Success by Association

By: 
Jul. 22, 2016

Meeting Brian Cross in person is the first clue that Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross is no ordinary law firm.

Dressed in an aqua blue shirt and cowboy boots, the firm's managing partner chuckles that his colleagues will give him some good-natured ribbing for his lumberjack beard and uncommon attorney attire.

But the culture of the Naples-based law firm is decidedly entrepreneurial, so stuffy lawyers need not apply. “I'll carry garbage out from our kitchen,” says Cross.

Since its founding in 2010, Goede, Adamczyk has grown to 21 attorneys in four offices. Besides Naples, the firm also has offices in Fort Myers, Miami and Boca Raton.

Goede, Adamczyk is scouting more locations. “We've been looking in the Tampa and Orlando areas,” says Cross, who was the fifth attorney to join the firm.

The relaxed dress code is one of the perks of the fast-growing firm, which focuses more on results than sharp suits. “Our attorneys don't wear ties unless they're going to court,” says Cross.

As the managing partner of the firm, Cross says he's on the lookout for attorneys who have an entrepreneurial spirit and good business sense. And they have to get along in a culture that encourages teamwork because he concedes they'll likely spend more time at work than with their families and friends. “People want to work with people they like,” Cross reasons.

That's how John Goede built the firm. In 2010, when the real estate recession was in full swing, he helped struggling condo and homeowners associations by only charging them after collecting delinquent payments. That culture continues today: For example, the firm's attorneys answer calls and cell phone texts without charging for those brief exchanges.

Goede, Adamczyk burst onto the legal scene representing condo and homeowners associations, which were a sleepy area of the law. That changed during the foreclosure crisis when huge numbers of homeowners defaulted on their dues and associations faced giant liabilities. Today, the firm represents more than 1,000 associations (the firm doesn't disclose annual revenues or annual growth rates).

In addition to deferring legal expenses for clients until their collections caught up, Goede, Adamczyk designed special software its clients could use to track the legal work they were doing on their behalf. The effort didn't go unnoticed by property managers who are often hired by boards to manage the communities. “Property managers do well when their boards are happy,” Cross says.

That's part of the reason Goede, Adamczyk opened offices in condo-rich Miami and Boca Raton, where the firm has a growing list of clients. Statewide property managers also have been encouraging Goede, Adamczyk to open offices in Tampa and Orlando. “We'd like somebody here,” their clients told them.

In addition, the firm has diversified into other areas such as litigation, family law, estate planning, and commercial and residential real estate law. While the condo and homeowners association representation still accounts for half the firm's business, the dwindling foreclosure crisis means growth in that area won't be as significant in the future. “It's not an area of the law that's going to last forever,” Cross says.

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