Norton Basu, LLP: Founding and Growing a Firm by Doing Things Differently

After navigating the corporate and large law firm environments, Zakiya J. Norton and Somita Basu made a life-altering decision: opening their own law practice. Armed with an innate instinct for both law and business, this turned out to be just the right choice. Staying true to their vision and their purpose, they now find themselves working with the clients they’re inspired to help, taking on matters which best suit their talents, and attaining the elusive work-life balance that everyone is striving to achieve. 

It hasn’t always been easy, but surmounting obstacles is nothing new to Zakiya and Somita. As a minority woman-owned estate planning and probate law firm, Norton Basu, LLP is a unique practice in a landscape which is typically dominated by white male attorneys. 

Norton Basu, LLP is an estate planning and probate law firm with offices in Los Gatos, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles, California. With plans to expand into additional locations and areas of law, Ms. Norton and Ms. Basu are rising stars in the California legal landscape.

How They Met: A Chance Meeting Sparked a Synergistic Alliance

In 2013, Zakiya and Somita each began volunteering with Bay Area Legal Aid in San Jose, California, a local non-profit organization. After being assigned to the same practice division, they collaborated on multiple complex cases, and a clear synergy emerged, which was strengthened by their common sense of humor. The formation of this potent and natural partnership inspired them to embrace risk and open the doors of their own practice only three months later. Fortuitously, their strengths were complementary since Somita’s background is in insurance and finance, while Zakiya has legal drafting and litigation expertise.

Currently in its ninth year, Norton Basu, LLP is growing. With the addition of an associate attorney, as well as a full-time Director of Marketing and Business Development, Zakiya and Somita demonstrate a focused determination to excel in law and business, as well as to contribute to the local community by offering way of educational workshops, mentorship of law students, pro bono work, and volunteer efforts on the boards of local non-profits.

Finding Their Way: Drive, Determination, and Doing Things Differently

Once the decision was made to open the doors of Norton Basu LLP, a clear path came into focus: doing things differently than most law firms. Zakiya and Somita had the insight to view their firm from the client’s perspective and resolved to stand out by offering a refreshing approach. After assessing the three most frequently heard complaints about working with an attorney, they crafted methods designed to deliver an exceptional user experience.

The Top 3 Common Client Complaints and How They Became Client Compliments

  1. My lawyer never returns my calls. A law firm that provides proactive communication is rare. As simple as it may sound, the act of committing to consistent and timely updates, often before the client has even inquired, is a radical act. This small but meaningful effort speaks volumes because while a busy lawyer has several matters on their mind, a client is solely focused on one only. Eliminating the fear and worry that can creep in a while waiting endlessly for a status report skyrockets client satisfaction. 
  2. My lawyer charges for answering questions. By establishing a flat fee structure for advice and counsel related to setting up comprehensive estate plans, Norton Basu encourages clients to thoroughly understand their plan and how it would function in the event of disability or death. 
  3. My lawyer talks over my head. Many people are intimidated and put off by attorneys who use technical jargon and legal terms with which they are not familiar. Making complex legal concepts palatable and digestible to the layperson is an art, one which Zakiya and Somita have mastered. This does not go unnoticed by clients who feel informed, empowered, and properly educated by the straightforward and down-to-earth style they encounter at Norton Basu.

Doing It the Right Way for the Right Reasons

Maintaining the discipline to honor the core principles on which Norton Basu, LLP was founded has led to success. This, along with Zakiya and Somita’s superb aptitude for estate planning and probate law, continues to attract a loyal clientele.

Also read:Women and Minorities in Law: The Boutique Law Firm That Could

It isn’t a secret that the field of law is primarily populated by white men. There are numerous studies and reports that confirm this,...

Top 3 Winning Principles For Law Firm Owners

  1. A law firm is a business: Proper analysis and management of finances are crucial.
  2. Not all money is good money: Working with clients who support the firm’s mission and value legal expertise attracts additional ideal clients and reinforces the brand. 
  3. Incorporate technology: Clients are embracing technological advances, and so should their law firm, too.

Foresight, Fortitude, and Fortune

By practicing perseverance and having the foresight to know that using current technology and traditional business principles would be a sure-fire formula – Norton Basu, LLP is an outlier in the California legal community.

Article by Zakiya J. Norton and Somita Basu

Zakiya J. Norton is a big-picture thinker who practices with precision, sharp insight and a touch of humor. Zakiya delivers innovative, top-notch advice in terms everyone can understand. Known for her ability to grasp the family history and personal intentions which inform each estate plan, she offers compassionate counsel and no-nonsense legal strategies in her affable, straightforward speaking style.

Somita Basu has a knack for unraveling legal, financial, and mathematical mysteries while paying meticulous attention to detail. Always analytical and objective, her tactical methods allow her to identify the optimal way to achieve any goal. With a thorough, hands-on approach, Somita expertly advises on complex matters with diligence and grace.

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