GetLegal.com, a Euless-based online provider of legal information, products and services for legal professionals and consumers, recently expanded its outreach to the underserved Hispanic market across the United States.
The company’s pioneering CEO, Phillip Galyen, a founding partner in the law firm of Bailey & Galyen, launched his first successful online venture with TheAttorneyStore.com in 1999. That virtual marketplace grew and evolved into GetLegal.com and its sister site, FuenteLegal.com, the latter providing legal information to the booming Hispanic market.
To better serve the Hispanic community, FuenteLegal.com in June 2014 added Philip D. Vasquez, a recognized partner with Vasquez Grimley PLLC, as senior vice president. In this role, Vasquez directs all operations of company that is a top source for legal information for the U.S. Hispanic market.
“We are delighted that Philip Vasquez has joined our team,” said Jeffrey Rattikin, GetLegal.com’s president/co-owner and real estate attorney. “Mr. Vasquez brings a vast understanding of the Hispanic market for legal services, from the perspective of consumers as well as legal professionals. We are confident that, under his leadership, we will successfully accomplish our goal of becoming the premier provider of online legal information to the national Latino and Hispanic communities.”
A native of Victoria, Texas, Vasquez received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas and worked for six years in the energy industry, until the market crashed in the mid-‘80s.
“I had always had an interest in the law. Since I was facing unemployment, I decided that it was a good time to go to law school,” he said.
He graduated in 1987 from the University of Houston Law Center and returned to his hometown to open his own practice. After 10 years he went back to the law center and earned a master’s degree in international economic law.
With extensive experience in energy law, Vasquez was appointed by President Bill Clinton as senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Defense on the oil- and gas-producing countries of Latin America, and he served as deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Energy from 1998 to 2001. Vasquez also served as oil and gas legal adviser to the Ministry of Mines of Afghanistan and as an international oil and gas legal consultant in Iraq.
What attracted you to energy law and international law?
I majored in petroleum land management at UT since, in the late ‘70s, it was the hottest degree going. Everybody was getting a job and the pay was higher than graduating MBAs. As soon as I started working in the oil business, I became interested in doing international oil and gas work.
What is your most significant professional achievement?
During my years of practice, I had a core belief in professional development as a lawyer and a duty to assist my fellow lawyers to maintain the highest level of continuing legal education and ethics. I also felt duty-bound to assist the Hispanic community. A ‘justice gap’ had developed and exists today, due to the growing Hispanic community and low number of Hispanic lawyers. I eventually became president of three bar associations, including the Victoria County Bar and the largest Hispanic state bar in the country, the Texas Mexican American Bar Association.
What motivates you?
That the quest for justice is never ending.
Describe your leadership style.
I firmly believe in leading by example. I know that if I want to effectuate change, I need to take charge and ensure that failure is not an option and work toward that end.
Discuss some challenges U.S. corporations and law firms face for conducting international business and some suggestions to solve them.
U.S. corporations and law firms have the greatest opportunities in international business than ever before yet the greatest challenges than ever before. The potential market is huge in countries with tremendous populations such as in India and China. One of the greatest challenges is understanding the culture, religion, customs, language and morals of the target market. A successful marketing campaign may be popular and humorous in the U.S. but the same, literally translated, may be perceived to be insulting or confusing [in another country].
What major challenges do young attorneys face, particularly young Hispanic attorneys?
The greatest challenge facing all young attorneys is the amount of college debt accrued by most of these young people during their studies. According to the American Bar Association, the average debt taken on by law school graduates is $84,000 if they attended public schools and $122,158 if they attended private schools.
Recently, there has been a flood of law graduates, creating fewer job opportunities and lower wages. Only 51 percent of graduates find jobs with law firms and overall, only 84.5 percent of law graduates were even able to find a job at all, including the many who give up looking and start their own practice.
Hispanic lawyers are in unique positions, although it is more difficult for them to find work. The prospects for being successful in their individual practices are slightly greater with the growing Hispanic market. Also, eventually law firms will begin hiring more Hispanic lawyers as the market continues to grow.
How can law firms recruit and retain more Hispanic attorneys?
Law firms can focus on recruiting from law schools with large Hispanic enrollment. Don’t concentrate just on grades when recruiting, as many students have to work during law school.
Should law firms single out the Hispanic community to direct their marketing efforts?
That makes a lot of sense. Of course, most everyone knows that the Hispanic community is this country’s biggest minority group and one of its fastest growing. Since it is growing at an exponential rate compared to other ethnic groups, it stands to be a marketing target that could pay exponential dividends.
Today, there are 127 lawyers for every person in the country. In 2014, there were 1,281,432 licensed lawyers in the U.S., broken down as 88.1 percent white, 4.8 percent black and 3.7 percent Hispanic. Although there has been a slight gain in Hispanics in law school, Mexican-American law students declined from 1993 to 2008. Since the Hispanic population increased over 48 percent since 2000, the Hispanic population has outpaced the number of Hispanic lawyers. This creates a scenario where the astute law firm should consider very seriously marketing to this vastly underserved market.
Despite the fact that much of the U.S. Hispanic population is native born, it is still wise to advertise with Spanish content. Fifty-seven percent of first-generation Hispanics prefer to read content in Spanish. And even though, as in most immigrant groups in the U.S., by the third generation, most Hispanics prefer to speak English, Spanish still persists.
According to the Pew Hispanic survey, 87 percent of Hispanic adults believe it is important for generations of Hispanics in the U.S. to be able to speak Spanish. Therefore, a Spanish language campaign is required. One must be careful to recognize the demographic differences within the Hispanic population and to tailor their Spanish language campaign to one that resonates with that particular community.
It is the forward-thinking law firm who has its sights set on growth who will benefit from a very well-planned and crafted Hispanic marketing campaign.
I enjoy exercising and working on my wife’s family ranch in Hico.
All checked off.
Most people don’t know …
I ran and completed 20 full 26.6-mile marathons in 10 years.