Nicole Girard 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The Nolan Law Firm Love in Law It’s not often that saccharine sweet terms of romantic love are thrown around in discussions of criminal law defense; except where The Nolan Law Firm is concerned. “We started out as a love story over anything else,” said co-founder and partner, Todd E. Nolan. He and his wife, Cari McConeghy Nolan founded the Mesa based firm in 2009. The celebrated husband-wife team handles any and all criminal matters including DUI, serious felonies, misdemeanors, appeals and PCRs throughout the Phoenix metropolitan and surrounding areas. This unlikely fairytale revolves around a match made in legal heaven. The Nolans first met in 2007, while still at their previous firm. They forged a friendship which subsequently bore the fruit of love, as well as a whole new law firm. “For us, practicing together is a dream-cometrue,” Todd said. The happy couple often jokes that they “found love in a hopeless place.” “We were working in a place where the people weren’t encouraged to be friends. We certainly forged a friendship, however, and moved on from there,” Todd said. “When it comes down to it, we are soul mates personally and professionally.” Todd left the firm in June 2009 to start his own. Cari joined him the following November. They made it official on July 3, 2010, in Las Vegas; in what Cari describes as a “small but beautiful fairytale wedding celebrating our eternal love.” Criminal Defense, DUI, Appeals “We are a husband-wife team. It’s really what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis and its why were successful,” Cari said. “It’s not something we conjured up with the help of a marketing consultant.” Combined, the Nolans provide a well-rounded approach to their practice areas of criminal defense, DUI and appeals. “We’re the perfect complement to each other,” Todd added. Todd is a trial lawyer, certified by the State Bar as a criminal law specialist. Cari is an appellate attorney with numerous published opinions, who has briefed cases all the way to the US Supreme Court. “As far as the appeals, that’s fairly unique,” Todd said. “The vast majority of criminal defense attorneys don’t want to do appellate work.” Cari and Todd even handle cases involving post-conviction relief, habeas corpus, and like matters where it can be difficult for people to find representation. “Cari is the best writer and appellate advocate I have ever known,” Todd said of his wife’s talents and what she brings to the practice. “When it comes to writing, it would be really challenging to find another lawyer out there with her credentials and abilities.” Their combined expertise is a rarity and one that has been well-received by clients. Their enhanced legal capabilities serve clients well each step of the way. They work on cases starting in the pre-charge stage when needed and they can help people even if they are hired after a conviction. “I think what has allowed us to be successful is the team approach,” Todd said. “People like hiring a husband and wife team. They like that Cari brings the best writing to the table and that I bring my trial expertise.” The advantage of their particular dynamic has found an audience of appreciation in their clients, which has also prompted the firm’s expeditious growth. By the end of their second year, the firm more than doubled in size, from a staff of three to eight, including an office manager, paralegals and two associate attorneys. “We don’t take anything for granted,” Todd says. “We’ve seen phenomenal growth in our practice in a short period of time. And, given the struggling economy of the last few years, we’re especially pleased at the success we’ve had.” Caring Representation The husband/wife team has allowed their love for one another to become infused throughout their practice. They’ve strived to create an atmosphere of understanding, compassion and hard work to pervade every aspect of their practice. They believe this attitude allows them to remain grounded and to connect with the individuals they represent; an important key to their practice. “Often, people charged with a crime feel like they are ‘guilty until proven innocent,’ and they are panicked, hopeless, and afraid,” Cari says. “They need someone to fight for them and care for them, so that they have hope and can function in their daily lives.” These are feelings Cari developed as a teen when she watched a family member go through the terror of being wrongfully charged with a crime. “Nobody really seemed to know what should be done or how to handle it,” Cari said of that trying time in her life. “I was young and didn’t know much about the law, and it stressed for me how important it is to have someone who cares, who is knowledgeable and who is willing to fight on your side.” Cari attributes these experiences with helping to better prepare her for the hard-fought battles won by placing her heart on the line. She is passionate about what she does, in part due to her experiences growing up. The Nolans have found that for many of their clients, their one case may be the only contact they’ve ever had with the law for any reason, and thus it can dominate their whole life no matter what the charges. The Nolans believe there are no insignificant cases. “We fight for our clients, whether charged with a misdemeanor or felony,” she said. “We defend people, and that is regardless