The Story Exchange, Stephanie Friese, Pursley Friese TorgrimsonYour Name: Stephanie Friese Aron

Business Name: Pursley Friese Torgrimson, a law firm for businesses and property owners

Type of Business: Law Firm

Business Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Twitter   @PFTLegal

Reason for starting
I started my own law firm right out of law school. I intentionally set out to practice the law outside of the confines of a typical law firm structure. My goal then and now is to pursue professional independence and freedom of choice as an independent business owner – and support other women interested in doing the same.

How do you define success?
Who you are or your status (financial or otherwise) does not drive leadership or success. Leadership and success are about what you do and who you help. I was recently reminded of this after co-chairing the leadership education effort for the young members of CREW. After completing this year’s educational session, we celebrated during a group dinner. The young women we mentored made a moment to express their gratitude for the educational experience. In doing so, one of the attendees said to me, “Stephanie, you’re an inspiration.” I hold close those words and that moment, both of which fuel me to do even more. Our individual success is directly tied to who we choose to surround ourselves with. When you surround yourself with people who are doing good or even great things, you too will do great things. The contagious nature of ‘doing good’ is simply undeniable.

Biggest Success
My biggest success has been the opportunity to start two law firms so far in the course of my career. I managed my first firm, Friese Legal, for 13 years as one of the first woman-owned, woman-managed law firms certified by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council in the United States. My second firm, Pursley Friese Torgrimson, was founded this January 2013. Our firm represents eight decades of collective commercial real estate and business legal experience lead by me, Charles N. Pursley Jr. and Christian F. Torgrimson. Today, we are a WBENC-certified woman-owned and woman-managed law firm that advocates on behalf of businesses and property owners, corporate real estate executives, real property investors, real estate developers, landlords, tenants, franchisors and franchisees, property managers and real estate brokers and financial lending institutions.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The biggest challenge I faced in starting my own firm was building a strong and loyal staff. Law school did not prepare me for finding and retaining the type of talent best suited for each essential role in a growing law firm. That skill took time to hone. Today, we hire slow. We invest a lot of time into networking, interviewing and screening. Once a person joins my firm, we spend time planning with and orienting that person to all aspects of the firm. We align and group people into collaborative teams to foster talent and achieve an exceptional client service delivery model. We are fiercely dedicated to client service. Consequently, I do believe that our staff (and clients) recognize this facet of our firm, and remain with us for the long term.

Who is your most important role model?
First and foremost my parents are my role models. I grew up with a passionate lawyer as a dad. As early as 15, I was often in his law firm observing, listening and learning. He is incredibly dedicated to the practice of law and to providing quality, personal client service. He inspired me to be the attorney I am today. After I started my own law firm, he joined me, and we have worked alongside each other to this day. I also grew up with a smart businesswoman mom who loves her work. Today, she’s the number one sales woman for an international medical diagnostics company; and she is nowhere near slowing down. Mom is the reason why I am an independent business owner. I continue to learn so much from her about collaborating with others, about asking for and pursuing what you want, and about gaining my confidence in business. My professional mentors are equally inspiring. CREW leaders and fellow members have invested time and energy to support my experience, interests and goals. As a result, I am as passionate in supporting other women to earn the same opportunities.