You Can Go Home Again!

By William G. Schwab

Jenny and Steve Serfass with their son, Ben.

When planning your career, don't overlook the obvious in picking a location to begin your practice. The Serfass family is a good example of ths advice. Steve Serfass was raised in a small town in rural Pennsylvania of about 5,000 people. His wife, Jenny, grew up in the prairies of Kansas. Both had professional parents who sent their bright children into the big city for their educations. Somehow they both wound up at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia. Love blossomed and they got married.

After three years of law school, it was time to decide their futures. Would they stay in the hustle-and-bustle of a large metropolitan area and make their mark, or would they choose something else?

Small-town America seemed the way to go. Steve went to work with an 88-year-old lawyer. Jenny found employment with another small firm in Steve’s home county. Jenny remarked that she had never seen ice storms, and the “mountains” were treacherous with ice on them. It wasn’t like the snowstorms at home.
Since those early, tentative days, the elder lawyer died, and Steve “inherited” his practice. Jenny worked for several firms, expanding her legal horizons, before finally coming to practice with her husband, Steve.

Stephen Serfass and Jenny Cheng-Serfass of Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, have together built one of the largest general practices in the county in a short time. Although they didn’t have a formal, written career plan, it is clear they had one in their heads. Steve became active in politics, while Jenny became active with the state bar association’s young lawyers division. Both became active in separate civic groups. They knew that to be seen in the community was as important as what they did in court. People began to recognize their names.

Soon it seemed the local newspaper was a public relations vehicle for the two. Always friendly, always low key, they showed respect for older lawyers and constantly asked them for advice. This in turn resulted in new business opportunities for them, as other lawyers called on them to take over cases they didn’t want or couldn’t handle.

Now, six years after he was admitted to practice, Steve is the county solicitor and also represents one of the largest school districts in the county, along with a large financial institution. The road ahead looks bright.

They have even begun training their replacement. Their two-year-old son, Ben, regularly comes into their office.

Moral of the Story: You can be successful anywhere. Don’t forget to look at home as a potential place to launch your career.

—William G. Schwab, GPSolo New Lawyer Editor

To contact Steve Serfass or Jenny Cheng e-mail or
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