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How Jeffrey Hughes Built A Successful Coffee Shop Law Practice With Legal Grind

published March 11, 2023

( 371 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)

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Jeffrey Hughes is the owner of Legal Grind, an innovative law firm in California. He has over 30 years of experience in the legal industry and provides the highest quality of service to his clients. He is an expert in litigation, corporate law and business transactions.

Legal Grind was founded on the belief that legal services should be more accessible and affordable for businesses and individuals in California. The law firm works hard to provide that goal by offering legal advice and counsel in a casual environment, rather than the traditional law office setting. The firm is focused on a variety of legal matters including entity formation, litigation, corporate and commercial transactions, contract negotiation, tax law, and estate planning.

Hughes has an impressive client base, ranging from start-up entrepreneurs to established businesses. He also regularly works with investors, lenders, and other legal professionals as they guide their clients through the legal process. Hughes is also committed to providing top-notch customer service to ensure that every client receives the level of expertise they deserve.

Jeffrey Hughes has dedicated his career to making legal services more accessible and affordable. His law firm, Legal Grind, is highly respected in the California legal community and provides top-notch legal advice and counsel for businesses and individuals. Hughes has a wide range of clients and is constantly striving to make the legal process easier for his clients. He is an expert in various areas of law, from entity formation and litigation to contracts and tax law. By providing cutting-edge legal services in a more relaxed setting, Hughes has revolutionized the traditional approach to legal representation.

Advancing Coffee & Conversation Since 2003

In 2003, Jeffrey Hughes had an idea for advancing coffee and conversation for individuals who needed legal help, but didn't have the resources. He opened the first Legal Grind located on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California and transformed it into the only walk-in legal service café in the nation.

Early Career as a Lawyer & Professor

Prior to his role as the owner of Legal Grind, Hughes was an established attorney and professor of law. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law and practiced law in the areas of business litigation, family law and estate planning. Hughes also served as the adjunct professor of Business Law at Antioch University, Los Angeles.

Legal Grind

Legal Grind's goal is to make legal advice accessible and affordable to everyone. Individuals can visit the Legal Grind café to receive free consultations with attorneys who are available to assist with specific legal needs. By offering affordable rates, high-quality legal advice, and an inviting environment, Legal Grind is able to bridge the gap between law and justice.

Jeffrey Hughes Involvement

Hughes is the personification of Legal Grind's mission. He works directly with individuals who have legal needs, including those who are seeking advice on divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, small business formation, civil rights issues, and more. In addition, he also serves as the face of Legal Grind, interacting with the press and leading public speaking engagements to promote the importance of legal access.

Commitment to the Legal Field

Since the opening of Legal Grind, Hughes has devoted his career to helping those who may not have access to excellent legal representation. His commitment to the legal field and dedication to the Legal Grind mission has been a groundbreaking tool for advancing coffee, conversation, and justice.

Jeffrey Hughes makes a mean cappuccino with a strong side of legal advice - on everything from divorces to immigration.

Actually he calls the coffee drink a ''cop'accino'' and also serves ''L.A. Law'ttes at Legal Grind, the innovative café he started in Santa Monica in 1996 to provide legal services to the community.

Hughes now owns two Legal Grinds in Los Angeles and is looking to franchise the concept, possibly across the country. He opened the second Legal Grind in Inglewood last year.

The 38-year-old lawyer and entrepreneur grew up working in the restaurant business and always dreamed of running his own café. He also dreamed of going to graduate school and, after graduating from UCLA in 1988 with a degree in mass communications and business, he decided to attend law school at Loyola in Los Angeles.

Hughes is passionate about disproving the stereotypes about lawyers being greedy and ruthless.

''I set out to make law more accessible to the middle class, at least in my neighborhood,'' he told LawCrossing. ''And…to change the perceptions people have of lawyers.''

Hughes targeted the middle class and working poor after a legal needs study from the American Bar Association said those groups were not given adequate access to the law.

The poor have Legal Aid and the wealthy have all the lawyers they want, he says. Legal Grind was the 2001 recipient for the American Bar Association's Louis M. Brown Award for legal access.

''Lawyers at that time didn't have such a good name,'' he said. ''I don't know if they do now. I wanted to be proud of my job and of what I was doing.''

