Always be open to reconsidering what you think you know.
Tim Coffield, Attorney, is a licensed law professional based in Charlottesville, Virginia. After an extensive education and dedicated work, Tim founded his legal practice, Coffield PLC, in 2012. Prior to his start as an attorney, Tim obtained his B.A degrees from North Carolina State University in Philosophy and English. His education continued to the University of Montana, where he earned his M.F.A in Creative Writing and taught undergraduate writing courses. In 2011, Tim graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and began his profession as a dedicated attorney.
From his early years in the law and litigation field, Tim has had a passion for law, and serving different areas as a dedicated and trusted attorney. His early career, through law school and after, began with a focus on environmental and natural resources law where he worked towards addressing state and federal environmental issues and clean water laws. As a Law Clerk/Fellow at Trout Unlimited, Tim focused much of his time on regulatory matters regarding gas pipelines and state water use regulations. He also has additional experience in collaborating and working with environmental conservation groups.
As owner and operator of Coffield PLC, Tim has a primary focus on areas such as employment and civil rights law, civil litigation, business and estate planning, and contract disputes. Much of his experience comes from managing and resolving various civil cases in both federal and state court. Tim has a passion for representing and helping employees and has dedicated a majority of his practice to doing so. One of Tim’s most notable accomplishments is his serving as a co-class counsel in Boswell v. Panera Bread Co. 2016 WL 1161573 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 24, 2016). This case was not only nationwide, but obtained a multi-million dollar judgment on behalf of the class members. Other notable cases that Tim has represented include Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159 (4th Cir. 2016), where he was successfully able to argue before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and obtained a partial reversal in the case; and Smith v. Loudoun County Public Schools, Case No. 1:15-CV-956,Dkt. No. 128 (E.D Va. November 15, 2016), where he obtained a jury verdict in the Eastern District of Virginia under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Tim Coffield founded Coffield PLC with the goal of running a practice that is not only defined by its clients but is trusted and dedicated to serving clients based on individual needs. He understands that each client and business faces different challenges, and has different legal issues; there is no cookie cutter solution. He is passionate about crafting personalized legal strategies for each of his clients and is dedicated to serving them with his best foot forward.
In addition to his extensive education and experience, Tim is affiliated with various professional organizations, including the Virginia Employment Lawyers Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, and the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I’m an attorney. When I first started out, I noticed a lot of prospective clients had questions about their legal rights and responsibilities in the context of the employer-employee relationship. The laws governing these rights and responsibilities are often nuanced and fact-specific, and not always well-publicized. It seemed like there was an opportunity to provide a useful service by focusing my legal practice on these laws, and on employment rights and responsibilities generally.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
On days when I’m not in court, in the morning I typically have consultations with existing or prospective clients, and take phone calls or exchange correspondence with other attorneys. In the afternoon, I typically focus on moving existing projects forward — preparing memoranda, court filings, or administrative filings for agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Virginia’s Office of Equal Employment and Dispute Resolution.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I make a list of small, achievable tasks that serve the idea. Then I tackle the list item by item.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend towards electronic filing and electronic evidence presentation in courts and administrative agencies. Compared to paper filings and preparing large binders of paper exhibits, I think electronic means of exchanging and presenting evidence in court and administrative proceedings saves time and money. It’s a more efficient and effective way to share information.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t know if this qualifies as a habit, but I make a concerted effort to keep in close touch with my clients throughout the representation. Phone calls, emails, texts. Whatever works best. A good friend once told me that more communication is always better, and I’ve found this to be true in life and in business. I think it’s especially true in the attorney-client context, where clear communication about goals and expectations is vital to a lasting and effective relationship.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t drive the truck onto a sandbar in the inlet waterway. The tide will come in.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If almost nobody agrees with you about something you believe is true, chances are you may be wrong. Always be open to reconsidering what you think you know.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
This goes well beyond building a business, but I think it’s important to work hard at building healthy, trusting relationships with everyone we encounter. This includes relationships with purported rivals and those who don’t always share our perspectives or objectives.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Asking clients to consider referring friends or family members to me. This a classic, old school form of business development, and if you build strong relationships with existing clients, it can be wonderfully effective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I could have done a better job meeting and building relationships with other attorneys. I was a little shy. I’ve worked to overcome this by making a concerted effort to spend quality time with other folks in the same line of work — by attending conferences, having lunch, trying to help answer questions on attorney listservs. That sort of thing. Strong relationships are the center of everything, personally and professionally.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Gyms in airports. Or at least some pullup bars sprinkled in between the newsstands.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Adobe Sign. This software makes it infinitely easier for people to review and sign documents, through email, even on their phones — without having to waste paper or spend money on a scanner.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
As an attorney with a nearly paperless office, I need reliable software to manage electronic documents and client information, keep track of my time, and perform accounting tasks. I use a web service called Clio to organize documents, organize client matters, track time, and keep the books — among many other administrative tasks involved in running a law practice. The company’s customer service is outstanding. I recommend it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Terkel’s Working. The book collects interviews with people about what they do for a living. It opened my eyes to how vital a job can be, not just to a person’s economic well-being, but to her sense of self and place in the greater community.
What is your favorite quote?
“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently. ” – Bill Waterson, Calvin & Hobbes.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.