Many businesses would love to operate out of the Class-A office building on the corner of Ocean and Wilshire Boulevard. Santa Monica’s signature building can be seen by just about anyone who visits the downtown, Santa Monica Pier, or Third Street Promenade. With close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the 21-story tower across the street from Palisades Park is the envy of many office spaces. One firm located in the building’s ninth floor is certainly operating a thriving business there: the law practice of Oyler and Woldman. The firm’s Connolly Oyler spent a few minutes chatting with The Mirror about his practice and doing business in Santa Monica.
Q: How long have you been doing business in Santa Monica? What was the draw to doing business here?
A: I have been practicing law for more than 50 years. Although my offices were elsewhere, I often appeared in the Santa Monica Court and always fantasized about practicing law here. This came true in 1990 when, after residing in the Santa Monica Canyon, in a condominium on Pacific Coast Highway for several years, my wife persuaded me to relocate my office from Encino to Santa Monica to be near my residence. My draw was convenience to my home at the end of the day and a secret of a happy occupation. The move itself took place in 1990.
Q: What kind of lifestyle does your firm have? How is being in the middle of Santa Monica’s defining beachfront separate the firm from other law offices? In what ways is Oyler and Woldman no different from other law offices or similar businesses?
A: Originally, I was in Santa Monica Place and in the mid-90’s moved the office to the Searise Building at Third and Wilshire and then in April of 2008, I moved to a wonderful location at 100 Wilshire Boulevard. The firm’s lifestyle is to work hard, do right by the clients, and be happy doing what you are doing. Being in a beach front area not only puts us in a relaxed mood, but of greater importance, the clients feel relaxed and unintimated as is the case with some law firms. I cannot say that our firm is no different from other firms inasmuch as each law business has its own style and personality.
Q: What has Oyler and Woldman done to give back to Santa Monica?
A: To give back to the community, I have been active in the Santa Monica Bar Association, having served as its President for a year, as well as its Family Law Chairman; I have served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce and been active in the Rotary Club of Santa Monica where I am an incoming Vice President commencing in July which involves numerous community activities including Reading to the Kids, etc., etc.
Q: How many employees? How does the firm advertise?
A: With respect to my practice, I have a partner, three associates, an office manager, secretary, and clerk. We do not advertise nor solicit clients other than our Web page and community and civic activities.
Q: Can you shed any light on the firm’s specialty? What are the misconceptions the public has of divorce attorneys that are not true? Just the same, what is the typical day for a divorce attorney?
A: Our firm specialty is family law which is, of course, divorce, but we do pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, co-habitation agreements, grandparent rights, and, within the scope of family law, issues of tax, custody, timeshare child support, spousal support and we also have a practice in what we describe as “Marvin Agreements” where couples have lived together outside of marriage without an agreement. I also have a sub-specialty in acting as an expert witness in family law legal malpractice cases.
Certain misconceptions regarding divorce attorneys which are untrue is that the divorce is always expensive. The parties control the legal costs by how much they are willing to fight over. By reaching amicable resolutions through mediation and counseling, the costs can be and are substantially reduced.
Q: Finally, in general, what advice do you have for a new attorney or small law firm looking to do business here in Santa Monica? How can someone look to Oyler & Woldman as a model of how to successfully build a business here?
A: The biggest complaint clients have in general with respect to lawyers and family law attorneys, is that their calls are not returned. However, all too many family law clients will call their attorney two or three times a day, every day and that seriously escalates the fees and the costs. I would strongly advise a new attorney or a small firm looking to do business in Santa Monica, to become involved in the community. Get active in the Chamber of Commerce, join a service club, but most of all do a good job for a client or the customer and they will send repeat business.