Creating Wealth Through Smart Decisions with Chris Melcher

During the pandemic, many companies shifted from a collaborative office environment to a remote set-up. As a result, many business owners don’t see the need to invest in their own office space. However, the changing times do not mean real estate is no longer an attractive investment. In fact, it’s still one of your safest bets in protecting and building your wealth.  

In this episode, Christopher Melcher of Walzer-Melcher LLP shares the humble beginnings of his law firm and what Christopher does to keep his business successful. Christopher also talks about why you should invest in your own office space and how you can be properly prepared for it. Finally, he explains why you can reap more benefits from early planning of your financial goals. 

If you’re interested in starting a law firm and wondering how to create wealth investing in real estate, this episode with Christopher is for you!

Three reasons why you should listen to the full episode: 

  1. Discover the importance of investing in your office space.
  2. Learn how Christopher manages his law firm.
  3. Find out how you can manage your time and money to build your wealth.


Episode Highlights

A Law Firm Is a Business 

Christopher Melcher started as a criminal lawyer in 1994 and established his practice alone. Christopher met Peter Walzer, who convinced him to switch to family law. Christopher never imagined becoming a divorce lawyer.

By 2005, Christopher became a partner in Walzer Melcher LLP. Christopher had to learn the ropes of running a company.

  • Starting and running a business was never discussed in law school. It only taught students to think like a lawyer. - Christopher

Moshe: “When you start a law firm, you need to quickly recognize that the lawyer is the technician… And your role as the CEO is the owner of the business.”

Hiring People Into the Business by Chris

  • Recruiting people can be frightening because you are investing in them.
  • Adding more employees meant being able to accept and handle more cases.

Between 2005 to 2010, Christopher’s firm was looking into its potential for growth and hiring more lawyers.

  • People are not motivated by compensation alone.

What Motivates Employees

  • It is crucial to respect your employee's values and appreciate what they bring to the firm.
  • People are motivated by intangible factors such as job title and case assignments.
  • Ensuring that employees are not overburdened with work is needed to avoid burnout.

Metric for Success

  • Good managers know that the rate of turnover is a metric to the company’s success.

Christopher Melcher shared he’s fortunate his employees chose to stay in the firm.

  • The company should groom its staff as leaders.

Working Situation During the Pandemic 

Most of Christopher’s staff have already resumed working in the office. There were fewer distractions, and cases were discussed in teams.

  • Young lawyers need mentorship. It’s difficult to get guidance when you work from home. 

The pandemic opened an opportunity for experienced litigators in California to work remotely under Christopher’s firm.

  • Most small companies are looking into going virtual but still recognize they need a space to meet clients.

Embrace Work Flexibility

Christopher Melcher provides perks for his staff, such as free food, massage therapy, and transportation assistance to make them comfortable in the office.

  • Law firms struggle to deal with employees who don’t follow the work schedule.

Christopher Melcher: “If somebody wants a work-life can make a living off of that. But you're not going to build a law firm. You're not going to build a huge book of business. You're just going to be there in the service capacity.”

  • A lot of people want to pursue a work-life balance. But it’s difficult to follow this lifestyle if you were managing a law firm.
  • People consider the number of hours they spend at work as a badge of honor. But, for Moshe, you can hand off some of your tasks to others and still be successful.

Investing in Your Own Space

Christopher and his business partner dreamed of having a space of their own. Listen to the full episode to learn how Christopher and partners were able to buy two buildings after a few years of saving! 

  • Long-term leases make you spend a lot of money while maintaining another person’s property. 

Christopher Melcher : “We are really a product of our time. We don't really own anything other than our time.”

  • Companies are spending too much on rent. They must find ways to turn their expenses into assets.
  • There are a lot of lawyers living hand to mouth with no savings and plans. People should be wise with their money.

After the Purchase

  • The law firm occupies half of their first purchased building. The other half was rented out to others.
  • The payment from the lease shall be used for upgrading the establishment.
  • They sold the second building to a developer who wanted to improve the area.

Christopher looks forward to buying more properties.

Christopher Melcher: “[Something] to consider is where are your partners in their life plan compared to yours? I think purchasing doesn't make sense on a short term level. But if you're going to be in this [business] for 5 to15 years, it makes no sense to rent.”

Refinancing a Loan

  • It’s possible to refinance a loan. For example, you can use a traditional loan to pay off your SBA loan.
  • There are a lot of available financing options that can help.

Christopher: “[It’s] an opportunity if you have partners of different age groups. If you're going to own this asset together, it is essentially a way for a retiring partner to continue participating in some income for the firm.”

When to Start Investing in Real Estate 

  • People should start planning for the long-term from day one.
  • Some lawyers say they can't buy a building because their practice was located in an expensive area.

Christopher Melcher:“I would rather be in the bad area and own than rent in a good area. If you're good, your clients will come to you.”

  • It’s okay to dream big but be realistic about which property you can afford.
  • There are ways to unlock long-term wealth and potential by doing smart things early on.

Make the Right Choices 

Christopher shared he was in so much debt during his first 10 years in the practice that he almost became bankrupt. Christopher didn’t want to go through that anymore.

  • Manage your money well instead of funding a lavish lifestyle.

Christopher: “That's the problem with lawyers, and I've suffered it for myself. You get out of law school, you need a nice car, you need the suits, you need the nice house, you need the vacations, you need the golf club, etc. And then great, you have a lifestyle but you have no future.”

  • Making wise financial decisions has a huge impact in the long run.

Value Your Own Time 

  • Avoid people who will take your time but have no intention of paying for your efforts.
  • Don’t give away your services for free unless you’re intentional about it.
  • Establishing a firm is more of a business than a profession. Your end goal is to make a profit.

About Christopher Melcher

Christopher Melcheris a partner in Walzer & Melcher LLP. He is an expert on family law, divorce litigation, matrimonial finance issues, and child custody matters. Christopher makes sure that his clients achieve successful outcomes despite challenging circumstances and keeps sensitive family matters private. As such, it is no surprise that business owners and popular personalities across California turn to Christopher Melcher for help.

Apart from being a lawyer, Christopher is a regular lecturer on family law issues and is known to author notable pieces on the same topic. Christopher earned his law degree at Pepperdine University and was admitted to the California bar in 1994.

To get learn more about Christopher Melcher and his work, visit his website, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Enjoyed this Episode with Christopher Melcher?

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