Meet Sandy Van, the founder and managing attorney of Van Law Firm, a personal injury law firm that represents individuals affected by motor vehicle accidents in Las Vegas, Henderson, and throughout Washington. Founded in 2012, Van Law firm has quickly gained a reputation for successfully obtaining settlements for people injured in car accidents, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, sexually abused by institutions, water contamination, and slip and falls. The firm’s accident team takes a great amount of interest in the well-being of its clients and goes above and beyond to ensure they are treated fairly, with compassion and respect.
Sandy earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Later, she pursued law at the William S. Boyd School of Law. While pursuing her law degree, she interned for the Honorable Judge Nancy Saitta in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada. After completing her law school, Sandy clerked for the Honorable David Barker, District Court Judge, Clark County, Nevada.
In a recent interview with The Inc Magazine, Sandy reflected on her journey and the future of her law firm.
Below are the highlights of the interview;
Please tell me your story. How did you get your start?
I was a manicurist throughout college, and one of my clients was a district court judge who would later become a Nevada Supreme Court Justice. I was just about to graduate with a finance degree. My goal was to help people manage their finances to send their kids to college or save for retirement. However, there was a recession at the same time when I was graduating due to the 9/11 attacks, and the stock market was basically crashing. I didn’t know what I was going to do.
My client suggested that I go into law, which was recession-proof, and she said that I could help people by becoming an attorney. I studied for the LSAT and got a passing score, and the judge wrote my recommendation for law school. I passed the bar and became an attorney and was working for a firm doing civil litigation and basically rainmaking for the firm and bringing in business. I didn’t love commercial litigation, and being a rainmaker took a very long time to pay, so I started doing real estate. When I graduated from law school, the real estate market crashed, so I started doing short sales. While doing short sales, a law firm called me and asked if I could refer their law firm short sales. I realized that I could open my own law firm to process short sales as an attorney. So, I opened my own law firm to start processing short sales, loan modifications, and bankruptcy. At some point, the market recovered, and I had to pivot, so I started we started doing personal injury and, eventually mass torts.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
Although we only cater to personal injury clients, we are diverse in our offerings of what injuries we litigate. For example, we help people who have been injured through motor vehicle collisions, slip and falls, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, water contamination, or who have been sexually abused, etc.
Brief us about your company’s future perspectives.
We are trying to help as many people as we can in the mass tort and personal injury sphere. We do see that as more states are changing their laws to help those who have been injured, our business will only thrive and grow. We are keeping our team up to date on all the new and changing laws by attending many conferences.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
One of my goals from the beginning of my career was to make sure that my mom could retire. She is now retired. Seeing her travel with her friends and family and not having to worry about money is what I consider my greatest accomplishment.
Being a key person in this environment is very challenging and all-consuming—are you prepared for the challenge? (How would you Control the Situation?)
I know there are talks of a possible recession, and I have already taken steps to ensure that my team is prepared financially. I have lines of credit and funds reserved to carry us through rough patches. What I learned through the pandemic (one of many financial hurdles I have lived through) was that a true leader is proactive and looks for opportunities to pivot.
What is your “Secret Sauce?” i.e., what are the 3-5 Leadership Principles that you have discovered and executed that have contributed to your success?
My first tip is to try to hire well. We have learned to hire better although we still have things to learn. As Sam Walton said, “You’ve got to give folks responsibility, you’ve got to trust them, and then you’ve got to check on them.” Second, to delegate tasks and check on the status of the tasks periodically. Many people do not know how to delegate effectively; apparently, it is a skill. Third, it takes a team to build a business. We have several managers, and they help manage their respective teams. Fourth, always be learning. I have studied many successful people and read many biographies, and successful people know how to synthesize what they have learned and put information together. I am constantly attending conferences, listening to YouTube videos, and reading. It helps open my mind to different business ideas and ways of thinking.
What are your biggest failures professionally? What have you learned from them, and what would you do differently?
I have attention deficit disorder, or ADHD, which causes me to be very impatient and frustrated. It has caused me to be more irritable with people and processes. As I am getting older, I am becoming a lot more patient.
What does success look like for you?
When I have enough money to help people. My other goals revolve around big-picture ideas such as curing a disease, combating climate change, helping with education, or helping people with their businesses. I don’t believe in legacies. It is just better to help people and leave the world in a better place when you pass.
What are some of the new ideas you would implement in this position?
Lately, we have been looking into bringing more concepts in-house. We are looking into creating more companies that integrate with our core competencies.
What do others say about your leadership style? Give us some examples of your leadership skills.
As long as the work is completed, I stay out of the way. I provide direction at times because a good innovative leader has a sense of imagination that others may lack and see perspectives that other people do not see, although I am open to considering other people’s perspectives and ideas.
What is your “vision” in life, e.g., what drives you to a Successful Journey?
I want to have enough money to make a difference in this world.
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
A successful leader is simply a good person. In the legal industry, you see many people with egos. They want to win, no matter what the cost. That is the wrong way to approach things, in my opinion. According to Adam Grant, in the long run, the people that succeed are the givers.