30 Great Places to Work 2018
How it all started
Adrian Adams and Laura Whipple met at a law firm that specialized in entertainment and business law, but had a small common-interest development practice. Adrian saw community associations as the future and persuaded Laura to join him in starting an HOA-specialty law firm.
There was a great need for education among HOA Management Companies and Boards of Directors, and Adams Stirling’s mission was to provide that education. In 2001, the company started to build the educational website Davis-Stirling.com, as an easily searchable resource for the industry to keep abreast of current events in the field, legal issues, and changes to the law. Davis-Stirling.com launched in 2004, caught fire within two years, and has become the gold standard in the industry – so much so that even competing law firms use it as the industry “bible.”
Adams Stirling’s watchword
The company’s motto is Leading through Education. It believes in sharing information freely and making it easily accessible, so community association members always benefit from excellent and informed representation. The Davis-Stirling site highlights industry events and participants, even from competing firms, because Adams Stirling is secure in its position.
The organization strongly believes that its people differentiate the company and consistently makes room for new talent. With the best people on board, new business always follows and Adams Stirling is in a great position to service it.
About the work front
Adams Stirling is proud of and invests in its people, assisting many team members with tuition for paralegal school, and even helping a team member make a career move from Administrative Assistant to the technology field. It helps attorneys earn their College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) designation, which demonstrates their skill, experience and high standards of professional and ethical conduct in community association law, and raises their industry profiles. Adams Stirling encourages its attorneys to make public appearances and spotlights them at industry events, where many of its competitors keep all attorneys except named partner(s) in the shadows.
The team says, “We foster servant leadership, collaboration and a collegial atmosphere. We don’t tolerate gossip, don’t emphasize hierarchy, and challenge our employees with work that stretches and helps them grow. We believe in lifting our teams through praise, not keeping them in line through fear.”
The company provides benefits competitive with much larger companies, at the expense of Partner profits. People are proud to work there, and it shows.
“Our reputation precedes us; Association Managers and HOA Boards come to us because they know our quality,” says the team. The company has very little turnover, and it credits this to treating everyone like family – a functional family.
A lifestyle firm
The billable hours requirement for attorneys is significantly lower than other firms, so those who have families actually have time to spend with them; but the company also provides incentives to those who choose to exceed those requirements. Adams Stirling encourages staff to attend their children’s school events, sporting events, etc. – it wants them to feel supported in being present for their families.
Although the firm’s formal long-term strategic plan is still being developed, its vision is clear: grow in California. The organization currently represents 3,000 Associations, but there are 55,000 in the state, and more break ground every day! The enterprise will broaden the range of its services, such as expanding its Employment Law practice and other services to benefit its clients.
Say hello to the talented duo!
Adrian Adams is one of the preeminent attorneys in California specializing in common interest developments. Besides creating the free online education resource Davis-Stirling.com, he publishes a popular periodic newsletter. He serves as an expert witness on standards of care issues involving association boards and managers and has testified extensively on issues involving maintenance, mold, rules enforcement, budgets, reserves, governing documents, management, and operations. In his spare time, Adrian has built a home in the mountain community of Idyllwild, California (he personally poured its foundation, framed rooms, and hung sheetrock) and continues to refine its outdoor space virtually every weekend.
Laura Whipple, Adams Stirling PLC’s Executive Director, oversees all Firm operations. She is active in the Association of Legal Administrators - Greater Los Angeles, serving on its Board in multiple capacities, and edits the Chapter’s quarterly magazine. Laura belongs to UN Women, whose aim is to heighten awareness of women’s leadership, economic empowerment, end violence against women and promote security for women around the globe. A paralegal, Laura holds a BA in European History, an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and remains an active participant in and supporter of the Arts.
“Adams Stirling is well-known for its weekly newsletter and award-winning website, Davis-Stirling.com.”
“Our diverse portfolio consists of high-rises, master-planned, senior housing, resort, equestrian, golf, lake, mixed-use, industrial and commercial associations, and stock cooperatives.”