Forrest John Crawford, Hometown Legal Services
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Forrest John Crawford, attorney and founder, Hometown Legal Services.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
One of the most challenging aspects of my job as a solo practitioner and a sole proprietor is that I am my business. If I am unable to work, business slows or shuts down. If there is a family emergency, illness, or other complication, I have to rearrange my entire schedule. There is no backup when you are on your own. For example, I am just now recovering from a chain of illnesses, which have left me out of commission for over two weeks. Luckily, my clients have understood, but it will take some time to dig myself out of the backlog of work.
One of the most rewarding aspects is that I can set my own schedule. If I want to take my dogs for a walk, I do it. If I want to take some time to run some household errands, I do it. If I want to take a long weekend and spend some time with my wife, I do it. I am only accountable to myself and my clients, and it allows me the freedom to take the time I need to live a balanced lifestyle.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
One of the most influential figures in my decision to go solo right out of law school was another attorney, Sam Wayne. I have had some excellent mentors throughout the years, but Sam provided that little extra push I needed to make the decision to go solo. He was honest and straightforward about the risks and rewards of practicing on my own, and has acted as a mentor, resource, and friend since graduation. He has inspired me to follow in his footsteps, and I have had the opportunity to provide advice to several new attorneys or students who are considering going solo.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Making it into year two with a profit and a sustainable business model. As a mobile attorney, I am doing something a little different than the traditional law firm setup. When you go solo and try new things, there is a risk that your business will fail. Many attorneys attempt to go solo and do not make it through their first year. I love that I am able to do something I am passionate about, on my own terms, and I hope things continue to go well for the future.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Take school a little more seriously, take life a little less seriously, and invest in bitcoin.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Dane County has a thriving ecosystem for small businesses. Through the UW System, there are so many resources available for students and the community to take their ideas and make them into a reality. There are also a number of co-working spaces, mentoring groups, free legal and business advice, and so much more. Dane County is really a place where new ideas can flourish. About half of my practice is working with small businesses, including startups, so this area is a good fit for me.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I am pretty tech literate. Whether it is building a computer, setting up a smart-home system, or researching the newest and best electronic devices out there, I am generally able to quickly figure out any new devices or technology I encounter. I am also decent at trip planning, especially on a budget. Among several other domestic and international trips, I planned my honeymoon in its entirety, which involved a 63-day trip backpacking around Europe. I am currently planning a trip to England, Scotland, and Iceland with my dad and brother, which I already know is going to be fantastic.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Collecting board games. While I was a law student, I had a few good friends who got me hooked on “Eurogames” such as 7 Wonders: Catan, and other cooperative or strategy-based tabletop games. I went a little overboard with my collection and now have about 50 different games, even though I have only played about 10 of them. I also spend more time than I care to admit watching cheesy DC and Marvel superhero TV shows. If a show has superpowers in it, I will watch at least one season of it, no matter how bad the writing.
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