Astley-Putnam: Willing to Be the ‘Thought Leader’ 2/16/18 02/19/18 11:11:20 AM
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Kate Putnam and Adam Astley have opened a new law firm, with offices in a beautifully renovated space just a block from the Old Market. Steep stairs lead to the offices. Astley joked that those over 40 complained about the stairs and those under 40 commented on the beauty of the office.
Willing to Be the ‘Thought Leader’
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
Sometimes you just want to try things in a new way, so about seven months ago, Adam Astley and Kate Putnam struck out on their own, leaving one law firm where they worked together to start their own operation at Astley Putnam, P.C., L.L.O.
It began in July at their offices just west of the Old Market on Howard Street. Their practice focuses on family law with a special emphasis on how they handle divorce cases – “Divorce, Differently,” as their website states. Just talking to them for a profile, one gets the feeling of comfortable, caring professionalism.
Kate Putnam is an Omaha native who attended Westside and graduated from law school at Pepperdine. She likes to travel, when time allows, and is a member of the American Inns of Court – the multi-generational group that promotes ethics and manners in the practice of law. She is the current vice chair of the Family Law Section of the NSBA. She is also a member of the Master Singers, a cappella jazz group of which she is the treasurer.
Adam Astley traveled the world as his father served in the U.S. Air Force – along the way living in the Azores, England and Pittsburgh, before graduating from Bellevue East High School. Astley then earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Creighton.
Asked about his hobbies, he said he enjoys computer programming and golf. The former is an area of expertise that comes in handy at the office where he can integrate new technologies and programs that add to the firm’s unique approach to their practice. The prospects of the latter appear bleak, as he politely declined to release his handicap for the interview.
He also is a member of the Omaha Bar Association and the Nebraska State Bar Association as well as a past chair of the Family Law Section for the NSBA, where he currently serves on the Executive Committee.
With all the specialty areas of law on which a firm can focus, why family law?
“I think we’re both drawn to it for different reasons,” Astley added. “For me, I enjoy solving people’s problems.”
He described divorce as “controlled chaos,” then dropped another analogy. “It’s the flight attendant trying to serve drinks while the pilot is trying to stop the plane from crashing into the mountain.”
Astley and Putnam go to great lengths to avoid that crash. They also have some serious expertise.
Putnam pointed out that “Adam wrote the Nebraska Child Support Calculator that is the standard in Nebraska for lawyers and Courts.” He also wrote variations for use in Iowa and Kansas.
Still, it’s an area of law that many attorneys seek to avoid.
“I enjoy the personal interaction with people and helping them work through those difficult periods of time,” Putnam said. “If you can help them get through their divorce without much collateral damage, that is a good day.”
She elaborated, “No two divorces are the same … it keeps me on my toes. If you like hearing people’s stories, understanding their lives, this is a really meaningful job to do.”
Astley added: “I think our clients are most comfortable when the amount of uncertainty in their lives is minimized.”
Their firm tries to provide realistic advice, Putnam stressed, including some idea of the range of possibilities that may happen during the case.
“That’s the first thing I always want to do,” she said. “Manage expectations.”
The duo always looks to reach a settlement and keep their cases out of court if it can be avoided, and if it is in their client’s best interest – which it usually is.
Astley and Putnam formed the new shop because they believed they had some ideas about how attorneys could better handle divorce cases.
“We’re willing to be the thought leaders,” Astley said. That includes some ideas on how to provide clients with a better value. This move gave us the freedom to try some of those ideas.”
Those ideas include allowing the firm to provide clients with the elements of service at which they are best.
“We feel we’re very good at providing clients with advice that is meaningful to them and specific to their case. We do not take a cookie-cutter approach,” Putnam said.
They also want their clients to feel that the legal services they received were valuable and necessary. Their clients see bills for legal analyses and court appearances, but “not busy work.” That is left to the technology.
To date the firms consists of the two of them, a full-time assistant and part-time administrative support. When looking at future growth, they hope to find someone they can take from law clerk to full-time associate under their guidance. That way the person can learn how they do things.
“We’re just trying to let these things happen organically,” Putnam explained.
Astley added: “Aggressive growth for its own sake usually doesn’t turn out well.”
Given the high-stress level of family law, a good fit is essential. “You have to find people you can get along with and enjoy spending your time with,” Putnam said.
Right now, they fit extremely well into their new firm.