Law firm enters expansion mode
A law firm is focusing on expansion — both locally and nationally.
Wyoming-based Avanti Law Group made a strategic move into Holland earlier this year with the acquisition of sole practitioner Nohemi Jimenez’s office, located at 720 E. 8th St. in Holland Heights.
As part of the acquisition, Jimenez joined Avanti and will serve as the firm’s full-time practitioner in Holland.
She is joined at the location by a full-time paralegal and a part-time legal assistant.
Additionally, Avanti co-founder Robert Alvarez and co-founder and managing member Raquel Salas, who are based out of the firm’s Wyoming office, will regularly spend time in the Holland office.
Alvarez said the move to Holland had a lot to do with the firm’s client base in southwest Michigan.
“We actually have quite a client base from down south,” Alvarez said. “Our clients travel quite a long ways, so we needed to have an office they could get to easier and quicker than our Wyoming office.”
In addition to being able to better serve existing clients, the large Hispanic population in Holland offers the firm a chance to grow as well.
“There is a large potential for our target population and clientele in the lakeshore area,” Alvarez said. “Our firm is one of the largest Spanish-speaking firms in West Michigan. We have a niche we can fill that other firms can’t and resources other firms can’t provide.”
Avanti opened an office in Holland previously, in 2012, but it closed that same year.
“We couldn’t sustain it, because we needed to have someone there full time,” Alvarez explained.
He is confident the new office has the support it needs to thrive.
The additional office will also take some of the pressure off of the firm’s other members.
“We also see the benefit in having someone in Ottawa County who can attend hearings and attend to client matters in that area and south and an extra attorney to help fill in,” Alvarez said.
He noted the six-attorney firm has been “swamped” with client work, often times being booked in multiple courts at the same time.
Alvarez said one of the misconceptions about Avanti is that it's only focused on immigration, criminal defense and family law, but he said the firm handles several other types of work as well, including national class action lawsuits.
“We are a nationwide firm,” he said. “We actually practice in various federal courts across the country, and we represent clients internationally as well.”
In fact, the firm is eyeing Florida and Nevada for its next expansions.
“We have been having discussions more seriously recently about opening an office in Orlando and eventually one in Las Vegas,” Alvarez said. “We see the potential for growth out in those areas, primarily the potential for representing employees in employment matters and most specifically, in wage and hour matters.”
Avanti handles a lot of wage and labor-related cases, which Alvarez said are on the rise and likely to increase in coming years if President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration takes effect.
“We definitely are going to see a surge in our immigration practice as more individuals that qualify under this program will come forward and want to reap the benefits . . . . And we will definitely see a rise in employment litigation violations,” Alvarez said.
He noted there is a three-year statute of limitations on many of these types of violations. However, those within the legal timeframe stand to receive their lost wages as well as additional financial compensation.
“The benefit of this law includes not only having an employer pay employees the unpaid wages they should have been paid, but also an equal amount in liquidated damages as well as attorney fees and costs,” he explained.
Avanti Law Group is celebrating its five-year anniversary this month.
“We have a lot of plans for the future, not only our practices but for Avanti itself,” Alvarez said.