ADDRESS: Bowlby Building, 310 NW 5th Street, Suite 107, Corvallis, OR 97330
PHONE NUMBER: 541-250-0542
OWNER: Robert Mauger
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1 FTE
WHAT THEY PROVIDE: Legal services
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Robert Mauger is committed to providing affordable legal services to people in Benton and Linn counties. He offers individualized, creative, and cost-effective solutions.
Serving the legal needs of the underserved is one of the goals of Robert Mauger, Attorney at Law. Trained in environmental policy and environmental law, Robert has a strong commitment to sustainability, as evidenced by his office’s sustainability policy and his volunteer activities related to the environmental, social, and economic needs of the community. And Robert is probably the only attorney in Corvallis who will accept HOURS [local currency] and barter, as well as the usual forms of payment. All of these attributes combine to make this a truly unique law firm.
Robert, when and why did you decide to start your business? My parents always owned small businesses, and it seemed like it would be a fun challenge to start my own business. I’m from Ohio, and I went to law school at the University of Michigan. But I visited Portland in 2006 and decided I wanted to move to the Pacific Northwest. When my significant other, Rachel, was accepted into graduate school at OSU, I moved with her to Corvallis. I got a job at OSU’s Institute for Natural Resources, volunteered with legal aid, and worked as an associate attorney here in Corvallis for about a year. But I really wanted to start my own business so I connected with Bill Ford at the Business Enterprise Center (BEC), and the BEC provided me with an office in exchange for legal consultation. The BEC supported me and encouraged me to put my toe in the water and open my own law office, which I did a year ago. I’m also now serving as the Executive Director of the BEC.
Tell us more about your services. Basically, I do civil litigation, dealing mostly with landlord/tenant disputes, real estate, foreclosure defense, small business advising and litigation, and trust and estate planning and administration. I would like to support small businesses by having more small business clients like myself.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? There are a lot of people who think they know more than they do about law because of what they’ve seen on TV and on the internet. A lot of the people who come to me are do-it-yourselfers who have started into litigation or a real estate deal. Having to correct clients’ misconceptions is a challenge. It’s also a challenge to learn all the attributes of running a business while concurrently developing my legal expertise.
What is the impact of local independent businesses in Corvallis – and what does the future look like for local independents? Local independents give Corvallis its vibrancy. They’ll continue to play an important role in Corvallis’s economic engine, and both the BEC and I would like to see them grow. There’s a growing awareness nationally that some of our giant structures aren’t as resilient as everyone thought they were.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business? I like being able to work with my significant other, Rachel Ulrich, who is our Legal Services Manager. I also enjoy setting my own hours, whether it means taking off in the middle of the day to attend a Sustainability Coalition meeting or working from 7 to 11 at night, when I’m most productive. Another benefit of being independent is the ability to set my own rates and to find ways to serve the large underserved population in Corvallis. I’m able to focus on those causes that are important to me.
What is your relationship to the community? In addition to serving as Executive Director of the BEC, I serve on the steering committee of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, and I lead the Coalition’s Economic Vitality Action Team. I’m on the board of the Corvallis Bicycle Collective, serving as the treasurer and social media coordinator. I’m also on the board of the Oregon State Bar Sustainable Future Section (OSBSFS), and I belong to both CIBA and the DCA.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? Sustainability is an integral part of my business. Prior to going to law school, I worked for the US PIRG [Public Interest Research Group], and I learned a lot about environmental policy and got interested in environmental law. Among my business’s core values are respect for the finite limits of our natural and economic environments, a commitment to creating a vibrant community with an active culture, and access to justice. Our office has a sustainability policy that’s in line with the OSBSFS Partners Program, meaning that we do things like unplugging computers, printers, and peripherals every evening; recycling all of our paper; and purchasing recycled paper and office supplies from secondhand and/or local stores. I participate in Avvo.com, an online community where lawyers give free basic legal advice, and I am a panelist for the Oregon Lawyer Referral Service and Modest Means programs, providing reduced-cost legal advice, representation, and small claims counseling.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – February 10, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).