As a partner at Rouse & Rouse Attorneys, PLLC, Jonathan Rouse is a well-versed attorney dedicated to serving his community in Versailles, Kentucky. Like many other elder law attorneys, he first started in estate planning and later added elder law to his family practice. After all, it’s a natural expansion that both adds a new revenue stream for the attorney and helps their existing clientele with lifetime planning. As a WealthCounsel member too, Jonathan is a great example of an attorney who has successfully branched out and built a thriving elder law practice.
Jim Wolverton recently sat down with Jonathan to discuss his journey of becoming an elder law attorney. Watch his interview now, or keep reading, to learn what key factors played a role in his success.
Jonathan started his career as a lawyer through his family practice previously run by his grandfather and father. Their practice provided estate planning and real estate legal assistance to the county and had built strong relationships with clients over the course of over 100 years. It was not until Jonathan joined the family business and heard about elder law at a CLE event that he considered expanding their practice to better serve their aging clients and community.
In the fall of 2018, Jonathan made the decision to join ElderCounsel so he could attend the Elder Law Immersion and Practice-Building Camp and bring elder law into his family’s practice. While attending the camp, his mind was filled with all of the information an attorney new to elder law could need, but he also recalled how overwhelming the event was. With all of the new information, Jonathan started having doubts about practicing elder law in his small town and approached Valerie Peterson, ElderCounsel CEO, with his concerns.
Jonathan said, “I remember Valerie told me, ‘A small town is perfect. It’s an untapped market. You’re going into an area where nobody else is doing this, and if you’re responsibly charging your clients, you’re going to have more business than you can handle,’ and I still didn’t believe her.”
Even with his doubts, Jonathan decided to press on and fully submerge himself in the resources ElderCounsel had available for attorneys new to elder law. He realized the best way to understand the Medicaid laws and trust drafting techniques taught at the Immersion Camp was to just start practicing with the ElderCounsel software.
Jonathan recalled that even with his training, “It wasn’t until I had my first client for a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust that it really kicked in.” With this client, all of the knowledge he had learned from the camp started coming together, and for the first time since deciding to pursue elder law, he could see a future in it for his firm.
Through a continued partnership with ElderCounsel, Jonathan’s practice started growing. He worked with the ElderCounsel team to build a new website for the firm, design a logo, update business cards, create a social media presence, and even prepare new letterhead with the firm’s new branding. As recommended in the camp, he also networked with local nursing homes and hosted free seminars for his community to share the additional services he could offer as an elder law attorney.
By 2019, Jonathan was no longer able to help his father with estate planning and real estate cases. In his words, the elder law practice had “caught fire” and plenty of clients were coming in looking for the legal services only he could provide. It eventually became apparent that the demand for his services required more time than he could provide alone, and an additional associate and staff member were added to his team.
As an attorney still fairly new to the practice area, he finds it both important and rewarding to be transparent with each and every client. He is confident in what he knows and honest about what he doesn’t know. Jonathan’s advice to other attorneys new to elder law (or any practice area) is, “Don’t tailor your clients' needs by your practice, tailor your practice by your clients’ needs.” He uses this mindset with every family he works with and says it helps build trust and gain lifelong relationships with his clients.
Over the last few years, Jonathan has made it his priority to share his skills and experience in elder law, Veterans benefits, Medicaid planning, and special needs planning within his community. As a member of ElderCounsel and other well-known organizations including the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, the Academy of Special Needs Planners and the Elder Law Section of the Kentucky Bar Association,
Jonathan’s success is an excellent example of how an ElderCounsel membership can transform your practice. Contact us today and let's discuss how we can support your business goals and help you create the practice of your dreams.