Hughes is a modern day Renaissance man. Aside from his cafés, he still litigates, is renovating a building and he has even dabbled in creative writing for television.

Hughes runs Legal Grind with his wife Annie. Their 9-month-old son is often seen in the back of the Santa Monica café.

Hughes ''strongly encourages'' anyone interested in opening a Legal Grind to contact him. But he admits that franchising the law could have pitfalls.

''Franchising the law is tricky,'' he said. ''It's not like hamburgers or hotdogs. We have to be careful about quality control. People's perceptions of lawyers are subjective. Our success has been because of the strong community support, so a franchise would also have to get the community involved, with different legal experts from the community.

''If we franchise, I want to make sure they're successful,'' he says. ''For one, I don't want to be sued and I don't want to screw up their lives.

''It's a matter of timing and we've spent eight years perfecting the concept,'' he says. ''We're also expanding on the Internet, which is a bit easier.''

He thinks the concept will have national appeal.

''With Legal Grind, people can identify with the brand,'' he said. ''With the working poor and the middle class, that's how people feel about the legal system - it's a legal grind.''

Hughes says he created his own niche out of passion, but also out of necessity.

''Coming out of law school in 92, there was a recession. There were very few jobs available. In 1989, about 80 percent of the class had jobs. When I graduated, only 20 percent of the class had jobs. And the big firms wanted attorneys with several years experience at firms.

''I considered the District Attorney's office and family support law, but even those jobs were scarce,'' he said.

''I knew there were many things I could do with a law degree,'' he said. ''What I did, I created my own profession.''

Over a dozen lawyers work out of Legal Grind on various days, generally between 3 and 6 p.m. For example, on the first and third Monday of every month, attorney Michael Goldstein offers a $25 ''Coffee and Counsel'' session on employment rights, worker's compensation, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, personal injury and civil/business disputes between 5 and 6 p.m. Another lawyer simultaneously offers advice on landlord/tenant disputes, auto accidents, restraining orders and small claims.

During the day, before the various experts come in, people can use the document preparation service, pop in to get something notarized or drink coffee while browsing the self-help books on the shelves, including ''Your Divorce Advisor.''

''When I opened in 1996, we did a brisk coffee business, until Starbucks opened a drive thru next door,'' Hughes says. ''That was a blessing in disguise. When demand was diminished, it allowed us to focus more on the legal services and to start providing more.''

Hughes also prides himself on Legal Grind's coffee.

''We don't want to serve bad espresso, because then people will think we'll screw up their divorce,'' he said.

Hughes offers advice to people during the day, but says his success relies on the experts who practice out of Legal Grind.

Legal Grind takes a percentage for the attorney referral service, but Hughes did not want to be specific about how much.

''I don't try to do medical malpractice or immigration,'' Hughes said. ''That's one of the reasons we have such a good reputation in the community, because we provide experts.''

He says franchises would also need to rely on the community experts to be successful.

''I suppose if one lawyer were to run a Legal Grind, he or she might be able to make as much as people in a firm,'' he said. ''But that's taxing on a person's personal life. And the lawyer would have to be expert in many areas.''

''And not many lawyers have the patience to talk to 50 people for 15 minutes each,'' he said.

Hughes says lawyers who want to become entrepreneurs or start their own practices should read a lot of business books and ''do something that merges your passions and your interests.''

''To be an entrepreneur, well to be successful in business, you have to wear several hats,'' he says. ''In the book, The ''E'' Myth, it says you have to be a manager, an entrepreneur and a craftsman. Typically, most people don't wear all three hats.''

He says he knows many lawyers that have tried and failed in business.

''In Dallas, a guy from a big firm has been successful with his restaurant - I consider it an infringement. It's called Legal Grounds. I've got a legal trademark with the federal government for Legal Grind.''

When asked if he intended legal action, Hughes said: ''Not right now. But that could change if we move into Dallas.''

Hughes says his secret to happiness is only pursuing cases that interest him.
''I still do some construction defect litigation. My brother is a contractor and I'm renovating a building right now with an architect. It's interesting to me. It's fulfilling for me to practice,'' he said. ''We have helped thousands of people that have come to Legal Grind for direction. I like the fact that I have created something that has made my community a better place.''