In describing the law offices of O’Kelley & Sorohan, the first thing to note is they’re everywhere—all over the metro Atlanta area. And they’re growing fast. They have over 50 lawyers who work on residential real estate closings, (80%) commercial real estate, litigation matters, default and eviction work, family law and wills, trusts and estates. When asked if the law firm is still growing, Joe O’Kelley, one of the founding managing partners, tells us, “Oh definitely. Not because we’re trying to, but because we’re helping more and more people and we have to plan for that growth. And then it just happens that we grow.” He says, “We’re lucky to have a great team of lawyers, partners and associates who are customer oriented and responsive. We have a wonderful, helpful and vibrant staff that contributes to making us successful. All in all, we’ve achieved growth and success because of the people who work here and their dedication to our service model.”
O’Kelley & Sorohan has 20+ offices, which truly makes it seem like they’re everywhere. But their growth didn’t happen by chance. When asked about what makes O’Kelley & Sorohan different, the first thing you’ll hear most of their partners say is, “Because we’re genuinely nice and kind, and because we believe we are in the retail service business. Sure, it’s law, but its service model is like a retail entity’s—focusing on customer service.”
O’Kelley says, “Nearly all attorneys and staff first start in the Duluth corporate office for training, to be fully immersed in the way O’Kelley & Sorohan does business with its various customers.” The goal is to have a consistent experience between all of the offices throughout the law firm network and for everyone to be able to know a little about the many customers the firm works with. “Lawyers clear title and start with us at the Duluth office; it’s the first thing a new lawyer learns with the law firm,” Diedra Sorohan, another founding managing partner tells us. “If you don’t know title well, it’s hard to be a great closing attorney. We don’t just say sign here, we truly know what we’re doing on every file—and not just the documents, but the title as well. That’s important!”
A quick Q &A with O’Kelley & Sorohan
How did O’Kelley & Sorohan become the largest residential closing law firm?
Maybe a little happenstance and then some real planning. We were working with different, very successful law firms and learned the business the right way. And then we decided on different ideas to make the business a little better. We put together a three-year business plan and hit it the second month, yikes! We learned that people were splitting closings between us and when we got together, we got them all, and it just blew up. Fun for sure, but really hard to keep up. We tossed out the old plan and figured out how to build for explosive growth. That’s when we decided that the only way to be ready for a lot of new business was to overhire. Overhiring gives us the opportunity to give great service while allowing us the capacity for growth. O’Kelley & Sorohan has always held this belief, and it’s proven helpful in our growth. The several first attorneys we hired later became partners, and since then many others have too, with more on the way. We still, to this day, overhire—and it still works, empowering us to deliver great customer service ability and the capacity for growth.
How do you first get to 1,100 closings on average a month and then how do you keep them?
We have so many lawyers and staff who care to be excellent and treat customers the way they would want to be treated. We’re not perfect every time, for sure. But we’re good at fixing things, making things right, doing what’s right, even if we lose money in the deal. That’s what we’d want from service providers who service us personally, so that’s what we strive to provide for customers who use and trust O’Kelley & Sorohan. We want them to know that we’ll do it right, even if it’s fixing something we missed earlier, we’ll get it right for everyone.
How do you not seem like a big faceless law firm?
We strive to be customer focused and we have a great group of lawyers throughout the law firm who know their customers and treat them well. In the picture with this article you’ll see our senior partners, with only Kern Schwartz missing from the shot. Each partner is so much an intrinsic part of our firm and culture, that we would not be successful without every one of them working with us, moving forward together and being on the same page. We all believe in what we do and how we are as individuals and as a unit. We’re also all entrepreneurs in a way. Each of our offices are like boutique shops for the local market around the office. We’re always making sure that the boutique feel is there, but with the backing of a big network of attorneys and staff who can step in to help when someone is out, or when more work comes along that overwhelms a separate office. Everyone works hard to provide a great customer experience, and we’re always helping everyone out in doing that, by providing support, people, marketing or anything else that’s needed. We could not be our size without a great group of partners, associates and great staff. It’s all teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Do you have growth areas in real estate closings?
Yes, we do. Our mainstay is residential purchase and sale for the retail market with traditional lenders, agents, buyers, and sellers attending closing. But we’ve created new divisions, such as our Builder Services Group, Commercial Real Estate Title and Transactions and an Investor Transactions practice. These divisions allow each of the groups to focus on what’s important to the customers of the law firm in that particular area of our closing practice. Customers really appreciate this segmentation—it works!
Promptness and Great Customer Service
The one aspect of their business that hasn’t wavered for the firm is their steadfast belief in customer care. So obvious is this objective that even one of the firm’s newest members, Lauren Watson, who has been with the company for just under a month as its business development manager can’t help but take notice. “I’ve worked for other law firms before, but the way we handle customers here at O’Kelley and Sorohan is different from others I’ve seen,” she says. “They genuinely care about people’s time, and although they might be viewed as a big firm, they believe in personal touch and quality care, which is what gives them that small-boutique feel. Here, everyone believes in promptness and great customer service. You don’t ever have to worry about needlessly waiting before you’re seen here,” says Watson.
O’Kelley and Sorohan are a people-focused law firm, meaning they’re all about making sure their customers are happy and taken care of. As a firm that values everyone’s time, they’re glad their customers choose them for closings, so they always try to be efficient and provide a great experience.
Watson says, “Being new here also gave me insight on how O’Kelley & Sorohan is involved in community gatherings, local races, charitable events and much more.” These places, among others, are just a few you might spot the O’Kelley and Sorohan name and team as it contributes to the community at large. “Giving to the communities we serve and helping them thrive is not only our way of saying thanks to our supporters, but also doing what’s ultimately right for society as a whole,” says Sorohan. “When we were starting out, the community helped us. Now, it’s our turn.”
Law firms can seem to be impersonal at times, but O’Kelley and Sorohan is different. Some of the training that goes on at their Duluth office can be traced to ‘how to be’ thoughts and attitudes.” O’Kelley says, “We teach and remind everyone to Be Nice, Be Forward Thinking and Be Thoughtful and Knowledgeable. Learn to Be a Coach, and Be Thorough. Be Willing and Ready and Honest, and always Be Humble and Be Thankful.”
Currently the law firm handles many different types of matters including residential closing matters, commercial transactions, builder services, litigation, eviction, estate planning, family law, and corporate relocation services. You can contact them at (770) 497-1880 or visit their website at www.okelleyandsorohan.com.