Law partners believe in their community

Chamber of Commerce honoring Columbia firm

Small business

August 26, 2002|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Paul Skalny would rather not buy an advertisement to promote his law firm - after all, Rapaport & Skalny is a law firm in a community that is full of them.

But being on the board of a community organization can speak volumes about his firm, Skalny says. Together, he and Susan R. Rapaport are on the boards of 10 organizations in Howard County, ranging from panels on business education to a local awards committee.

"Advertising doesn't say anything about me, but being on a committee with me says a lot about who I am and what we do," Skalny said. "It's a way for us to give back to our community who is our client base."

Named small business of the year by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Rapaport & Skalny LLC will receive the award at the Acknowledgement of Chamber Excellence dinner next month.

Also being honored at next month's dinner are Gordon Mumpowder, who was named business person of the year; the PCA Group, which was named large business of the year; the Arc of Howard County, which won nonprofit organization of the year; and Jamie Costa, who will receive the Chairman's Award for outstanding individual volunteerism.

The awards to be distributed Sept. 19 are a thank-you to business leaders who have helped the organization and others in the community, according to John Crovo, director of communications and programs.

"The criteria is that the winners [show] continuous and outstanding contributions to the chamber. ... But above that, what they're doing in the community," Crovo said. "Anyone who's won these has a commitment to the community as well as the chamber."

The winners are nominated by chamber board members, and selected by a committee of five. The awards program started in 1973 with the naming of a business person of the year, but has grown to include other categories, including small business of the year.

At Rapaport & Skalny, serving on boards and sponsoring events is part of the law firm's business approach. Skalny said he believes the reciprocity will serve his bottom line.

"The better this community is through the organizations we promote, the better business is going to be, and the more business flows back to us," he said. "[I'd rather] send the message out through networking and giving back to the community."

The law firm, which was established in 1995 when both partners left Nagle & Associates Chartered, handles nearly 1,000 clients today and is growing. Revenue was up 10 percent last year and about 15 percent this year, Skalny said. Profit also increased, by about 6 percent last year. In its eight years, the firm also has moved from rented space to a new office building the partners partially own.

With a staff of five, it concentrates on business and corporate law, intellectual property, estate planning, community association law and some real estate law. Skalny said he expects growth in the areas of estate planning and business law, because of the growing business community.

But the partners will also continue their giving, Skalny said.

"If we weren't involved in the community, it would feel like there's a hole, something missing," Skalny said. "It has become such an integral part of what we are."

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