of whether they face a small fine for having a ‘dog at large’ or whether they face life in prison for homicide. For each client, their case is critically important to them, and it is important to us too. We get letters showing profound gratitude for the work we’ve done.” “We genuinely care about our clients,” Cari said. “It’s not just a business. It’s something that’s very important to us as human beings.” The Nolans are also known for straight-talking. They know their clients’ lives are often on the line so they make it a point to give honest reviews and advice. Clients have real hope when they realize that we are really fighting for them, that we care about them, and that we are not just telling them what they want to hear,” Todd states. “We didn’t do this because our plan was to get rich,” Cari says. “We absolutely do this because we want to help people and give them hope. And, our clients like that we’re hard working, aggressive, and that we really handle these cases together,” she said. Sometimes clients approach them on an appeal, PCR, or habeas corpus, after years of discouragement with the system. “That’s been a very constant theme,” Cari said. “People come to us at all stages looking for renewed hope.” Made in Arizona Todd credits his upbringing when asked of the secret behind his rapid ascent in the field. Having been born and raised in Phoenix, Todd is a bona-fide, Arizona native. As such, his determination to be of service to his community was instilled in him when he was a very young desert-dweller. “My grandmother, who is now deceased, was very active in my life and had a profound effect on me,” he said. “When I was a kid, she always urged me to help people and to become a confident speaker.” As a teen, with her encouragement, Todd joined a fraternal youth organization that focused on the development of leadership and public-speaking skills. He eventually became a national public-speaking champion. “I knew early on, based on what my grandma instilled in me, that I wanted to do something where I could help people and speak publicly,” he explained. He went to high school in Glendale, and attended ASU West for his undergraduate studies. Todd graduated in 2000 from the Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska. “I’ve lived here all my life except for the three years that I lived in Omaha for law school,” Todd said. “This is home.” When she was ten, Cari’s parents moved her and her three siblings from Mississippi to the small town of Springerville in northern Arizona. “They wanted to raise us in a smaller area, near other family,” she said. “That brought them to the White Mountains.” By the time Cari attended the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, her loyalties to the Grand Canyon State were deeply rooted. “I travelled in my early twenties then came back to Arizona because it’s home,” Cari said. “When I went to ASU for law school, it was set in stone that this is where I wanted to stay.” These days, home at the Nolans’ includes a happy brood ranging from 16 years to the most recent addition, at eight months. Todd had three children from a previous marriage and Cari had two. They welcomed their new baby, Hayden into the mix as a Christmas present last December. “Cari is a wonderful, caring, and excellent mom,” Todd said. “Whenever the kids are feeling down or need words of encouragement they all want to go to Cari.” It’s undoubtedly a lot of work, but somehow it seems the Nolan Law Firm’s special brand of magic works after hours as well. “We have a perfect balance at home and a perfect balance at work,” Todd said of the close relationship he and Cari share. “We’re together the majority of the time, and it’s never enough. We’re either talking about the cases or the kids. We back each other up and it works.” He added that the kids are very supportive of each other, and take turns doting on the baby. Finally, at the end of the day, after the soccer, swim, football and basketball practices, dance lessons, and homework assignments are all finished, Todd and Cari are able to spend some time alone, doing what they do best. “At night, when the kids are settled down, we’re back to law and each other,” Todd said. When they do find time to unwind it’s usually in a comfy place on the couch, talking and spending time with the kids—or on those rare occasions—just one another. “We’re absolute movie-buffs,” Todd said. They also like to travel. Road trips are a regular occurrence with this group. They prefer the breezy, coastal destinations of San Diego and Sea World, or anyplace suitable for the whole family. It’s not a formula for everyone, but it’s one that has worked wonders for Todd and Cari Nolan. They love what they do and they love each other. They come together in their shared purpose of bringing justice to their community. “Our clients have been really pleased with the way we do things,” Todd said. “They like our story. And, for us, it’s still very romantic that we have our own practice, our life together, and that we fight together for our clients.” It’s a spectacular story after all, perhaps one that belongs in one of those movies the Nolan’s are so fond of. But for them, it’s all in a day’s work. “None of this is a sales pitch,” Todd added after some silent reflection. “We genuinely care about the work we do, and our life is very much a fairytale.”
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