Who says the law can't be mellow? Dallas-based lawyer David Musslewhite, 63, has hit on a novel concept that makes meeting with an attorney as stress-free as sipping cappuccino in a coffee shop. In fact, once you enter the offices of David Musslewhite, Attorney and Counselor, you are in a coffee shop.
Located in the Lakewood Shopping Center, in East Dallas, Legal Grounds Law & Coffee blends latte with legalese — at fees that leave plenty left over for dessert. From one menu, you can order a Murderous Mocha or an Equal Rights Espresso. A second menu offers a variety of legal-services specials (a simple will costs $250). Bookcases filled with volumes of Vernon's Texas Statutes stand among the café tables, the overstuffed chairs, and the whooshing cappuccino machines.
After years of litigation and bad coffee at a large Dallas practice and then at his own firm, Musslewhite decided to try something different. In April 1997, he opened Legal Grounds with his wife, Leslie Murphy, 52, who runs the café. He wanted to capture the spirit of an old-fashioned country practice that does a bit of everything. "Many people feel intimidated by big firms, so they don't get their legal needs met," Musslewhite says. The Legal Grounds alternative solves people's problems in a nonthreatening environment.
Although Musslewhite's office is tucked away behind the kitchen, the attorney occasionally conducts his practice on the café floor, moving effortlessly between his roles as a serving member of the bar and a server behind the bar. "We're managing to succeed as both a café and a law firm," he says. "My own theory is that people just enjoy the idea of their lawyer having to mop the floor."
Contact David Musslewhite by phone (214-953-2200) or by fax (214-953-3085).
A version of this article appeared in the July 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.