MendenFreiman Celebrates 25 Years
The law firm, co-founded by Larry Freiman, rings in a quarter-century this year.
“It’s like the beginning of a classic joke,” says Atlanta attorney Larry Freiman, “a Jew and a Mormon get together to start a law firm.”
That’s how Freiman describes the beginning of his partnership with George Menden and the firm they founded together, MendenFreiman, which turns 25 this year. The boutique practice focuses on business law and estate planning, areas Freiman could not have imagined working in when he was studying for his BA at the State University of New York at Albany. (He earned his JD/ MBA at the University of Florida.)
At the time, pursuing law just to supplement his business degree, he had started to consider working in mergers and acquisitions, but a couple summers at a firm in Atlanta changed his mind for good. Freiman began to work with small business owners — “real people with real lives,” as he put it — a stark contrast from the corporate environment he’d expected to work in.
A few years later, in 1997, Menden was looking for someone to start a firm with and reached out to Freiman through an industrial psychologist. Despite differences in age, religion, culture and law expertise, the two had almost perfectly compatible values.
“Compassion and excellence,” Freiman said, when asked to sum up those values in one or two words. “We create relationships that last for years and years and years — we started with the parents, we’re working with the children. Well over 80 percent of our business comes from existing clients who come back to us, and that makes me very proud.”
While MendenFreiman itself is not a family-owned firm, both founders have family members who have been deeply involved in the business. Menden’s father was the firm’s first director of operations, a role now filled by Freiman’s father, Allan Freiman.
“I employed Larry when I was in business,” Allan said, “now, it’s like a full circle.” Like his son, Allan has no doubts about the source of MendenFreiman’s success: “The success of the firm has been in the caliber of the employees and our relationship with our clients.”
The firm has expanded rapidly in the past three years, growing from some 20 employees to around 34. This includes new Co-Managing Partner Lance Einstein, who joined MendenFreiman with a number of attorneys shortly after Menden retired at the beginning of 2019.
According to Anne Goehring, the head paralegal who has been with the firm for over 20 years, Einstein’s arrival not only added a new area of practice — tax controversy — he also happened to be a perfect fit for the workplace dynamics.
“Lance and Larry really complement each other in a way that provides a healthy environment for all the people they employ,” she said.
Einstein himself stressed how important that environment and those people were to the firm: “No matter if you’re a receptionist or a partner, we want you to be as successful as you can be in your career and your life,” he said. “We really value growing our people — helping them accomplish their goals means we’re helping to further the firm’s goals.”
Indeed, several receptionists and assistants at MendenFreiman have gone on to become paralegals or attorneys for the firm.
Johnnie Hooper, who started as the sole assistant for a solo practitioner and is now the firm’s executive legal assistant, calls it the “best decision I’ve made in recent years … They have a pleasant environment, and they strive to keep it that way.”
Hooper described various company outings, including multiple years of running the Kaiser Permanente Road Race. Since COVID-19 began, there have been several trips to Top Golf. This year, the firm will be celebrating its quarter-century in operation by taking all employees and their significant others on a four-day trip to St. Simon’s Island sometime in October.
As for the firm’s next 25 years, Freiman says he can see the practice he founded eventually carrying on without him.
“And that is not easy to say in a small business, or, in particular, in a law firm,” he said. “Client relationships are very personal, not necessarily institutional, so having a firm that can survive a founder’s retirement is a big deal.”