Attorney at Law Magazine Baltimore — Vol 1 No 5
Attorney of the Month
William H. Thrush Jr.
A Sustainable Practice
A legal career wasn’t always in the plan for William H. “Bill” Thrush Jr. A spontaneous career choice, however, led to his thriving practice as managing partner of Weinstock, Friedman & Friedman where he helps lead the charge toward the vision of the “future” law firm.
A Chance Decision
As a young undergraduate student, Thrush found himself disconnected from his engineering studies. Something was not falling into place. He turned to an academic counselor for guidance before he traveled too far into his studies. This chance meeting led him toward the best decision he could have made.
“My adviser asked, ‘Well what did you want to be when you were a kid?’” Thrush recalls.
It was instinctual. He had always wanted to be a lawyer. He had watched his father dedicate his life to the law as a police officer and been surrounded by law enforcement since a young age. The police force was never the right fit for him, but he felt drawn to that world. He had pictured himself fitting into that world as a legal practitioner instead. “My adviser told me to go with that instinct,” Thrush says. “I changed my major and haven’t looked back since.”
After law school, Thrush returned to the University of Maryland College Park to teach trial advocacy and family law at an undergraduate level.
Shortly thereafter, Thrush began his private practice, but he never lost his desire to teach. His dedication shown through and he was named an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. For almost a decade, he taught budding lawyers, molding them into trial lawyers, mediators, judges and professionals working in the field today.
However, the desire to develop his private practice pulled him away from teaching and toward expanding his litigation practice. He stepped down from his position with the university and turned his sights on becoming a top-notch trial attorney.
“Teaching gave me some invaluable skills,” he says. “My decision to leave was bittersweet.”
A Gradual Process
According to him, upon graduating law school, he was lucky to be able to find a position with a small firm in Bowie, Maryland where he stepped into a vacated family law practice. From there, he expanded his practice to personal injury, workers’ compensation and civil litigation at a firm in Baltimore City. He then achieved partnership and a broader civil litigation practice with a small firm before he joined Weinstock as an associate in 2003.
“It was a gradual process,” Thrush says. “I always wanted to be a trial attorney.”
Today, his practice focuses on banking and commercial finance, commercial loan workouts, creditor’s rights and corporate general counsel portfolio management. He draws on his experiences from law school and his previous practices to maintain a healthy list of clients and oversee a growing roster of attorneys.
Weinstock was originally founded by Louis Sagner in the 1920s and started out as a boutique collections firm. Over the last century, the firm has undergone many evolutions. Today, it is a general practice firm headed by Thrush.
According to Thrush, the firm’s affiliation with LegalShield is the main reason he joined and decided to continue his career in private practice.
“I was contemplating making a change,” he says. “I was disenchanted with the practice of chasing the billable hour. When I came across Weinstock and its affiliation with LegalShield, however, I felt a real connection to the firm and its vision to truly help the client.”
The firm was named a provider law firm for LegalShield (then known as Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc.) in 1988. That affiliation was one of the driving forces behind the firm’s growth and success.
Becoming a Leader
When Thrush was brought on in 2003, he was eager to find his footing as a litigator. Now, having made his way up through the ranks to managing partner, his goals have shifted significantly.
As a managing partner, Thrush oversees all operations of the firm, including three main groups: LegalShield, commercial banking and lending, and commercial and retail collections. Each group has a manager that reports back to Thrush and oversees its daily success.
“The firm is fun and collegial,” he says. “We work together to help each other help others. I shape our firm around the saying, ‘Be nice and be helpful because if you are both, everything else will work itself out.’”
To emphasize his mantra, the firm is actively partaking in local, annual initiatives. One of these unique projects leads to the attorneys and staff members huddled together during their lunch hour over crochet needles and knitting patterns, to make hats and scarves. At Christmas, the completed hats and scarves are donated to local shelters.
“Nearly 200 hats and scarves are made for donation each year,” Thrush says. “In addition, we host food drives and my favorite, Toys for Tots.”
Looking to the future, Thrush hopes to maintain a practice that leaves his clients happy and satisfied with their work. He also wants to build a firm culture that leaves his staff excited to come back to work the next day.
He plans to utilize technology to help create a more successful and efficient firm. He wants to harness these tools to provide better services to clients and more flexibility for the firm’s attorneys. He hopes this will help the attorneys achieve more balanced lives.
“I definitely don’t want the staff to feel like they’re ‘married to the office,’” Thrush says.
Beyond his immediate plans, his overall goal is to build a sustainable firm for future generations. When he passes the torch to his successor, he wants to leave the firm better than he found it.
“I always tell myself and our attorneys not to forget why,” Thrush says. “You can never lose sight of why you decided to become a lawyer. It’s difficult sometimes. There is always the business side of the practice, pulling you away from your true purpose. Despite all the harsh realities and the distractions, you can still help.”