When Alan Plevy , JD ’77, and Jason Smolen, JD ’77, decided to go into business together after graduating from Mason’s School of Law, the two young, single classmates had nothing to lose—except a brand-new iBM selectric ii typewriter.
“We paid $100 a month on it,” says Plevy. “we still use it 32 years later.”
Along with the typewriter, the Smolen–Plevy partnership has endured, growing from just the two colleagues pursuing court-appointed work in the Fairfax County courthouse to a successful, established firm. Both are well recognized in the legal community for their work. Most recently, Plevy was named one of the area’s top divorce attorneys by Washingtonian magazine.
While Plevy focuses on family law, Smolen specializes in business and trust matters. Neither planned to take up their established specialty, but rather fell into them as they developed their practice.
Once they opened their firm in downtown Fairfax in a small rented suite in a recently converted apartment building, the partners started frequenting the halls of the county courthouse, meeting the clerks, and picking up court-appointed cases. their reputation, which Smolen describes as “youthful enthusiasm,” spread, and their client base grew. Within a few years, they moved to their current location in Tysons Corner.
Both describe their practice as a “people law firm,” focused on doing the best for their clients.
“Do the best job possible for the client,” Plevy notes, “and the client will take care of you.”
Their work continues to speak for itself. Spring and summer 2009 brought attention to the firm, with Plevy’s Washingtonian designation and through a series of media appearances for Smolen. as a trust and estate attorney, he appeared on a number of local news broadcasts as an expert to comment on Michael Jackson’s will after the entertainer’s death.
The duo credits their experiences at the School of Law as influencing their early stab at entrepreneurship. they were among the school’s first classes once the International School of Law merged with George Mason University and moved to the former Kann’s department store in Arlington. The interior still resembled its former tenant, complete with an escalator.
“There was this brothers-in-arms approach,” says Smolen. “Everyone felt that not only did they have to get through law school, they also had to get the school through.”
Plevy adds, “There was an entrepreneurial spirit, a great sense of adventure. These were people who were willing to take a risk.” Both note how rewarding it has been to see the school expand and grow in prominence over the years.
Giving back to the School of Law remains a priority for them, and the pair contributes in a number of ways. Many of the firm’s employees are Mason graduates, and most of the firm’s interns have come from Mason. Most of the firm participates regularly in activities through the School of Law Alumni Association, with one of the firm’s principals serving as a board member.
When the firm’s 25th anniversary came around a few years ago, Plevy and Smolen created a more lasting legacy to their alma mater by establishing a scholarship endowment to benefit a law student. Smolen explained that he and Plevy believed the right thing to do was to give back to an institution that had given them so much.
“People say that opportunities knock on your door,” Smolen says. “At best, they lay at your feet, and you have to pick them up. the law school gave us the opportunity to be here and open up a practice.”
—Corey Jenkins Schaut, MPA ’07
Beyond their law careers, both men are world travelers. Plevy recently climbed Kilimanjaro, and Smolen toured the Mediterranean. Read more at spirit.gmu.edu.