2007 passed quietly Dec 31st at ALO, a bit of a lull after one of the busiest years ever, both in and out of the office. Let’s start with the law business. In our second full year since two trusted lawyers left with out notice, taking many of ALO’s long time clients with them, the office recorded one of its best years ever. That comes despite the fact those who left were not replaced. Instead, ALO developed a new business plan, utilizing more lawyers who are contractors instead of employees, in such places as Anchorage, Seattle and Minneapolis as needed. Instead of taking most business that comes in the door, ALO is now turning away cases that were often accepted before to keep everyone busy. And the contract employees that we are using do work of exceptional quality, often in areas where our current lawyers lack skill or experience. It is a fact that most lawyers have areas of strength and weakness, and knowing when to get help is essential, especially in a place like Bethel with so many challenging legal cases. It can be hard to justify employing expensive contract lawyers when a large staff is already drawing high salaries but that is no longer a problem. Better lawyers working on better cases seems to be a successful formula. It can be difficult to attract high quality professional people to live in rural Alaska, but technology has made it possible to share file information with distant lawyers almost instantly. ALO converses daily with numerous lawyers who provide expertise on cases from around the country.
It is also apparent that ALO is getting a different mixture of cases, with some civil defense work to go along with personal injury and criminal defense work. Those civil defendants who have hired ALO seem to be the clients with winnable cases, which makes those cases far more appealing. In short, ALO is doing more enjoyable work, and avoiding some of the painful cases that haunted the office in the past.
Our temporary paralegal Rachel Davis moved back to Anchorage in mid-December, extending her very productive stay for one month past her original departure time. She was gone before we celebrated our office Christmas party catered by the Marx Brothers restaurant in Anchorage. After pestering for an invite for many years, office mechanical wizard Grant Fairbanks finally was included, on the condition that he bring the food out from Anchorage. He came through, and arrived on schedule for the first time in ages. A new office helper, this time a law grad from Texas, arrives in January.
No civil cases were settled in December, although several offers were received and rejected. Matt did resolve one felony assault with an outright dismissal.
Out of the office, 2007 was a humdinger. Andy’s racing in the Kuskokwim 300 and the Iditarod got the year off to a very intense start, and the promised video of his finish is bound to make it on to this site before long. That was followed by Dolly and David’s wedding, another wedding in Aniak, the start of our cabin project, yet another wedding in Ireland, a busy August getting the cabin ready for winter, and of course the plane crash. There were lots of smaller events, but that list should give some idea of how things keep moving around here. Just for added entertainment, the family urged Myron to sign up for the Kuskokwim 300. Long cold training runs were common in December. Keep an eye on k300.org for race results starting Jan 18th. As of now there are only two entrants in the “elder” division, Myron and Gerry Riley, a former Iditarod champion. Elder is defined here as “old enough to know better”
Finally, a word about our website. Of course this is a new innovation for ALO, designed by former Bethel guy Rich Gannon who now lives in Montana. His web services Front Range Web are top notch, especially when it comes to being prompt. Is there anything worse than a website than never gets updated? This website has been fun, because its informal. At ALO no one takes themselves too seriously. We urge clients who want a somber, always serious lawyer to look elsewhere. We have fun doing our cases, and get serious when needed. This website should portray that. It seems to be working. I have one client’s quote to prove that point. Some legal websites have high sounding quotes from clients, who of course are unnamed. They are likely unnamed because the quotes are made up. Not so here. Molly Sakar of Crooked Creek wrote an email when she hired this office to do a case involving a family member who was injured in an airplane accident. She stated “visited your website as I was checking out lawyers...decided to go with someone local who has history with the local yokels.”
This page would be very long if it included a list of the “local yokels” who have a history with ALO.