Erin Dickinson decided to take a chance when she and three other attorneys at large law firms started their own firm.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own firm and had the desire to do something entrepreneurial and create a brand and way of doing things,” said Dickinson, a founding partner at Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger LLC, Milwaukee. “Milwaukee didn’t really have a ton of small firms doing complex litigation work. We filled a unique niche.”
The firm’s leaders, Dickinson said, try to offer clients the best of both large and small operations.
“We’ve enjoyed a lot of success in the past 3 ½ years, which I think shows our vision of creating our own firm was right on,” she said. “We like to say we have a small firm with big firm talent.”
Since starting the business, Dickinson said, she has had to juggle her busy practice, which focuses on complex business litigation, with the duties related to owning a law firm.
“Suddenly, you find yourself doing things like picking out a logo or working with someone on a website,” she said. “It’s fun doing things you’ve never done before.”
Tim Hansen, who worked with Dickinson at Michael Best & Friedrich before joining her in founding Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger, said she has found a way to balance her success in litigation, which tends to be dominated by men, with her success turning her dream into reality.
“She quit the big firm at the top of her game to found a law firm based on a different model,” he said. “She sought to share risk with clients, better align the interests of lawyer and client, and take the leading edge in Milwaukee doing something unprecedented.
“Erin dominates as a lawyer, litigator and entrepreneur.”
A mother to three girls, Dickinson calls the firm her fourth child and said taking on a new venture while also caring for small children at home was not as scary as it may sound.
“As a mother, I think you always worry about being available for your children,” she said, “but actually, with owning a firm, you have more control over your schedule.”
Still, she has late nights and weekends at the office, but Dickinson said that with her name on the door, “it doesn’t seem so bothersome. It’s less like a burden and more like a choice when you stay late.”