Gravis Law expands into rural powerhouse

Gravis Law PLLC, a Richland-based firm with 48 attorneys in multiple offices, is positioning itself as a national brand bringing legal services to underserved rural communities.

In January, it completed a transaction to bring the legal team from a Kennewick firm, Hames, Anderson, Whitlow and O’Leary, into the business.

The move gives Gravis an office in downtown Kennewick, 601 W. Kennewick Ave. A limited liability corporation held by Brett Spooner, founder and CEO of Gravis, bought the building for about $770,000.

It is the second Tri-City location for Gravis and the 17th overall. It has offices in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Michigan and Florida.

The Kennewick expansion brought bankruptcy attorneys Bill Hames and John O’Leary to Gravis along with Tim Anderson, a litigator.

Randi Johnson, principal and chief communications officer, said the move helps position Gravis as a national firm for two of its federal practice areas – bankruptcy and social security disability.

She brought her social security disability practice to Gravis about a year ago as well.

The firm’s legal offerings also include business, estate planning and probate, family law, personal injury, tax law and more. Its growing size and expertise mean clients for one service have better access to others within the same organization.

If a client fighting for social security disability benefits needs to file for bankruptcy, Gravis can handle it.

“Now I don’t have to send them somewhere else. I can just say, ‘Talk to my guy John O’Leary,’ ” Johnson said. “We can be their team.”

The move is part of Gravis’ larger effort to uncomplicate the law and bring services to rural markets.

Despite the jokes about a lawyer glut, rural areas struggle with lack of access. The problem is exacerbated by declining law school enrollment and retirements. Small- and mid-sized law offices that did not recruit a new generation to take over simply close.

“It’s a weird thing to say there is a shortage of lawyers,” Johnson said. “In many midsized and rural areas, those small- to midsize firms are all those communities had. You have whole areas and communities without access to legal services.

“What we’re aiming to do, our vision is, how can we meet those folks where they are in the most efficient, least complicated way possible.”

While Gravis operates offices in a diverse group of states, it embraces technology to expand its reach.

“The traditional experience for someone who goes to interact with a law firm is they make an appointment and go have a conversation in a conference room. There’s lots of face to face,” Johnson said.

“This has made us more accessible to someone who might be two to four hours from their nearest city or courthouse. They can turn on their computer and get a doc to review and e-sign.”

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