It was early March 2010. My wife was pregnant with our second child, a son, and due to deliver at any moment. It was definitely an odd time to start a new law firm.
But with a deep belief in what we wanted to do and, most importantly, how we wanted to do it, we set sail and launched the Lusk & Albertson law firm in mid-March 2010. Anchored by two of the titans of the school law world – Bill Albertson and Bob Lusk – we set up shop in Bloomfield Hills and ventured into what felt like a brave new world.
I’ve commented several times since our inception that something interesting happens when you start a company from scratch. After getting the computers set up, ensuring there’s a dial-tone on the phone line, and making sure the copier works, you have a moment when you realize that the “business” didn’t exist until days prior. That’s kind of an odd feeling. Most of us work for companies that were already well established when we arrived. They had their own culture, their way of doing things. But when you start from square one, you are presented with a host of opportunities to craft a culture, a methodology, and a brand from inception.
Again, we knew how we wanted to do things. But creating a culture and messaging around those things, that was a little trickier. It took us several weeks, but we ultimately coalesced around a simple but profound mission statement – Providing Legal Solutions, So Teachers Can Teach and Students Can Learn. It’s a short mantra, but it’s loaded with meaning. And we meant every single word of it.
We’ve never fancied ourselves as the “big, bad lawyers with all the answers.” We have answers. And we can be tough if and when we need to be. But we also see the value in being practical. Pragmatic. Not bringing a sledgehammer to kill a fly. Telling our clients when they’ve messed up. Being honest with them about difficult situations. Not just telling clients what they want to hear. And, very importantly, being thought-leaders, unafraid to take positions on new issues and not waiting around to see what everyone else has to say on the matter first. Shockingly, we think that makes us very, very different from most firms out there.
And we care deeply about public education and the people that do that important work. It has been well-chronicled that most of us in the firm have a concrete connection to education, through a parent or a spouse or even having been a teacher in a past life. We see the unquestionable value in this work, in removing obstacles and speed bumps for our clients so they can focus on the classroom and their most-treasured resource – the students. And that’s how we’ve operated for a decade now.
It’s been an amazing ride for the past 10 years. Our move to Detroit in 2015. The addition of our Grand Rapids office in 2017. We’ve won big cases, navigated our clients through tough situations, and garnered some well-deserved attention from the media and association groups. There have been moments of adversity as well – the occasional rogue judicial opinion, for example – but the good moments have overwhelmingly and convincingly dwarfed the bad.
We’ve stayed true to who we are as people, valuing relationships with each other as colleagues and with our clients as friends. And we’ve supported students, not just with rhetoric, but real dollars, gifting over $45,000 to students from client districts since 2011 through our LAunch Scholarship.
We are remarkably proud of what we’ve built over the past decade, a 10-year stretch where we believe that we have led the way in our industry as thought leaders, unafraid to take on challenges and employ outside-the-box thinking which is uncommon amongst our competitors. Perhaps no example is more illustrative than the creation of our School Policy Service (SPS), an idea for which we were openly chastised as “crazy” for exploring. With our SPS on incredibly firm footing now and dozens of districts participating, it is mildly gratifying to watch every provider in our sector scrambling to craft a similar offering. Crazy, indeed!
Most importantly, the past ten years as a team have been unbelievable, as we have grown to be a family. We’ve been a part of new arrivals, new houses, retirements, graduations, weddings, and more. We truly are a family. And I can’t imagine what the next decade might hold for us. Whatever it is, we will continue to support our clients in their vital mission of education with the same passion, the same enthusiasm, and the same commitment as we have for the past ten years. Every morning the sun rises, LA will continue to #LeadTheWay.