Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Glick-Atalla.
Heather, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles (Encino, to be specific) and I have lived in this great city for almost my entire life. My parents wanted me to go away to college, and after touring dozens of universities around the country I settled on a little school all the way across town called USC (Fight On!). It wasn’t the distance from home that my parents hoped for but it’s safe to say that I had a fantastic, memorable, “true” college experience.
After graduating from USC I decided to apply to law school because I didn’t really know what else to do, and I had no real direction in my life. My father is an attorney and he had always encouraged me to become a lawyer and told me how much he enjoyed practicing law. In a “why not?” move, I took the LSAT and applied to a handful of law schools in Southern California. In the midst of receiving my acceptance/rejection letters, my mom passed away after an eight-year hard-fought battle with breast cancer. We were extremely close and I was devastated to lose my best friend. After she passed I decided to attend the University of San Diego School of Law, where I could finally “break free” from Los Angeles after my 23-year stint and start fresh after a very difficult loss.
To my surprise, I actually really enjoyed law school, and as it turned out, for the first time in my academic career, I excelled at it with ease. Something clicked for me during my three years at USD Law, and I truly found myself during that time. The combination of the interesting classes, gorgeous campus, exciting new city, engaging professors, and most of all, the people, made my time there magical (I can’t believe I’m describing law school as magical, but it really was!). I met my best girlfriends at USD Law, and I also happened to meet the love of my life and my now husband Nabil there – but more about him in a bit.
I graduated from law school in 2009 at the height of the economic recession. Many of my fellow classmates didn’t have job offers and instantly regretted going to law school only to graduate with a mountain of debt and no job prospects on the horizon. After three glorious years in San Diego I ended up right back where I started – and it was good to be home in Los Angeles.
While waiting for my bar results I clerked at Bet Tzedek Legal Services, where I helped Holocaust survivors obtain reparations from Germany. This was exciting and fulfilling work but my volunteer clerkship, unfortunately, wasn’t going to pay the rent, so when my dad asked me to come and work with him at his office in Encino I was thrilled to have a job offer. Deep down I think we both always knew that we would end up working together, but at that time I didn’t realize just how lucky I was to have this incredible opportunity.
My dad went out on his own when I was two years old, and he was a sole practitioner up until the day that I joined him. From day one he brought me in on every telephone call and meeting, had me draft every document, and taught me everything he knew about his practice areas from his 50+ years of serving his clients. I had the kind of hands-on learning experience that first-year associates at big law firms dream of – and it happened to be with someone I greatly admired and respected.
After working together for a few years my dad started scaling back his time at the office, while I ramped up my time both at the office and at business networking events. Eventually, I took over the practice completely and moved my office to Sherman Oaks, where I have been for the past five years. I still call my dad and pick his brain about legal issues, and we enjoy challenging each other’s thought processes.
In the midst of building my law practice, I married my law school sweetheart Nabil (who is also busy running his own immigration law firm), and we have two adorable boys, Nathan who is 4.5, and Brandon who just turned 2. There’s not a lot of sleep or quiet in my life right now, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m eternally blessed and hope to continue on this path, both professionally and personally, for many years to come.
Has it been a smooth road?
Not many people have the opportunity to take over a business while being mentored along the way, and I will forever be grateful to my dad for his time, guidance, and love. That being said, when a seasoned attorney with over 50 years of practice under his belt butts heads with a newly admitted (and at times stubborn) attorney, it can make for an interesting dynamic. It took several years of working with my dad, and a ton of patience on his part, before I felt comfortable (and confident) enough to fly solo in client meetings.
From a technology standpoint, it was extremely challenging bringing my dad into the 21st century – here’s where my patience kicked in. When I joined his practice, he was saving all documents to 3.5 inch hard discs (the real-life version of the “save” button in Microsoft Word), had no file management system, and had only recently switched over to Microsoft Word from a dos based word processing system called Samna – as in the old school black and green computer screen with no mouse. Slowly but surely I updated all of our systems, computers, and other technology, and I’m still in the process of migrating files over from the old system.
We’d love to hear more about your practice.
The focus of my law practice is estate planning, including drafting and administering wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care directives, and other estate plan documents. I’m also a nonprofit law attorney, and I regularly form and advise charities and other types of nonprofit organizations throughout the United States.
In 2017 I became a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. I work with everyone from young couples who just bought their first home or became parents, to individuals who are retired and need strategic planning to preserve their estate for the benefit of future generations. The plans that I create for each client are different, and because I draft the documents myself I do not have any “cookie-cutter” estate plans.
My dad taught me to be the kind of lawyer to my clients that I would want representing me if I was the client, and I pride myself on my knowledge of the law, responsiveness to calls and emails, and honesty with clients (even to a fault). When my clients call, I’m the one who picks up the phone, and I respond to every email. It is this personal attention that helps me get (and retain) clients. I do not advertise, and all of my clients come from referrals from existing clients and other professionals.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love everything about Los Angeles, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. L.A. has it all – amazing food, arts, culture, weather, interesting people, landmarks, scenery, and fun things to do. You could go somewhere new and do something you’ve never done before every single day of your life in this city and never repeat an experience. The downside is, of course, the traffic and congestion, but for me, it is well worth what this city has to offer in return.
- Address: 15303 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 1650
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
- Website: www.glicklaw.com
- Phone: 818-345-2223
- Email: email@example.com