Why law firm, 50 years in, continues to think like a startup

Shulman Rogers hit the 50-year mark in 2022, but that’s less interesting to Managing Partner Sam Spiritos than ensuring the law firm keeps thinking like a startup.

“We continuously look at our practice and ask, ‘If we were starting our firm today, how would we do it?’ ” Spiritos said. “How do we become better? How do we incorporate technology into our offerings so that we can deliver more efficient legal services at a better value to our clients? What kind of culture do we want to have? How do we attract and retain top talent?”

That approach, always trying to stay fresh and innovative, is also one of the reasons he believes the law firm — serving clients nationwide from offices across the Washington metropolitan region — has been able to successfully expand its practice at a time when many firms and businesses held steady or even shrank.

In 2022, Shulman Rogers added 16 new lawyers to its ranks, a growth rate of 20%. Today, the firm has 90-plus lawyers and a support staff of more than 50. It also expanded its offices in Northern Virginia. The firm, which first opened its doors in Potomac, Maryland, in 1972, today has locations to serve its clients in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Law firm with a people-first culture

“We think about our growth goals as much as we think about wanting our clients and our people to be happy and successful,” said Matt Alegi, co-chair of the firm’s Mergers and Laterals Committee. “Yes, we have strategic plans, growth plans and a business plan that we continually evolve. But those plans all revolve around our cultural values.”

As Shulman Rogers has added new lawyers and new practice areas, it also has attracted top-tier attorneys, many from ALM 100 firms, Spiritos said.

“They gravitate toward us because it allows them to practice at the highest levels but also be in an office that’s closer to their homes or reduces their commutes and to be part of an organization where people actually like to come to work,” he said.

But the firm also looks beyond collegiate and law firm pedigrees when it brings on lawyers, Spiritos said. Wanting to both do great work and achieve a work-life balance — and become “part of the fabric of the firm” — matters too.

“We pride ourselves on being a best-in-class, sophisticated law firm, but it’s important for us to continue to attract people that can help us maintain that culture,” he said.

Creating full-service legal presence in Northern Virginia

Shulman Rogers has a similar perspective when it comes to its clients, he said.

“We really like to partner with our clients, not just execute legal documents and transactions,” Spiritos said. “We try to be thoughtful about what we can do for them, what relationships we can introduce them to, and what opportunities are out there that we can share with them. How can we help them be successful?”

It was the combination of wanting to have close relationships with clients and provide a location nearer where some of its lawyers and staff lived that led the firm to expand its footprint in Northern Virginia in 2022.

“By being day to day, onsite in Virginia, we can be more entwined in the community,” Spiritos said. “We can develop relationships that allow us to better help our clients and allow us to be in a position to grow our services for them too.”

Although the firm had a small office in Tysons Corner, during the past year, Shulman Rogers relocated and opened a new, larger, fully staffed office in the area. It also added a smaller full-time location in Alexandria.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up