Most people wonder why I dress the way I do and behave the way I do. It’s because if you look at my background, right, I need a break from my background. I’ll give you a little example. I went to college. I started out as a chemistry major and found that just abominably boring. I switched to drama, and I didn’t like standing around too much. So, I finally switched again to English. I got a degree in English. Then I did some graduate work in Medieval Studies, if you’ll believe that. I actually studied German, Latin, Greek, Old English, Middle English, that kind of thing, real exciting stuff.
I got a fellowship to go teach American literature at a German university in Mainz, Germany in 1982. I did that for a year, and because I was 22, 23 and I was single, and I was in Europe, and I had a job, and it was cool, I decided I wanted to stay. That was a good move because I got to get a job with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which most people think of as the BX or the PX.
My first job after I went through the training center, which was an adventure in itself, was to run something like a 7-Eleven. I did that for six months. I had a lot of fun doing that. I increased sales 27 percent in six months. They gave me a new job in Kaiserslautern, Germany where I ran one of the larger electronics stores, and I increased in one year their million dollars a month up to a million one hundred thousand dollars a month. So, they put me in charge as the assistant manager of the largest electronics store in Germany, and that was in Frankfurt. I had a lot of fun doing that.
One of my side jobs was that I was a troubleshooter for the European director. I would actually go in and audit other stores, and I would tell the European director what was going on there that was not helpful or that needed to be improved. I had a lot of fun doing that because I got to go all over Europe, see all kinds of stores, see all kinds of operations, and do all kinds of analysis.
One of the benefits of working for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service was that they paid for me to get a Master’s degree in business from Boston University while I was working for them, which was really cool. That’s one of the reasons why I got out of the auditing and troubleshooting business. I was having a great time. I was about 26 years old, 27 years old. Unfortunately, the European director shot his mouth off to the worldwide director about me and what I do, and immediately I was transferred to Dallas, Texas to do what I do in Europe.
In Dallas I became what they called a retail faculty core member. My job, ostensibly, was to go out and teach classes about retail operations, but essentially it was to go out and improve the operations by teaching managers how to do a better job managing their operations. I had a lot of fun doing that.
But I wanted to complete my education. So, I applied to law schools, and lo and behold I was accepted at University of Texas School of Law. Lo and behold, because I had government orders from Europe, I made the residency requirement by one day. I love to rub this in all the time. My first year tuition was $2600. Yeah. I love to tell USC grads that. $2600; how does that feel? It went up dramatically. In my third year I paid $3600, so you can see the tuition hikes were really starting to kill me after a while. Of course, living in Austin, Texas was just awful, right. There was just the food, and the music, and Sixth Street, and about 200,000 undergradautes and graduate students there, a fabulous place, fabulous place.
Unfortunately, there were no jobs in Texas at the time. So, I got a job working for a maritime firm in Long Beach, California after I passed the Bar. They were very kind. They trained me all kinds of stuff on boats because I really didn’t know the difference between a bow and a stern when I worked for these people. Basically, I was born in Illinois in the corn fields a long way from any water, so I really didn’t know anything about these things, but I learned a lot.
One of the things that really came into some use was the fact that I had a business background. It was just a normal thing for me to gravitate towards business clients, because I understood them and they seemed to get me. That’s how, essentially, I developed my practice. I started liking business people. I would hang around business people, and they would hire me to take care of problems for them.
One of the things that I found out, especially as I was building my practice, is that business people are great at building businesses, but they are not so good at protecting themselves and taking care of these little details that keep you out of trouble. I found out that, initially, it’s the very simple stuff. They don’t incorporate or put themselves into an LLC; which is just disastrous in California. I don’t know why anybody is a sole proprietor. It’s just insane.
And, they don’t believe in contracts. I always talk to people and I’d say,
“Do you have a contract for that?”
They’d say, “Yeah, I shook the guy’s hand and everything.”
They don’t do contracts.
One of the things that I developed out of all that was essentially there are forms that you can use to help all kinds of businesses protect themselves with very inexpensive contracts. I’m one of the few people that actually do contracts of almost all kinds on a flat fee basis. That’s different, I think, from just about any other attorney you’ll meet.
Another thing I found out is that whenever they had employees – How many people have employees? – they were absolutely clueless about the dangers they faced dealing with employees. Now, employees have to be protected. That’s just part of our social contract. I don’t care what your political views are that’s just the way it is. Right? You’ve got to take care of employees. They’re very important people. They help your operation. They help your business. The laws are such that you have to take care of them. You have to do right by them.
Unfortunately, most small business owners had no clue, when I met them, how to actually go about doing that and do it right. So I developed this alpha to omega type system which started with the application, it goes all the way through to the termination of the employee, and that covers just about everything. I do it, again, for a flat fee because it’s worth it to me to develop the relationship. And I think it’s worth it to the employer to finally get a system in place that’s not going to cause them problems.
Because in the state of California the employment system is so complex and there are so many liabilities that are personal. If you’re not incorporated you can be personally liable on a labor and wage claim if you have an employee. So that’s why you don’t want to be a sole proprietor in the state of California and have employees. You could be personally liable. That means they can take your house, okay? It’s very important.
These types of things that I put in place were basically designed for business people, and I think business people get them. Here’s the really good part. I have two parts of my practice. I have the transactional part which I basically use to try to help people avoid litigation, and then I have the litigation side which makes me all of my money. Now, why does it make me all of my money? Because it’s wasteful. It is nonsensical. It is not a good thing. If you’re in business and you’re doing a lot of litigation, you’re probably not going to be in business long.
So, I always tell people take the ounce of prevention. You don’t want the cure. Basically come in, have a cup of coffee with me. I sit around and I talk about soccer. Tell you all of my crazy stories about what race I ran in or when I went running with Shelly or some other people at the back bay. But, you see, that’s just to show you that I’m a human being. I have all this other stuff going on behind this facade. It’s a really very structured, very systematized type of approach to law and business. It’s here to help you. So, if you’d be interested in that I’d be happy to host you any time. Thanks so much.
The Law Offices of Mark D. Holmes, APC specialize in the following areas of business law:
- Business Litigation
- Contract Law
- Corporate Law
- Real Estate Law
- Commercial and Maritime Law
- Business Transactions: contracts, buy-sell agreements, asset sales, incorporations, LLCs, employee handbooks
I offer free consultations; communicate often and in detail; accessible by email and cell phone; twenty years experience in business transactions and litigation; and I have actual business experience! 949-645-0450 949-645-0451 714-345-9993 4 San Joaquin Plaza Newport Beach, CA 92660 www.mdholmeslaw.com firstname.lastname@example.org