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Speaking the Language of Real Estate, Business and the Law

The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is the team. – Phil Jackson

Robert P. Robinson, Esq. always wanted to lead his own legal team and firm, but early on realized that at the age of 25 with no law experience hanging out a shingle would be at best a risky way to begin a career. He invested the next five years working with a top firm, studying, applying his skills, listening to experienced mentors, and developing a client list before taking the step.
When he made the big move it was to a small, single rented desk in the office of a friend. When his associate moved on to another market, he took over the entire office. Soon Robinson, as Managing Partner, was joined by a member of his former firm, Dennis Hickman, now Of Counsel. Kyle Yaege, Partner, joined their legal team four years later. The three have created something of an "all-star team" for clients seeking attorneys who speak the language of business as well as the language of the law.
The firm primarily represents business owners, about half of those clients are in real estate such as developers, contractors, brokers, agents, property managers, property owners, hotel owners, architects, investors and in other related fields. The businesses in the other half of their client list varies greatly and ranges from large international companies, to mid-size firms, and sole proprietors operating out of their home. Their clients are in a wide variety of businesses including medical, dental, legal, biopharmaceuticals, restaurants, marketing, technology, web-based businesses, sale of goods, athletes, entertainment and entrepreneurs.

One of the key advantages of Hickman & Robinson, LLP is the ability of the management team to "speak business" as well as understanding the equally complex terminology of the law. Robinson was a business major and worked as a real estate agent to pay his way through school and he is still an active investor in real estate and other business ventures. "I like my clients and I think they like me in part because we have a common bond through our business experiences. We have shared many challenges that, if I had worked only in the legal profession, I would never know of or could truly understand," Robinson says.
All the members of this three-attorney team are or have been owners of businesses outside the legal field. Robinson and Yaege have practical experience as real estate brokers. Hickman was in the military and ran his own legal practice.
Clients, especially real estate professionals, like that their attorneys understand their unique real estate terms and in-practice day-to-day procedures because it increases efficiency, accuracy and the likelihood of "success," however the client defines that term.
Robinson says, "Some attorneys will kill the deal because all they do is point out the problems. But we know the value of a deal. We know the value of the transaction. We know what they're really trying to accomplish. We'll advise as to the risks, but we'll also propose solutions. We understand that sometimes they have to weigh the business benefit vs. the legal detriment."
The firm is positioned for growth and is looking for their next talented attorney to join their legal team. Their plan is to remain a relatively small, but very efficient and aggressive firm providing top quality service personalized to individual clients.
They are perhaps unique in their approach to recruiting new members to their legal team. They do not adhere to the typical stringent quantitative benchmarks to grade a potential attorney's value. Those factors are important, but only part of the evaluation. Hickman and Robinson places a high value on intangibles, such as rewarding production vs. demanding it. "That may seem like a fine line, but it's a line that separates delivery of superior service from just providing a service," Robinson says.
The support staff of Hickman & Robinson includes paralegals, law clerks, interns and lead paralegal Courtney Fernandez.

