful of what our community looks like.  San Diego’s main business thrust is small and medium-sized businesses.  There are very few Fortune 500 businesses with headquarters in San Diego.  We are a middle market community. “

That means, of course, that there are certain costs those businesses are able to absorb when it comes to their legal needs, and Higgs Fletcher & Mack is committed to providing those services at prices that their clients can afford.  Moreover, the firm is committed to being highly in-tune with the economic climate in San Diego, whatever that may be.  “We have to change the way the economy changes. Internally, our business has had to change to represent the new economy,” he says.

Diversity Drives Development

In response to San Diego’s drastic cosmopolitan shift over the decades since Higgs Fletcher & Mack’s inception, the firm has made it a point to ensure that the skill sets, and, indeed, the composition of the attorneys of the firm mirror the ever-changing demographics of the city.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack has accomplished this through numerous diversity initiatives.  For years, the firm has been a sponsor of minority bar group events, including Lawyers Club of San Diego, Tom Homann Law Association, Earl Gilliam Bar Association, Jackie Robinson Y, and the Iranian American Bar Association.  Similarly, the firm was one of the first in San Diego to sign the San Diego County Bar Association Diversity Pledge in 2007.  This pledge serves as a guideline for fostering diversity within the legal profession in San Diego.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack took this basis of the pledge one step further, and implemented a Diversity Committee within its own practice to remain committed to the importance of an increasingly diverse law firm.  Further, in 2010, the firm publicly declared its dedication to diversity through the establishment of a $10,000 Diversity Scholarship at the University Of San Diego School Of Law, making it the first of its kind at USD.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack clearly demonstrates its commitment to diversity in the community at large. Not surprisingly, the firm’s outward efforts perfectly mirror the inner workings within the walls of the Columbia Center, which houses the firm’s nearly 70 attorneys.  Diversity is unequivocally the driving force in the firm’s ongoing development and continuing success.

Like Attracts Like (Mindedness)

“We don’t hire labor,” says Morrell.  “When we are looking for a new hire, we are looking for someone who has a skill set that will enable them to move up the ladder to ownership.  We expect those who come in for a position to have a skill set that we need.  We aren’t just trying to fill a certain labor need.  We hire those with raw talent, and then nurture them so that they build and grow their own practice. If we don’t specialize in a certain area of practice, we want them to be excited that they can grow their own,” he adds. Because of the firm’s eagerness and dedication to nurturing new attorneys, it’s not surprising that Morrell doesn’t worry about talent being romanced away by a competing firm.

Of course, all potential hires are subject to a high level of scrutiny prior to being brought on board with the firm.  “We need to make sure that not only are they a good lawyer, but they are a good person,” Morrell says.  “The Firm Management allows lateral talent that has been vetted for excellence in skill and compatibility to run their own practices consistent with the Firm’s standards without micro management.”  For this reason, Higgs is an attractive place for an attorney with their own book of business. This fluid management style is paying off for Higgs Fletcher & Mack and, more importantly, for their clients.  The firm, which lists more than 20 practice areas on its newly designed website, recognizes the importance of expanding its practice in order to serve its clients as well as its new and longstanding attorneys.  Indeed, this vast scope of practice areas positions the firm to handle all or most of a specific client’s needs, rather than forcing them to go to multiple law firms to have their legal needs met.

An Evolving Image for An Ever Evolving Firm

As for the new look, logo, branding and marketing efforts Higgs Fletcher & Mack unveiled in May of 2012?  It’s all just a part of the firm’s long history of keeping up with the times.  The updates to its website reflect its growing pool of attorneys and their various interests and passion projects.  But most importantly, the sophisticated new look is a direct reflection of the changing dynamics of the city of San Diego that Higgs, Fletcher & Mack intends to serve for at least another 70 years.

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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