In August 2008, Hughes & Coleman acquired the widely known New Mexico law firm Ron Bell Injury Lawyers. Lee Coleman explains to One Shot how Hughes & Coleman has since expanded into Albuquerque with the new brand Ron Bell.
Q: What first caught Hughes & Coleman’s eye regarding the possibilities in Albuquerque?
A: We felt that the Ron Bell name was extremely well known in the Albuquerque market but that the brand was not being used to its full potential.
Q: Did you over- or underestimate the difficulty in assimilating the firms’ cultures?
A: I think we did a fairly good job understanding the level of difficulty between the contrasting cultures. We realized that things were very different.
Nevertheless, it has been very difficult because there are several differences between how things were handled at Ron Bell versus how they are handled at Hughes & Coleman.
Q: In terms of running the law firm in Albuquerque, what is the most important day-to-day consideration?
A: The most important function is recognizing when things are not going right, when they need to be done differently, and most importantly, when help is needed. When necessary, we call on our Bowling Green staff for help and assistance, which has proved to be very valuable.
“The most important function is recognizing when things are not going right … when help is needed.”
Q: How do you split your time between Bowling Green and Albuquerque?
A: I spend three to four days a week in Albuquerque and one day in Bowling Green. For the first eight months, I would say that I have spent about 85 percent of my working days in Albuquerque.
Q: After finalizing the purchase of the brand Ron Bell, how long did it take to confirm it was the right decision?
A: Within the first 60 days, we were confident that we had made the right decision, although it has been much harder than we might have thought. There was a lot of work that needed to be done to fully utilize the Ron Bell brand and to maximize the value of the cases. There is still quite a lot of work to do, but we do believe it will be profitable for our firm.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone else considering the purchase of another brand?
A: Realize that the attorneys and staff of the firm you are purchasing are scared to death, do not know what is going to happen, and will assume the worst in most situations. For us, it has taken quite a bit of time for the staff members at Ron Bell to trust us and understand that we have their best interests at heart.