Kimberly M. Hanlon
Attorney at Law
Her own words:
I am not your typical lawyer. First of all, I don’t have the mindset of the typical lawyer, and I certainly haven’t had the usual career path. I came to my legal career after being a fashion designer in New York and moving away for family reasons. It’s hard to be a fashion designer anywhere else, it really is.
After I became a lawyer, I started my practice and started practicing just like every other lawyer I know practices. As I was going along, I kept noticing that most law practices violate the laws of good business (and clients hate that but lawyers continue that way nonetheless). Laws of good business like providing a good experience for the client (more than just a good result), like building relationships with clients (and not just a merry-go-round of new prospects), and providing a level of care that is personalized and focused on what is important to the client (and not calling all the shots like we know what is best for you). It is amazing that law practices succeed given the usual practice model, and it is no wonder that people hate lawyers.
I don’t want to be the lawyer that people hate. I want to be the lawyer that people love.
As my practice grew, I stepped further and further away from the typical law model. I stopped doing divorce work. I stopped doing whatever-came-in-the-door work. I started focusing on what I could do that made a positive difference for people, that had me enjoy my practice and my clients, and that contributed to society. I stopped billing by the hour. I started running my law practice based on relationship principles. It has been a progression, and I’m constantly working to improve upon it, but I love how my law practice is now. I love my clients. I love my work. It’s fun being a lawyer – the way I’m doing it.
My favorite part of what I do is working with people. I think it is a profound privilege to get to do what I do. I see things differently than most lawyers, and once people realize that about me, they really appreciate that difference.
Kimberly on Business:
When I was little, I used to go around the neighborhood and gather up pine cones in the fall, and then I would go door to door and sell pine cones to all the neighbors. At the time, I didn’t really notice that I was selling the same pine cones to the neighbors that had come out of their own yards, but I digress. I have always been quite enterprising and I’ve always loved business.
I watched my dad build and grow a successful company. I watched my mom have a successful foray into the antiques business for many years, until 9/11 took the wind out of the retail sector. Both my parents modeled entrepreneurship for me, and taught me by both word and example that you can do anything you put your mind to.
While I was a fashion designer in New York, I started my first business. It was an upscale hand crafted teddy bear company called Bearbalooba. I never fully got it off the ground to do it full time, but it did have me travel for shows and I did get some good press for my creations. I also learned that it takes a lot of work to keep a business going. A lot. It was a good first experience in the entrepreneur world.
My second business came the year before I started law school in Oklahoma. I took my design experience and upholstery/drapery know-how and created a design studio workroom for interior design. I did some design work for my own clients, and I also created custom products for other designers – all high end. It was a good second experience in the entrepreneur world. I would likely still be at it if I hadn’t really, really wanted to go to law school.
Shortly after becoming an attorney, the global financial meltdown hit the firm where I was employed and as the last one in the door, I was the first one out the door. That was the last Friday in January 2009. I started my own firm the next Monday, and have never looked back. While I remain appreciative to Jim Feamster and Adam Carroll for giving me a start, I am so grateful for my autonomy and the ability to build my practice how I want it to be. Most attorneys with their own firms do not think of themselves as entrepreneurs and they do not approach building a law practice from a business standpoint. I am fortunate that my background prevented me from having that particular disability.
When I moved from Oklahoma to Minnesota, I wanted to have an office in a suite of attorneys just like I had in Tulsa but there was no such place in Minneapolis. So I built it. My mom and I partnered to open MoreLaw Minneapolis, and that experience has been both the most challenging and the most rewarding for the both of us. We have grown exponentially, gotten amazing press, met extraordinary people, and have also found ourselves way outside of our comfort zones. At one point, I knew that for us to continue to grow there was something I needed to know that I didn’t know about business, so I went looking for it.
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives. I met Meir Ezra and have had the great good fortune to become his student. I am now honored to call him a friend. Through his mentorship I learned about how to really run and grow a business. He made me into a walking business MRI machine. I am so humbled when I think about the gift he has given me.
There are infinite wrong ways to operate a business and one correct way. Meir taught me the correct way – the way he has used to grow businesses to $100+ million and the way he uses to currently run his two-dozen or so companies. I now operate using those principles, and the results have been dramatic.
Now that I have this extraordinary education, I use it to counsel my business owner clients and my attorney friends. I want nothing more than for the people in my sphere to prosper and flourish. When businesses grow, the abundance that gets created allows for all sorts of good things to spring forth. Charitable works. Innovation. Art and culture. I love that I get to be a ripple in that pond.
More about Kimberly:
Kimberly graduated with honors from the University of Tulsa College of Law in May 2008, where she also received a certificate in Native American Law and a certificate in International and Comparative Law. She served as an editor on the Tulsa Journal of Comparative and International Law and has had a scholarly legal article published in that journal. She is licensed in Oklahoma, Minnesota, and the US District Court for the District of Minnesota.
Kimberly has served on the Board of Directors for Empowering Adults Protecting Children, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate people how to recognize behaviors in adults that are a risk to children and intervene in non-threatening ways. She also served on the Advisory Board for Family Innocence, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide an alternative to family court for families in conflict. She currently serves as a volunteer Ambassador for Guild, Inc., a non-profit organization that serves mentally ill adults in the community. She also serves on the Development Committee for East Side Neighborhood Services, a non-profit human services organization that provides a wide array of services to low income individuals and families. Kimberly has been an integral part of developing the organization’s legacy program and has helped implement the Elder Legal Clinic that provides pro-bono legal advice and estate planning to seniors in the community.
Kimberly also co-owns MoreLaw Minneapolis, an executive suite exclusively for attorneys. Kimberly’s office is located within that suite and she enjoys growing that business and helping other attorneys to succeed. In May 2013, Kimberly was awarded a Women in Business Award by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal for her work with MoreLaw Minneapolis and for her commitment to the Twin Cities community.
Before going to law school, Kimberly earned her Bachelors degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology (State University of New York) in New York City in Apparel Production Management in 1998 and an Associates degree from that same school in Fashion Design in 1995. She worked as a fashion designer in the apparel industry in New York until she moved back to Oklahoma for family reasons.
In her free time, Kimberly enjoys creating artwork and exploring Minneapolis’ vibrant arts community. Kimberly has the privilege to befriend and know artist Jason Najarak and paint with him, just as he knew Pablo Picasso and painted with him. She loves traveling and exploring new places, and enjoys meeting people and experiencing different cultures. She is also a lifetime learner, and loves to read and study topics that enrich her life and those around her. Kimberly is amazingly lucky and blessed to share her life with her wonderful husband, Richard Sopelle, who brings a lot of laughter and joy into her life.