Glen Frost, the managing partner at Frost Law, founded the firm in 2011. In the beginning, the firm was primarily focused on tax controversy cases given Mr. Frost’s background as a Certified Public Accountant. Since that time, the firm has grown considerably, to over 25 attorneys and other licensed professionals in more than 10 offices both inside and outside of Maryland. As the firm expanded, it remained focused on tax controversy matters and also added complementary practice areas such as business, bankruptcy, litigation and estate planning & administration. We sat down with Mr. Frost, along with his partners Eli S. Noff and Matthew P. Kraeuter, to learn more about the firm, their take on the evolution of the legal profession, and the firm’s work in helping businesses, including other law firms, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: When did you start your firm, and what were your primary areas of practice?
GF: I founded Frost Law in 2011. Back when I started, we were almost exclusively focused on tax controversy cases, utilizing my professional background as a Certified Public Accountant.
Adding Eli Noff shortly thereafter in 2012, and then as a partner in 2015, were major turning points for Frost Law. Having another attorney and CPA alongside me with experience in the international tax arena, as well as his work with overall practice management, was critical for driving the firm’s growth.
Q: How have you expanded the firm and your practice over the past few years?
GF: The number of attorneys and other licensed professionals in the practice has grown to more than 25 since starting the firm, and our primary areas of practice have expanded along with that. Many of those attorneys are focused on tax controversy, with folks like Rebecca Sheppard and Nicholas Berger joining us from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office and Mary Lundstedt from Bloomberg Industry Group.
Besides expanding and strengthening our tax controversy practice over the years, we’ve also diversified our operations – bringing on attorneys working in complementary practice areas and adding trusted partners we can turn to for matters involving business, bankruptcy, litigation, and estate planning & administration.
Estate planning and administration was one of the first complementary practice areas we added — minimizing taxes and other financial planning is an important part of practicing in that area so joining tax practitioners and estate law professionals was a very logical pairing. Leanne Broyles and Rob Owings have helped us grow that practice area and just this year we brought on Randy Fisher and Gary Altman as of counsel.
Most recently, Matt Kraeuter joined our firm as a partner at the start of 2020. He’s helped round out our firm and tax controversy efforts by helping us expand into business transactional matters and support all our practice areas with his extensive litigation experience.
Q: What is on the horizon for Frost Law?
EN: Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and economic havoc it has wreaked, we expect that our tax controversy practice will be meeting the needs of individuals and businesses who are encountering significant tax debt for the foreseeable future. We have seen this before in the 2008 financial crisis on a different level. Our firm helped many clients navigate their difficult tax problems resulting from the 2008 financial crisis, and we’ll be here again to see them through to better times.
What we’ll continue seeing more and more of now are issues related to the COVID tax deadline delays, along with countless questions about PPP Loans and how that’ll need to be reported next year.
Tax law is an incredibly dynamic area. Our tax matters often end up intersecting with a range of other practice areas — business problems, domestic issues, you name it. And the tax industry has seen a tremendous amount of change recently when you look back at the ACA tax provisions from the Obama administration and the dramatic tax code revisions under the Trump Administration. There’s always something you’re looking out for and often it’s which way the political winds are blowing that directs those changes.
GF: COVID obviously created a world of change. And with everything that’s happened this year, we’re continuing to make the firm more accessible for clients and our employees. Remote work thankfully wasn’t much of a hurdle for us.
But as a firm we’re constantly focused on improving the client experience because that ultimately drives a firm’s growth. The clients who have positive experiences–who get great results–they’re the ones who leave positive reviews and refer new clients to us. So, if you’re always working to refine that experience and make it better, faster, easier, and more accessible then you’ll undoubtedly be headed in the right direction.
Adding Matt Kraeuter as a partner early this year also added new sights along the firm’s horizon. We’re now able to even better serve businesses by offering general counsel and assistance with any potential litigation or commercial transactions they’re facing.
MK: The expansion of the business and litigation practice areas is off to a tremendous start. Given the broad base of current clients at Frost Law, providing our clients with these added services has been well-received. Moreover, with the addition of these new practice areas, Frost Law truly becomes a full-service business law firm and we’re better equipped than ever to help businesses with everything from formation to disputes to profitable exits.
Q: Who is your target client?
GF: Anyone dealing with tax issues. Taxes play a part in every person’s life, as well as businesses and estates, too. Our clients come from all walks of life with a wide range of issues, and our diverse team can help them find the best resolutions available.
