BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
When Sona A. Tatiyants decided to create her own Southern California estate planning law practice, she wanted it to be different. She wanted it to be untraditional and unconventional. She wanted to differentiate it from every other law firm.
While most estate planning firms focus on older families with more established wealth and assets, Sona decided to focus on what she considered an untapped market: younger families in their 30s and 40s, a group she felt was seriously underserved by estate planning attorneys.
“I knew it was underserved because I’m part of this group,” she says in her typical enthusiastic manner. “Virtually everyone I talked to said ‘Oh no, that’s not a market that estate planning attorneys go after. You won’t do well. Younger clients don’t have money for a trust. This is not a good idea.’
“But I would tell them, ‘Yes, it is a market – that’s because I am my own ideal client. I saw a need myself for estate planning and having a trust and other essential documents in place. I can benefit from it. My family can benefit from it. My business can benefit from it.’”
Since launching her firm, Lynk Law Inc. in Glendale, Calif., her practice has soared — not only because of her focus on young families, but also because she has thoroughly embraced her clientele by building and fostering long-term relationships with them. Her growth has enabled her to open a second office in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
“What’s different about our firm is that we don’t want our clients to come in and do an estate plan once and we never see them again until someone passes,” Sona says. “We want to take that life journey with our clients. We want to be a part of their lives and have them be part of our community. That was extremely important to me – and we found it’s important to our clients.”
Lynk Law’s clients are typically in their 30s and 40s. They are hard-working professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives who are literally going through the same stages of their lives together with children, work and business.
“It’s a fantastic business model,” says Jennifer Burnham Grubbs, owner of Quantum Insurance Services in Los Angeles and a client of Lynk Law, Inc. “Rather than focusing on people who are at the tail end of their lives and looking to wrap things up before they pass – which is so final and sad — Sona thought ‘what if we create good habits with young couples from the very beginning of their journey through life.’ That’s the way to do it: set good habits in motion and create life-long clients. It’s things like that – thinking fresh out of the box – that make her successful. Sona is very 21st century.”
There is a special link, a special bond, between the firm and its clients — hence the name Lynk Law (‘y’ is used instead of ‘i’ purposely and creatively).
“I decided to use ‘Lynk’ because there is an essential link that comes before and after all of us,” Sona says. “I look at estate planning as a bridge between a family’s ancestry and future generations – and preparing for what comes next. It’s an essential link to multiple generations of families.”
Lynk Law’s links stretch from the office to the larger community that the firm is part of. Sona has emerged as a remarkable referral base for her clients – from introductions to lawyers and insurance specialists to everything and everyone in between. Whatever a client needs, Sona is there to help. And because most of her clients are professionals themselves, many times the referrals are made back to her own clients, thus strengthening the ties between the firm and their clients.
“Whenever possible, I try to find ways to give business back to my clients,” she says. “I feel honored that they would give me their business, and if I ever get the opportunity, I want to return the favor. If my clients trust me with their family and assets, I absolutely trust them with my family and my clients.
“I feel fortunate to meet so many incredible people as part of my job, and the honor of getting to know them and their families in the most intimate ways. I feel that it is my duty to help my clients and their families not only with their estate planning, but everything else that I can,” she says.
That support includes her clients’ non-profit interests. She donates money and her time, speaks to clients’ children about going to law school, and even has had them intern at her firm. She also helps clients through job searches by making introductions to key players in her network.
Not only does Sona have her hands full with her law practice and family, but she has also co-founded another company, a networking organization called The Exchange LA, which she describes as “a modern approach to networking with a non-profit twist.”
In addition to the regular monthly networking meetings, there are also Parent-Child networking opportunities, a Happy Hour Circle, a Business Book Club Circle and a Work-Out Circle.
“Whatever interest a member has that they want to share with the other members, we want to be part of it,” Sona says. “We believe the best way to get to know someone you want to refer business is to share things in common. It’s an opportunity for professionals get to know each other on a more personal level and grow their businesses and communities together.”
She pauses for a moment and adds: “Networking, done right, can help to propel a business to the next level in name recognition, community relationships, and, ultimately, profits.”
She knows this to be true first hand. After all, this is what helped her grow her law practice. She now wants others to benefit in their business by creating a larger network of professionals through The Exchange LA, which has already expanded to five cities in the greater LA area – Glendale, Encino, Pasadena, Woodland Hills and Century City – and currently features 115 members.
Unlike other networking groups, each Exchange LA group must feature 1-2 non-profit organizations.
“We’re committed to philanthropy and to help provide a portal for community members to join boards of local nonprofit organizations,” she says.
She takes immense pride in her accomplishments – mostly in the adept manner in which she imagines possibilities and executes them.
“I love creating something out of nothing. It gives me immense pride to see things blossom from an idea to reality.”
And, in fact, she has done this again and again. She imagined what Lynk Law, Inc. could and should be — and she created a law firm that’s unlike any other. She envisioned a new networking group and formed The Exchange with her business partners to carry out their vision of what a modern networking group should be.
Imagine, flesh it out and execute. That’s her model.
“Sona is a powerful juggernaut of a business visionary,” says Jennifer Grubbs, the owner of Quantum Insurance Services. “She is always ahead of the curve and is a phenomenal visionary as an entrepreneur. She is a storm of positive vision and energy that brings initiatives and ideas into reality. Sona is someone who just gets it and gets things done. I’ve never met anyone like her — she has an amazing ability to be everywhere and do everything for everybody.”
And Sona doesn’t just talk about caring for her clients. She shows it. One of her firm’s clients suffered a tragedy: a young husband was diagnosed with an incurable condition. He was slowly dying. After finding out, Sona called one of her other clients, well-known photographer Andrew Zinn, and hired him to spend a day at the family’s home taking photographs and videos “so the children would clearly remember what it was like when their father was healthy. I wanted them to have those fond memories and to remember cherished moments with their father,” Sona says, fighting back tears.
Examples like that are typical of the impact she has on friends, clients and business associates. Take her clients, Christopher DeAnde and Michael Bracken, who had been in a long-term relationship for 17 years. Though they had toyed with the idea of getting married, they never pulled the plug — until they met with Sona for their estate planning needs. After the first meeting, she clearly outlined the tax and estate planning benefits of getting married.
“Next thing we knew, we were getting married,” DeAndre says enthusiastically. “Sona has a gift of making people feel very comfortable. When we were walking toward our car afterwards, I turned to Michael and said, ‘I had no idea planning for our demise could be so much fun,” he says with a laugh.
“And that’s because of Sona and who she is and what she stands for,” he adds. “She has a wonderful communication technique and is a genuinely warm, spirited individual. Initially, I wasn’t looking forward to talking about death and trusts, but she took all the scariness and fear out of it.”
Sona A. Tatiyants, President and Founder
Lynk Law, Inc.
616 E. Glenoaks Blvd, Suite 203
Glendale, CA 91207