On October 17th, 2022, our Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis (“KMO”) will celebrate its 41st anniversary since opening its doors. In looking back at our lengthy journey, it is humbling to see just how far we have come.

It All Started with an
Unexpected Trip to California

When I finished law school in 1978, the only jobs I found were as a litigator.  I thought I was going to be that great courtroom lawyer on TV, Perry Mason, but I quickly realized that fighting in public before a judge wasn’t a fit for me.  So, I decided to go back to school to get a Master’s Degree in Tax Law from the University of Miami, in sunny Florida. My year there was the first time I had experienced living outside of the Northeast and I found I didn't miss the winter at all! When I graduated, I returned to my hometown of Vineland, a small farm town in the southern part of New Jersey (yes, New Jersey does have farmland, which is why its nickname is "The Garden State"!). Unfortunately, I had graduated into a recession and the job offers I was receiving were for less money than I had made working in a glass factory before I even went to law school! I knew there was something better available, but I just wasn't sure what that was.

Here is where the story gets interesting.  As fate often works, I was stuck in New Jersey with no idea what was next, when an unexpected event occurred. My sister, who had purchased a round trip air ticket to visit our aunt and uncle in Playa Del Rey, suddenly became engaged, moved to London, England and left the airline ticket to me! So, for the first time ever, I visited California during Christmas 1979.

Shortly after I arrived at my aunt and uncle's place, they encouraged me to “throw my hat into the ring” at a few LA tax law firms and I thought, "What have I got to lose?" After all, I had already fallen in love with the warm California winter! I didn't even plan to look for work when I came out here, so I had to hastily put together a resume, take it to a typist (I couldn’t just type it myself on a computer back then!), then hand-deliver it to a few law firms, just to see what would happen.

Believe it or not, in just a few days, I received several job offers, the lowest of which was several times what I was offered back East!  I thought, California truly is the land of opportunity!

A few days later, as soon as I arrived back home in New Jersey, I began packing my car with just about everything I owned, while my parents watched in disbelief and wondered what in the world I was doing.

Then, after five days of driving thousands of miles across the country by myself, staying overnight in cheap motels in small towns like Charleston, West Virginia and Little Rock, Arkansas, I made my way here in January of 1980. I had left my immediate family and all of my friends and knew only 2 people when I arrived here, my aunt and uncle.

Then Came the “Entrepreneurial Seizure”

After working for a while at a large law firm, one of the firm clients suddenly urged me to set up a law practice of my own.  I responded to him, “How will I open my own office?  I don’t have any clients!”  He immediately, emphatically proclaimed, “I’ll be your first client!”  So, in October 1981, with the additional encouragement of my aunt and uncle, I took another leap of faith and started my own law firm - - just myself, one part-time secretary and one client. Little did I realize that the first few years were going to be such a struggle.  Despite all my degrees and expertise, the phone did not ring off the hook.  A big reason I survived was that first client, Jerry.  He became my guardian angel - - seemingly knowing when to stop by and give me some positive energy.  Often times we just sat and shot the breeze about his many interests and thoughts about life, after which he demanded I send him a bill, whose payment invariably kept me going!  I realized I had to aggressively seek out clients, so I started to observe other professionals who figure out how to present public seminars.  Once I got the hang of it, seminars grew my firm exponentially!

The Rest is Now History

Over these 41 years, we merged into our firm the practices of Roger Minor and Robert Otis, and have serviced well over 20,000 clients in the South Bay and greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

October 2021

Here Are a Few of Our Firm’s Milestones

October 17, 1981

Philip J. Kavesh, A Professional Corporation is created and opens its first office in Irvine

March 1983

Our very first public Living Trust Seminar, which would become over the years our unique way of attracting and educating new clients

September 1987

Moved offices to the South Bay and began offering Financial Planning Services through our side-by-side, affiliated firm of Kavesh and Gau

September 1991

Merged with Roger Minor and Kavesh & Minor was created

October 1991

Began teaching other estate planning lawyers from across the country to duplicate our “model” practice through our “Attorney Boot Camps”

February 1992

Mr. Kavesh co-founded the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, still in existence today

July 1992

Mr. Kavesh is recognized by the State Bar as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law

August 1993

The TV Show "Planning Your Estate" first airs on LA Channel 22 (and continued on for about 6 years)

December 1998

Merged with Robert Otis and Kavesh, Minor & Otis was created

April 1999

Mr. Kavesh sold his interest in the financial services company of Kavesh & Gau and focused on expanding the law firm

June 1999

Law services were now offered throughout Los Angeles & Orange Counties with the establishment of KMO satellite offices

October 17, 2001

KMO celebrates its 20th Anniversary, having become one of the largest estate planning law firms in all of Southern California

November 1, 2001

Moved to our current, custom-designed offices at 990 W. 190th Street, Suite 500

August 2002

Mr. Kavesh developed The Personal Asset Trust™, a unique technical/legal innovation to help protect beneficiaries’ inheritances

July 2004

Attorney Peter Keon joins the law firm (and is still with us today!)

September 2004

Mr. Kavesh establishes his new company, The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. to teach other estate planning professionals throughout the country how to successfully build their practices

May 2005

Attorney Jane Lee joins the law firm (also still with us today!)