An "All-Star Team" for Business Owners Facing Legal Challenges
The principles believe in the team concept and operate day-to-day without a formalized hierarchy. Each primary attorney acts in a different capacity. They may act acts as lead counsel on some matters while also acting as support counsel and secondary attorneys for the attorneys on other matters.
The unique combination of skills and experiences among the three principles creates an "all-star team" of legal minds for business clients in need of experienced legal counsel. Robinson is described as the tactician of the group. Yaege is the firm's legal "encyclopedia" and Hickman is the "Pitbull."
Robert P. Robinson handles transactional and litigation in the practice areas of business/corporate law and real estate law. He was named to the 2015 and 2016 Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. He was named as a Semi-Finalist in Construction Law by the San Diego Daily Transcript, and he was named to the Best of the Bar by the San Diego Business Journal. Robinson also served as a legal analyst and legal contributor on radio and television, appearing on such shows as Politics & Profits, America Trends, and Real Talk San Diego."
I think it is vitally important for the firm and more so for our clients that someone sees the big picture. It's just as important that someone also sees the sometimes minute details that can swing a case one way or another. We're all great at collaborating on those matters and in coming up with the best possible legal solution for the unique challenge at hand," Robinson says.
Kyle E. Yaege has almost a decade of experience as an attorney in Southern California helping hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 500 banks, to local sole proprietors and individual persons. His practice areas are real estate acquisition/disposition/workout, real estate asset and property management, real estate syndication and development, construction law, Business law, professional license defense, creditor and transferee bankruptcy representation, debt enforcement, and employment law. Robinsons says, "Kyle is our legal encyclopedia. He just knows everything. For example, Hickman likes to ask him an obscure legal question such as what happened in an 1830 English Law case and he will know it. He knows the law better than any attorney I know."
Dennis P. Hickman is the firm's "Pitbull," particularly in the courtroom. His focus is entirely on litigation. After serving in the military, he has more than 30 years of experience practicing law, has an AV Preeminent Rating with Martindale-Hubbell, and was named to the Top Lawyers list by San Diego Magazine. "He has the biggest heart. He's a really good guy, but in the courtroom he's a pretty scary character. The three of us achieve a great balance. We complement each other well and whatever the issue may be we know whose office to walk into," Robinson says.
Some of the challenges the firm will soon face come within or are related directly to the legal industry in California. A new case affecting business practice (Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County) affects the relationship between employers and independent contractors, which has been a big issue in the state for some time. The definitions and the requirements related to independent contractor relationships have become more stringent. Many businesses and businesspersons are coming to Hickman and Robinson for consultation on determining if and how they should modify their business structure to change independent contractors to permanent employees. The issue is complex, matters are becoming more specialized, and the need to remain informed and up-to-date on changes in the law is paramount. "Our clients trust us. They know we're on top of things, which will keep them on top of things in their own business practices," Robinson says.

Successful Cases Mean Satisfied Clients
Yaege says, "Many business and real estate boutique firms will only practice transactional or will only practice litigation, while we do both. I think that gives us an advantage over some other small firms, because as we are handling a transaction, we truly understand how the contract provisions could be litigated. And vice versa." He compares the manner of operating as being similar to how some of the best criminal defense attorneys previously worked at the DA's office or how many of the best hitters in baseball were pitchers in high school. If an attorney understands the other side of things, his side of things becomes much clearer. Adapting to unexpected changes or challenges is more efficient and better targeted toward creating a successful outcome.
The philosophy and the careful approach has worked well for the firm and for their clients. In 1982 Hickman was lead counsel representing the newspaper in KSDO v. Feinstein, which is a case establishing the scope of a newspaper's privilege not to disclose confidential sources or unpublished materials. This leading case on the topic is still cited and relied upon, and is increasingly relevant in today's political climate. Robinson was counsel in a relatively recent 4th District Published Case concerning a right of first refusal and right of first offer as applied to a commercial lease agreement. The case has been cited numerous times in subsequent opinions. He was even happier with the result when his file clerk, who was at the time a UCSD pre-law student, called to say how excited she was that her class was studying the case in their contracts course.

Testimonials from satisfied clients continually arrive to prove the effectiveness of their approach.
Such testimonials are due in large part to the application of the firm's strategies for handling details and adapting to change. Sometimes clients come in with problems, often serious challenges, yet they don't have a clear idea of what a successful outcome should be. Once their attorney meets with them, learns to understand their position, and is able to accurately define a desired end result they can explain not only that definition, but also how the firm will proceed with achieving it. Equally important is the firm's client-centric approach, in which each member of the team contributes to a culture focused on building relationships, personally engaging with clients, and creating an environment for continuing growth and success.
"It's not always about 'winning,' it's about being successful in whatever it is that is going to help the client. We have to bore down on the details and be ready to adapt to each client's needs and to do what it takes to work towards the client's success," Robinson says.

"Robert Robinson conducts business with such a high level of professional and personal integrity rarely found these days and continues to be one of the most effective attorneys I have had the honor to represent me. The level of integrity and honesty in this man and as an attorney is remarkable. Combine these traits with his very meticulous understanding of the laws and you have an attorney of all attorneys in every aspect of his practice areas. If you are looking for a professional, knowledgeable law firm, that will yield results that are always pursuing your best interests even when you are unaware of it, then I highly recommend having Hickman Robinson represent your legal business and real estate legal needs."
– Kelly Turner, Raddison Blu

Hickman Robinson LLP
701 B Street Suite 1310
San Diego CA 92101

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