2012 Columbus Smart Leaders: Tim Owens, Partner, Chair, Employment & Labor Law Practice Group, Lane, Alton & Horst

Tim Owens, Partner and Chair, Employment & Labor Law Practice Group, Lane, Alton & Horst

Tim Owens, Partner and Chair, Employment & Labor Law Practice Group, Lane, Alton & Horst

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

Since its establishment over 50 years ago, Lane Alton & Horst has enjoyed an impeccable reputation for integrity and the highest quality legal representation in all types of trial work. However, even though the Firm had established business and employment law practice areas, the Firm recognized that the central Ohio business community considered Lane Alton & Horst primarily as a trial practice law firm, not a business law firm. The Firm was committed to changing this mindset. Accordingly, beginning in 2010, the Firm recognized that in order to better serve its existing business and employment law clients, as well as to grow those practice areas, it needed to expand its expertise in business, tax, and employment law by adding lawyers who had similar reputations for integrity and high quality legal work in those areas. It made and implemented this decision even though the legal industry, like the rest of the business world, was mired in a recession. From January 2010 to date, the Firm has added four partners, including myself, who have brought employment, business, tax, trust and estate, and business succession planning expertise to the Firm’s existing and growing client base. All of the Firm’s lawyers are committed to establishing Lane Alton & Horst as both a trial practice and business law firm in the minds of the central Ohio business community.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

Having had the benefit of being a partner in both much larger and much smaller law firms than Lane Alton & Horst, I have been exposed to the advantages and disadvantages of both. Lane Alton, as a mid-sized firm, has the best of both worlds by being big enough to have the capability to handle complex legal issues, while being small enough to efficiently and quickly respond to those issues without the high overhead cost associated with maintaining multiple offices in multiple cities. Recognizing that certain of its client either have or will have a need for representation beyond central Ohio, the Firm has joined Primerus, an international society of law firms with over 180 law firms and 2800 lawyers in over 40 countries throughout the world — a “virtual multi-national law firm.” Through this affiliation, the Firm can provide its clients with top quality work product at a reasonable cost at the regional, national and international levels, while maintaining a consistently high level of client service by providing these services through one local point of contact that is already well-known to the client.

The Firm’s size has an additional benefit in that it can take innovative approaches to collaborating with its clients. One example is the Firm’s Restaurant and Hospitality Industry Practice group that provides full service representation of restaurants and similar businesses. As a result of that particular expertise, the Firm developed a relationship with the Central Ohio Restaurant Association (CORA) as its general counsel. CORA maintains its offices within the Firm’s office space. This allows CORA to have direct access to the Firm’s attorneys with expertise in its industry while at the same time keeping the Firm’s attorneys abreast of the most current issues in the industry — a win-win for both CORA and its members, as well  the Firm and its restaurant and hospitality industry clients.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

I believe that one way that business people can have a significant impact on our community is through community service. Community service supports all of the walks of life and community institutions in central Ohio, thus making our community a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Throughout my legal career, my mentors have stressed that the practice of law is a privilege and that community service is part of how we pay back the community for that privilege. As such, I have served as a member and chair of the board of the Capital Area Humane Society (and continue to do pro bono legal work for the Society), I am a graduate of Leadership Columbus, and I am a Fellow of the Ohio State Bar Foundation. I have also served on the City of Upper Arlington Charter Review Commission. More recently, I helped to found, and currently serve as the board chair of, Ohio Motorcyclists for Children, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization whose mission is to support Nationwide Children’s Hospital. One of my pet projects for Ohio Motorcyclists for Children is to donate the food and cook breakfast on the third Saturday of every month for anyone staying at the Ronald McDonald House adjacent to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Lane Alton & Horst is equally committed to serving the entire central Ohio community and its institutions. As such, the Firm’s lawyers are encouraged to give back to the community. For example, four of the Firm’s lawyers have served as President of the Columbus Bar Association. Currently, one of our lawyers is the president of the Women Lawyers of Franklin County; another is on Westerville’s City Council, while another serves on the Tri-Creek District of the Simon Kenton Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Tim Owens is a partner and the chair of the Employment & Labor Law Practice Group at Lane, Alton & Horst