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Front & Center: Spokane Business Attorneys founder Christal Lam helps local businesses launch, grow and thrive

Spokane Business Attorneys founder Christal Lam is helping local companies launch, grow and thrive. The law firm is planning a relocation from downtown Spokane to a larger space in Liberty Lake later this year.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
Spokane Business Attorneys founder Christal Lam is helping local companies launch, grow and thrive. The law firm is planning a relocation from downtown Spokane to a larger space in Liberty Lake later this year. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

For more than six years, Spokane Business Attorneys founder and managing attorney, Christal Lam, has been helping entrepreneurs start, buy, grow, protect and sell companies.

In 2015, Lam founded Kairos Law PLLC, which does business as Spokane Business Attorneys. The law firm, which has six employees, takes a practical approach to legal needs of business owners by explaining complex ideas and collaborating to achieve results.

“We focus on problem solving through creative solutions and trying to find a way to say yes. We can’t always say yes,” Lam said. “However, it’s important to help a client understand a little bit more of ‘the why’ instead of just telling them no.

“I think clients appreciate that we’ll take the time to explain things. Because of this approach, clients feel like we are ‘their attorney’ and a partner or trusted advisor for their business.”

That approach has generated a growing client base and prompted an expansion of Spokane Business Attorneys, which is relocating from downtown Spokane to the River District in Liberty Lake later this year.

“As I was looking to keep growing the firm, I knew I wanted to find the right place to locate as we continued on to the next phase of growth,” Lam said. “I started looking at different office spaces in different communities to see what’s going to be the right place for us to continue to take advantage of the various opportunities that are coming along.”

Love of learning

Lam, who was born in Malaysia, moved to Seattle with her parents when she was 2.

From a young age, Lam enjoyed learning and teaching others.

“Growing up, people would always tell me, ‘You’re really good at explaining things. You should be a teacher or a professor because you can take these complex ideas and just simplify it,’ she said.

“I just feel like I have a little bit more of that ability to be able to break things down. I think part of that comes from the love of learning and just wanting to understand how things work.”

While in high school, Lam obtained an associate’s degree via Running Start, a program that allows students to obtain both high school and college credits.

She subsequently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Biola University in Southern California.

“I ended up in philosophy, because of reading, writing and logic,” she said.

“I wanted to be able to learn how to analyze things better because I thought that would be really good skill set to have – wherever I ended up.”

After a professor of Lam’s suggested law as a career path, she audited a class on constitutional law and found it interesting, she said.

Lam chose to attend the Gonzaga University School of Law. While there, she completed an internship as a Rule 9 law clerk with the Washington State Attorney General.

That internship introduced Lam to attorneys with a wide range of experience and various areas of law practice, including administrative, labor and education, all of which involve business.

Lam graduated from the Gonzaga University School of Law in 2013 and was awarded the Dean’s Platinum Pro Bono Award of Distinction for more than 500 hours of pro bono service.

After graduation, Lam served as an attorney for more than a year at Christianson & Associates, where she researched, wrote, briefed, and argued motions in state and federal court.

In addition, she helped with cases that went to trial.

As a licensed attorney, Lam was required to undergo continuing legal education, which shifted her perspective that law firms should be treated as businesses.

“I was kind of looking at some of the other law firms,” she said.

“A lot of them are run as businesses and that was a really interesting idea. I thought that’s kind of what I want. I wanted to be able to have a law firm and I wanted to be a business owner.”

Opportune moment

Lam combined her desire to open a law firm and be a business owner in 2015 when she founded Kairos Law PLLC, which operates as Spokane Business Attorneys.

Kairos is a Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment.

“I thought this was a great name because I wanted to be able to help my clients always find the right opportunities and be prepared to act at ‘the right now,’ ” she said. “The ability to make a decision and take action are probably some of the most important qualities of a good business owner and leader.

“I wanted to work with clients who were positive, optimistic and willing to take action to get the life that they want.”

When Lam initially launched Spokane Business Attorneys, she was faced with a challenge encountered by many entrepreneurs: how to market and generate business.

Lam set a goal to meet 90 people in 90 days. She attended Greater Spokane Incorporated events and networked with other business owners and community members.

“One of the things for me in the beginning was – I need to generate business,” she said. “So what do I need to do? I need to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

“You’ve got to learn how to sell. You’ve got to learn how to ask for what you want. You’ve got to learn to be willing to face rejection. But you get rewarded for it.”

Spokane Business Attorneys provides general counsel services to new and existing companies with a personal approach of blending business expertise and law.

Some of the law firm’s services include guidance in launching a business, contract review, succession planning and assistance with purchase and sale agreements, among other things.

A typical day – or week – for Lam could involve negotiating with a general counsel and business development team for a large company looking to acquire a client of the law firm, helping an entrepreneur start up a business from scratch, training employees, reviewing and writing contracts or discussing growth plans with a client looking to expand operations.

“Just being able to work with such a wide range of clients is really rewarding and fulfilling,” Lam said. “Everything changes day to day, week to week … you get to see that big sale, the very beginning and everything in between and it’s just a lot of fun to be able to look into all of that and see how you’re affecting those business owners – their lives and their legacies – but also their employees.”

A career in law

Lam advises those considering a career in law to first ask themselves why they are drawn to the legal field and then reach out to attorneys or law students to learn about their experiences.

“There are a lot of attorneys who would be willing to sit down and talk to someone who has an interest in the law,” she said.

She also encourages people interested in the legal field to take or audit a law class, and visit their local courthouse and observe a trial, jury selection or motion hearing.

“Give yourself different experiences of what the law is and the different settings where the law is at work,” she said. “Most importantly, develop the skill of asking for help and admitting when you don’t know something. It will serve you well.”

Part of a growing community

Lam is looking forward to the future of Spokane Business Attorneys, which is slated to relocate to Liberty Lake in December.

“That’ll be really exciting, just to be able to grow and scale ourselves and pass along some of that knowledge and experience to our clients,” she said. “Certainly, we are excited about being able to work with more people within that very broad range of what we do and continue to build our legacy, help them build their legacy, also, and just be part of a growing Liberty Lake community.”

Lam chose to relocate Spokane Business Attorneys to the River District’s Welcome Center, in part, because of developer Greenstone’s commitment to local businesses and the community.

“Those are all really things I care about and my firm cares about as we grow,” she said. “So there is kind of a shared vision there.”

The Liberty Lake location allows the law firm to potentially expand its workforce to 20 employees and also provides clients with a visual representation of growing businesses from its windows as the River District’s commercial town center develops around the structure, Lam said.

“Businesses can grow, build and kind of change the landscape in the same way,” Lam said. “I just thought it’s a really great opportunity and really cool space.”

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