All posts by Thomas Law Office

What kinds of clients have you represented?

Typically, my clients are middle class and upper middle class residents of Arizona who are looking for affordable and effective representation, although I have represented people from many walks of life. On occasion I’ve represented free of charge people who have little or no money. On the other hand, I’ve represented multimillionaires; other professionals such as medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, college professors, and mental health care providers; and clients from a wide variety of businesses. I’ve represented women, men, children, low-wage earners, presidents of corporations, churches, small business owners, etc. I gave them all my best effort and in most cases achieved excellent results. I’ve earned the trust of doctors, judges, fellow attorneys, and mental health professionals who have referred clients to me. I am also former Judge Pro Tempore of the Maricopa County Superior Court. This pro-bono position entails covering hearings and trials for full-time judges and commissioners in the family law department when they are sick, on vacation, or attending to personal matters. It also entails acting as a mediator in divorce and custody cases so that parties can try to achieve a settlement that they feel comfortable with.

Do you keep up with changes in the law?

Of course; every lawyer has a duty to keep abreast of changes in his practice area. Attorneys in Arizona are required to undertake 15 hours of continuing education courses each year. This is the bare minimum. I often take more than 15 hours when I find courses that interest me. In addition, I attend seminars in practice areas other than my main practice areas. I believe this gives my clients an edge because my perspective is broadened. For example, in divorce cases a couple may be dividing a business. Because of knowledge I have gained from business law seminars, I probably know more than the average divorce attorney about traps for the unwary when dividing a business. It usually saves my client money as well, because a business lawyer does not need to be consulted for ordinary matters. If I think a matter is one better suited for a business specialist, I of course urge my client to seek input from that type of professional.

Which courts do you practice in most frequently?

In Arizona, there are four major Maricopa County Superior Court locations: Northeast, Downtown, Southeast, and Northwest. I practice most often in the Northeast and Downtown courthouses. I am most familiar with the judges in those courthouses. I am no stranger to the other court locations — it’s just that most of my clients and their spouses (or ex-spouses) live in Scottsdale or Phoenix. When a new case is filed, the clerk assigns the case to the courthouse nearest to the filing attorney (or party, if there is no attorney representing that party).

Where are you licensed to practice?

Four jurisdictions: Arizona, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. I have taken and passed three bar exams on the first try. I did not need to take a bar exam for the District of Columbia law license. I simply needed to have a high enough score in my previous jurisdiction and pass a comprehensive background investigation. I graduated from law school in 1996. I took the Arizona bar exam that same summer and began practicing law later that year. In 1999 I studied for the Massachusetts bar exam while working 60 hours per week and passed it on the first try. I studied for the Maryland bar exam in 2000.

What is your educational background?

I earned my bachelors degree in psychology at the University of Southern California in 1993. I earned my doctor of law degree at Southwestern University in 1996. But my education did not stop there. On a regular basis I attend seminars, read books, examine changes in the laws, peruse bar journals, act as a judge and mediator in other people’s cases, and engage in other activities that keep me sharp.

Which kinds of cases have you handled in the past?

I’ve handled a wide variety of cases, although I haven’t done much criminal defense work. I’ve handled many general civil litigation cases, personal injury cases, business litigation cases, family law cases, bankruptcy cases, and traffic cases. I exposed myself to a wide variety of practice areas early in my career. This enabled me to get a broad perspective on how the various areas of the law may pertain to any given case.

How did you end up in your current practice areas?

I tried a wide variety of practice areas and eventually found that I was best at family law and bankruptcy cases (and of course, personal injury cases). What especially helped me was during my first few years of practice I found a niche area of practice representing residential tenants against their landlords. There were very few attorneys would take this kind of work because most tenants are not able to afford the fees attorneys need to make a profitable living. Indeed, I didn’t make much money when I was regularly representing tenants– in fact I probably lost money – but I gained lots of courtroom and trial experience very quickly. I tried cases in almost all of the Justice Courts and in the Superior Court. I became familiar with many of the judges and their staff members. I thought of it as part of my education, and it did pay off tremendously in the long run. It built my courtroom confidence and sharpened my advocacy skills.

Do you offer flat fees?

Yes, in bankruptcy cases we always offer flat rates. In family law cases, we do offer flat fees but only in limited situations. One such situation is if you have an “uncontested divorce.” Another is if you want us to draft or review a legal document such as a prenuptial agreement, marital (property) settlement agreement, divorce petition or response, etc. We also on occasion offer flat rates if you need us to only show up for one limited hearing or trial. Call our office for details.