September 2005

Mr. Kavesh receives an IRS Private Letter Ruling in favor of his newest planning invention, the IRA Inheritance Trust®, designed to minimize taxation of, and maximize the protection of, inherited IRAs

September 2006

Mr. Kavesh releases his newest book, "The Successor Trustee Manual" and began presenting “Successor Trustee Training” seminars

November 2007

New Financial Planning affiliation is established with the firm of Peace Wealth Management, with offices located adjacent to the KMO Torrance Office

July 2010

Attorney Jane Lee is recognized by the State Bar as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law

October 2011

Mr. Kavesh semi-retires from the law practice, focusing more on helping teach other attorneys how to run successful law practices, while still overseeing KMO and its lawyers, as well as helping with its marketing

July 2012

Mr. Kavesh is recognized by the State Bar for his 20 years of community service as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning

July 2013

Attorney Peter Keon is recognized by the State Bar as a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law

October 2015

KMO reaches milestone of having helped administer over 4,000 estate plans after clients have passed away (a number rarely attained by other firms)

July 2019

Attorney Peter Keon celebrates his 15th anniversary working for the law firm

March 2020

Coronavirus pandemic forces KMO to work remotely from home, moving to virtual appointments and seminars

May 2020

Attorney Jane Lee celebrates her 15th anniversary working for the law firm

June 2021

KMO reopens its offices for in-person meetings (while still offering virtual meetings)

October 2021

KMO celebrates its 40th Anniversary! 🥳

July 2022

KMO holds its first in-person Living Trust Seminar in over 2 years!

A Shout Out to Some Previous KMO Team Members
You May Have Known

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize a few team members who were instrumental to building the firm into what it is today.  At the risk of forgetting some others, I’d like to express my special thanks to: Jackie Meehan (who was our first paralegal and office manager and worked directly with clients as well as set up our vital company internal processes, procedures, and systems); Doug Cobb (a paralegal who helped develop our unique seminar expertise, doing presentations as well as servicing many of the clients who attended); attorney Allen Hoffman (my first associate); and attorneys Gary Talavera, Michael Millea and Samuel Ledwitz (who did much of the “heavy lifting”, handling clients matters during the years I was focused on seminars and building the firm).

Let’s Also Recognize a Couple of VIPs
You’ve Probably Never Seen!

At some point, you’ve probably walked from our lobby to an attorney’s office, met with the attorney, and returned back to the lobby clutching your Estate Planning Document book and book bag. That whole process may have appeared to be pretty simple, but there was a lot more that went on (and still goes on) “behind the scenes” at our office that you never really see.

Successfully running a law office with multiple attorneys and support staff is no snap. It involves so many details that it’s simply mind-boggling. Everything from watching the nickels and dimes of our expenses, to coordinating marketing and appointment calendars, to processing all the paperwork, to answering the phones and e-mails, to being sure we have enough pens and paper and our company computers and copiers are all working! (And that doesn’t include dealing every day with all the different “personalities” and keeping everyone on track and efficient!)

That big a job, of daily managing a successful law firm, takes a strong, hard-working person, or two.  The two individuals who have been with our firm the longest and taken on this huge responsibility (and whom you probably have never met) are Elaine Anderson and Arlyn Villanueva.

Elaine joined our firm way back in 1990 as a typist (shortly after she had emigrated from China, with her Chinese-English dictionary next to her as she typed!).  Through her hard work, dedication and efforts, Elaine has achieved the highest level of Senior Estate Planning Paralegal.  In the Spring of 2000, Elaine moved to Boston when her husband, relocated his job, and after he recently retired, they both moved again, this time to Florida.  Despite her not being physically here for over 20 years, she has never left us!  She became a remote employee long before the pandemic made that sort of work status more common.  Today, Elaine continues to service our clients by phone, Zoom and e-mail and has continued to assist the firm in preparation of thousands of trusts over the years.  She also helps Mr. Kavesh supervise and train the associate attorneys of the firm.

Arlyn Villanueva started with our firm in 1994, quietly working in the file room. It was only her second job ever, right out of high school. After demonstrating her attention to detail, she soon advanced to quietly working as a typist/word processor, then quietly working as a full-fledged estate planning paralegal. (We must repeat “quietly” because Arlyn was known for being very serious and focused on her work, hardly ever saying a word to anyone!)

Over the years, Arlyn became familiar with every operating procedure and system in our firm.  Her confidence (as evidenced by her increasingly outgoing personality) grew leaps and bounds and she became the always sought “go-to” person whenever someone had a question or problem. So it was only natural that she eventually was promoted to the position of Office Manager in 2007 – and has done a great job in that key position ever since.

“Over these last 25 plus years, I literally grew up at Kavesh, Minor and Otis” says Arlyn. “I feel like everyone here is my family.” 

Between the two of them, Elaine and Arlyn help keep things at the law firm running smoothly and efficiently.  All the daily “behind the scenes” work doesn’t happen without the two of them and all of their years of experience.  The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis wouldn’t be where it is today without the two of them.

So Let’s Raise a Glass and Make a Toast!

Here’s to many more years to come, where we at KMO may continue to help serve our community, our clients, and their loved ones.  It’s very rare and unique to find a law firm (or, for that matter, any business nowadays) that has successfully serviced its clients for this long and is built solidly to do so for many years to come.  With KMO, you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, when the time comes and you (or your spouse) may become ill, disabled or passes away, the law firm that was there to help you set up your estate plan will be there to help your loved ones years later. 

Last, but certainly not least, let me express my gratitude to all of our valued clients for your trust, loyalty, support and referrals over these many years!

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
Join The Conversation
Thom M Williamson 10/01/2022 10:18 PM
Congratulations Phil and all the people that have made KMO what it is and how it helps people keep their estate plans in place.
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