Some of the most interesting matters we deal with are international tax matters — folks living abroad, expats, and recent immigrants. Business owners also tend to bring us complex tax matters that we’re able to walk them through and resolve.
Q: What sets Frost Law apart from other firms?
MK: What won me over when joining the firm is the financial expertise and the credentials backing it all up. Every lawyer took the bar so we know how tough credentialing can be, so having CPAs, CFPs, MBAs, LLMs, and other professionals supporting you and bouncing ideas off is a luxury few firms have.
GF: We’re a bit of a boutique firm with our matters often being focused on the numbers side of things. Taxes impact so much of the legal and financial world so there’s no shortage of questions and ways we can add value to clients, whether they’re individuals, businesses, or an estate. So, whenever somebody gives us a call – whether from a referral or because they heard about us online – we can help them quickly sort out their matter and get on the right path. And having dual-licensed CPAs and attorneys like myself, Eli Noff, and Kaitlyn Loughner handling those initial inquiries, we’re able to efficiently work through layered financial issues and then bring other legal professionals into the fold for the non-financial segments of their matter.
EN: We also serve clients across the country and abroad – some for tax matters but others as a full-service law firm. And many of our attorneys are dual licensed certified public accountants, many others also have LLMs in taxation, and others are Certified Financial Planners®.
And our early adoption of technology has also helped set us apart when working with clients domestically or internationally. COVID brought a lot of change to our lives very quickly, but remotely working with the team and with clients was barely more than a speed bump for us. Client accessibility has always been a priority for us—so much of the change that other firms experienced was little more than a blip for us.
Q: How would you describe your firm’s culture?
EN: Our firm’s core values are what we look for in our team members — empathy, focus, passion for our tradecraft, sensibility, freethinking, and enterprising. Our culture reflects these values, and I believe it creates a dynamic, results-oriented firm culture that’s inclusive and motivating for anybody involved with our firm.
Evolution of the Legal Profession
Q: How do you and your lawyers keep up with emerging and evolving legal issues, and why do you think this is important?
EN: The MSBA and other professional associations are some of the best sources of information possible. Team members from our firm are involved as members and volunteers for bar associations throughout Maryland, as well as the ABA, MACPA, and more. I am currently serving as a Vice Chair of the American Bar Association’s subcommittee on Tax Collection Bankruptcy and Workouts. Being involved with these groups of great minds is one of the best ways to stay current and provide cutting edge legal representation.
Additionally, firm knowledge management is always a priority for our team because of the ever changing nature of tax law, so we actively invest in making sure all our attorneys are aware of the latest developments. Mary Lundstedt, for example, works with clients in the tax controversy practice but she also dedicates a portion of her day to tracking, reporting, and disseminating new legal information internally and externally — you might be on our newsletter list where we share all those developments monthly.
In your opinion, what are some of the ways the legal profession changed over the past few years?
MK: I think the legal profession has become more self-reflective and open to change.
Legal technology has been catching up with other industries. The same kind of things that allow you to have a good experience at a retail store or on an online shop are being adopted by client-centric firms while others will be left with a shrinking client base, because new clients are expecting more.
GF: Legal tech is also helping to make law more accessible by delivering services more efficiently as well as letting new entrants get involved — the Big Four accounting firms are knocking on the legal industry’s doors, so it’s going to be exciting to see how that forces positive changes to improve the client experience.
And an eye-opening moment that I can’t help but see traces of throughout recent changes in the legal profession was the release of the 2016 ABA CoLAP/Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s study of mental health. Self-care is tremendously important in an industry that often has you working with people through the worst times of their lives. Seeing such stark numbers from that study seems to have allowed our industry to reflect on areas for improvement that aren’t always easy to discuss.
Q: How do you think the legal profession will continue to evolve with increased adaptation of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic?
EN: Well after seeing what one of our clerks went through with the bar exam, there certainly seems to be an opportunity to reassess how we can make a requirement like that better serve the profession.
Versatility for professionals should also become more highly valued. The Delta Model is something we talk about at the firm — modern lawyers need to be trained with skills that go beyond the law, such as personal effectiveness and business operations.
Personal effectiveness is knowing how to best work with your clients, colleagues, peers, and essentially anyone you interact with. The legal profession is built around adversarial interactions but not every encounter has to be centered on that; friendly relations go a long way in virtually every profession, law included.
And with business operations, financial acumen should also become more highly valued as budgets become tighter, so you need somebody whose comfortable navigating those sometimes tough financial conversations.
Q: What skills do you think lawyers and law firms should have in a post-COVID environment?
