Article By: Barbara Marchini, ACCION San Diego Volunteer
Lucy Ludwig works as an attorney out of her 1940's two-bedroom, ocher-colored stucco house in Normal Heights. Armed with a J.D. from California Western School of Law, a L.L.M. from the University of San Diego, and a bilingual skill-set, she opened the doors of Ludwig Law Firm in June 2009. Although it is a full-service law firm, Ludwig specializes in assisting clients with IRS and California Franchise Tax Board problems and filing for bankruptcy.
Ludwig began her law career in 2006 as a public defender. After two months of back-to-back court cases and working menacingly long hours, Ludwig realized that she had not chosen the right path for herself. "I need to have a relationship with my client," Ludwig says. With nine court trials lined up in just her first month as a public defender, that task proved impossible.
Thus, after only two months with the Public Defender's Office, Ludwig decided to change her career course. She accepted a position with a tax firm in San Diego. During her employment there the company went under, and she realized that the time was ripe for her to start her own business.
Determined and eager for a fresh start, Ludwig set out to advertise her new firm by systematically visiting tax preparation companies to inform the owners that she was open for business. One of the companies Lucy visited was McDaniel Tax & Administrative Services, a current ACCION San Diego client, and the company shared loan program information with her.
Ludwig applied for a loan from ACCION in May 2009 and received $3,000 in "a quick couple of weeks," she says. With the loan, she bought the software to build a business website and hired a marketing coach. She believes both have played a pivotal role in strengthening her business from the start.
Above all, it was ACCION's community-based method that gave her the support she needed as a new business owner. "ACCION is small and has ties to the community," Ludwig explains.
For the time being, Ludwig does all of the work herself. Her long-term goals are to expand her business, hire employees, and open an office outside of her home.
It is Ludwig's dedication and commitment to her clients that keeps her business strong. At the end of her tenure with her last employer, Ludwig sent out letters to all the company's former clients who were suddenly left with no representation, in part because she felt the responsibility of serving the clients who, in her opinion, were left high and dry. In her letter she explained the company's reason for closure and stated that she would like to continue a working relationship under her new firm. Three-quarters of her former employer's clients have joined forces with her in the past year.
"Clients are scared of their situation [with their tax problems and the IRS], so they need someone to take control," Ludwig says. "I need to have patience and be a counselor." Above all, Ludwig not only educates her clients on their options and helps them find workable solutions, but builds a personal relationship and ensures they that they never have to face the IRS alone.
Looking for finacing for your small business? Check out ACCION San Diego's micro-loan program at: www.accionsandiego.org/loan_information.html.