August 29, 2011

Ten Years and 18,600 Closings Later…


Next month will be the 10 year anniversary of Murray Law Group, LLC. Opened by Jim Murray as a one man practice limited to doing a few real estate closings the company has grown to have seven attorneys in four offices throughout the county capable of representing its clients in a wide range of areas of practice.

For 25 years before deciding to go to law school, Jim was a Realtor®, eventually promoted to handle the marketing for one of the nation’s largest real estate companies.  It’s no wonder that he was able to apply much of his acquired knowledge of real estate and marketing to his own practice of law.  

“Marketing”, Jim explained, “is not trying to sell the public what you have, but instead delivering to the public what they want, which is the best possible service, a highly competitive price, and convenient locations.”

I knew to be successful I would have to deliver the best possible service, at a highly competitive price, and be able to deliver it at geographically convenient locations.  Based on the geography of Horry County, it wasn’t hard to know we would eventually need the four offices we have today.” 

And so, just two years later, impressed by her competency and similar work ethic, Jim convinced attorney Katharine Keaton to join his vision and open the firm’s second office in North Myrtle Beach.   “It was the best business decision I’ve ever made.”  Jim added, “she’s not only the brains of the operation but adds a good bit of class.  And, what’s especially good, is I think she thinks it’s been one of her best business decisions too.”

In order to deliver the best possible service we had to be available when buyers and sellers needed us.  Going to Court, where Judges pretty much could demand you alter your schedule was not compatible with delivering this level of service and so Jim and Katharine mutually agreed to limit their practice to real estate, wills, trusts and business formations — nothing that caused them to be at the whim of the Court.   

Jim could see his concept was working.  The main source of business for real estate closings is real estate agents and mortgage loan originators.  The good ones, the ones that are generating the lion’s share of the transactions and have the greatest potential to refer business are extremely busy people.   They don’t want to have to travel halfway across the county to attend one of their closings.  Sure enough it didn’t take Katharine’s office long to build to a point it doubled the firm’s volume of business.  This created the confidence to build office number three in April of 2004.  “Being a believer in owning real estate, we found a very unique lot to custom build our office in Murrells Inlet” said  Jim, “On the Pond Professional Building has practically become a landmark due to the unique nature of the structure which sits on pilings in the middle of a huge pond.”   Attorney Dan Guiney manages that office and just last month celebrated his sixth anniversary with Murray Law.  The new building was also Jim’s first opportunity to introduce the one-stop shopping concept housing a mortgage lender, real estate company, and insurance agency all at the same location of the law practice where they could close the transaction and coordinate all four elements of the typical transaction.

By November of 2005, Katharine’s business in North Myrtle had grown to a point that they needed more space so Katharine and Jim bought a commercial property ideally located across from the North Myrtle Beach High School on Sea Mountain Highway.   It was about this same time that Nancy Zovnic started working as an intern in the Myrtle Beach office.  Business was good and with a fairly extensive client base, growing every day from the business of the three offices, Jim realized the time was approaching that they  would want to expand the services that could be offered to their clients.

Jim explained, “here we were sending our clients that needed other legal services to our competition, but I know if we tried to add these on top of our real estate closings it wouldn’t work.  No one wants to hear their closing was delayed due to a some trial lasting an extra day.  We needed a separate team of attorneys that would handle the non-real estate business, but we would need more space.”

In October of 2007, Murray Law began the construction of their new Myrtle Beach office on Mayfair Street just blocks from their initial Myrtle Beach office.   Pleased with the job done by Donnie Stewart Construction in Murrells Inlet they were chosen to build the 8,000 square foot suite of offices.  Again, the one-stop shopping concept was a part of the plan, along with the ability to add more attorneys to broaden the firm’s areas of practice.  “The building’s completion closely aligned with Nancy ’s acceptance to the Bar and so her internship turned into a real win-win for all of us, including our clients,” exclaimed Murray.   She now manages the real estate operations at the Mayfair office. 

Soon afterwards, “We also wanted to complete our geographical expansion by adding a Conway office”.  Murray continued, “It was a little slower getting off the ground than expected, partially the market conditions at the time and partially we just didn’t have the right person at the helm.”  In January of this year that changed when Jim Feldman, a well established veteran Horry County attorney joined Murray Law and they moved their Conway office to its new location on Beatty Street.  “Feldman was an incredible addition to the team, he knows his business, knows tons of folks and everyone he knows seems to think the world of him.  He’s already doing more business each month he’s been open than we’ve ever done in Conway.”  

The last addition to the team, also earlier this year, was the addition of attorneys John Ahn and Lauren Vinson.  Attorney Ahn has a stellar reputation having been practicing in the area for the last 10 years.  He is one of very few attorneys in the county that handles Immigration law matters.  He also handles family law, personal injury and some contract litigation.  Lauren further expands the firm’s current areas of practice to include social security, worker’s compensation, traffic and DUI violations, and some other criminal law areas.

“John and Lauren have been an incredible addition to the team.  “It’s a work in progress.” Murray concluded

“We’re not just real estate any more!”

While not quite full service yet, we’re getting real close.  I’m real proud of all we have achieved in just 10 years and mostly that we did it without ever losing sight of the fact that our mission is to deliver what the folks want; excellent service, fair prices, delivered at locations convenient to them by staff that is competent and friendly!”