MK: Lawyers and law firms will more than ever need to be skilled in problem solving, time management, and marketing. Lawyers cannot simply be hammers looking for nails. Automation will allow some law firms to solve old problems in new ways, saving time along the way. And consolidation in already crowded legal spaces means that lawyers will need to be creative in how they find and retain their clients.
Q: How well have your attorneys adapted to this changing environment?
GF: Everyone has done very well. Different life circumstances and introverted vs. extroverted mentalities have all had to adjust to varying degrees. Overall, we’ve been very fortunate to have team members who’ve stayed nimble throughout their careers and weren’t afraid of the adjustments that were needed to stay productive and social.
Q: Have you had any challenges?
On the whole we’ve been fortunate. We’ve been set up as a cloud-ready firm since the start of the firm, so we didn’t have to change much in the way of our technology and processes. Those serendipitous hallway conversations that help you connect with the team and sometimes obviate the need for meetings, emails, and the like are certainly missed, but chatrooms and other online equivalents can at least act as somewhat of a substitute during all of this.
Q: Have you had any successes?
GF: Absolutely. Accessibility for our clients is always important so the technology we have for remote relationships has been great. Leanne Broyles has done some great trainings on how to handle remote document signings. And Peter Haukebo and Rebecca Sheppard have dominated the PPP Loan webinar scene.
Knowledge management is also an important part of law firm life. Which person knows what within the firm? What forms do we have that could apply to this thing we’re facing now? Which of our trusted legal partner firms can we turn to for insight? So, while being physically separate, we’ve all been able to stick together nicely thanks to different knowledge management systems we had already implemented — from softphones to video conferencing to internally-hosted wikis. Our team has doubled down on knowledge management and knowledge sharing so our team members along with our partner network have all been able to take advantage of that success.
Q: Your firm has been very involved in helping small businesses, including law firms, during COVID, can you give us an overview of some of the things you’ve done?
GF: Well, first we were figuring out what all this meant for ourselves. We have a lot of business-oriented professionals who were able to keep the pulse of relief options and because of our focus on knowledge sharing — internally and externally. So, we’ve been able to quickly and easily relay that information to others who need it.
Frequent webinars, in-depth articles, email digests, and monthly newsletters are all ways we have been able to support others who have experienced, and continue to experience, this particularly unpredictable year in Earth’s history.
Q: You’ve provided some guidance on the PPP loans, what are the top 3 things you think small businesses should know about PPP loans?
- PPP Loan recipients now have 24 weeks instead of 8 weeks to spend loan proceeds and they have 5 years to pay off any amount not ultimately forgiven.
- Mandatory payroll spending is reduced from 75% to 60%.
- Employers who received PPP funds can now defer the employer share of social security tax until December 31, 2020. If you haven’t deferred yet, employers can file Form 7200 and receive a refund or the employer’s share of social security tax paid.
Q: Why is your firm specifically interested in PPP, and why do you think it’s important that your firm became the expert in this so quickly?
GF: One of our primary practice areas is helping small businesses, and the PPP has significant impacts on small businesses. Many of our clients are business owners, and we can offer a comprehensive understanding of the PPP to give them the best advice possible.
Q: What do you see as the top 3 challenges your clients will face post-COVID?
EN: Reorganizations. Asset sales of all kinds. Tax relief. Half a year into this and there’s still tremendous uncertainty for all kinds of Americans and individuals around the globe. So, we expect that some of that uncertainty will eventually translate into those types of challenges for some clients.
Q: What are practice areas that you think will be implicated because of this?
Bankruptcy, business, estates, real estate, employment, and of course tax. Individual’s spending habits have changed, workplace habits have changed, and there’ll continue to be fast-paced change before we’re truly in a “post-pandemic” world.
Tax Law Section
In addition to his work as managing partner, Glen Frost is an active member of the MSBA and the Tax law Section.
Q: What are your goals for the Tax Law Section this year?
GF: We’re bringing together the attorneys and accountants. To be an effective attorney, you need to work well with other financial professionals. So, my mission is to bring the Tax Law Section closer to the CPAs, accountants, and financial advisers in the area so that clients are better informed and end up with more options for the financial situations.
Q: Why do you think it is important for attorneys to be involved with the Maryland State Bar Association and its various sections?
GF: Make connections, get new leads and referrals, share resources, develop your individual brand, attend events, and have fun.
For more information on Frost Law, check out the video interview here.
To view the PPP webinars conducted by members of Frost Law, click the specific title below: