Mark A. Chinn has been married to Cathy since 1978, and they have four daughters and a granddaughter. Mark operates a firm that serves clients in the field of family law. He has an AV rating and a perfect 5.0 Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
He is the author of three ABA books, How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, published by the Family Law Section and Law Practice Management Sections and The Constructive Divorce, published by the GP/Solo Division and Forms, Checklists and Procedures for the Family Lawyer, published by the ABA Family Law Section in 2010. He is also author of chapters entitled, “Marketing is Not a Dirty Word,” in How to Capture and Keep Clients, and “The Exit Interview” in 101 Practical Solutions for the Family Lawyer, both published by the ABA.
Mark is a frequent contributor in periodicals such as theAmerican Journal of Family Law, The Family Advocate, Small Firm Profit Report and Fair Share on the subjects of client relations, service and law practice management.
Mark has been featured in the National Lawyer’s Weekly Magazine for delivering world-class service. He has been a frequent speaker for the American Bar Association Family Law Section, The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, The Iowa and Indiana Bar Associations, and the Mississippi Bar on issues of family law practice management and delivering world-class service.
Mark has received distinction from the following publications:
- Top 50 Lawyers in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal
- Best Family Law Firm in Mississippi by Corporate INTL Magazine
- Mid-South Super Lawyers
- The Best Lawyers in America
- Martindale-Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
He is one of the one hundred attorneys that were selected from Mississippi for membership into the Outstanding Lawyers of America.
Mark was the recipient in 1996 of the Award of Merit for distinguished service to the Bar and the public and was enrolled as a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation in 1997. Mark has been Chairman of the Family Law Section of the Mississippi Bar twice and a member of the governing council of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association for two terms. His other work with the Mississippi Bar has included: Chairman in 1995-96 of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee, and past service on the Ethics, Client Relations, Women in the Profession, and Fee Dispute Resolution Committees.
Mark was Chairman of the Lamar Order of the University of Mississippi School of Law Alumni Association in 2002. He was President of the Hinds County Bar Association for 1998-99 and is a Master of the Bench in the Charles Clark American Inn of Court.
He was elected Vice Chair of the Supreme Court’s Gender Fairness Task Force and was appointed by the Governor of Mississippi to the Children’s Justice Task Force.
Community activities include: Chairman of the Jackson Urban League Board of Directors (1995-2000); Chairman of the Tenth Jubilee! Jam in May 1996 which featured the Olympic Torch; Jubilee! Jam Foundation Board, Arts Alliance Board, Opera Board and Leadership Jackson.
Black belt in Karate and kick boxing and a veteran of the 20 years of Rugby, Mark is also a private pilot and enjoys golf and weightlifting.
Mark received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in 1975 and his Law Degree from the University of Mississippi in 1978. He is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi, the Fifth and Seventh Circuits and the United States Supreme Court.
- Business Integrity Award Finalist, 2004, Mississippi Business Journal
- Mississippi Bar Foundation
Mark is a frequent contributor in periodicals such as the American Journal of Family Law, The Family Advocate, Small Firm Profit Report and Fair Share on the subjects of client relations, service and law practice management.
- GP Solo, ABA GPSolo Division, Feb. 2010, “Constructive Divorce with Value Based Pricing”
- Family Advocate, ABA Family Law Section, Vol. 32, no. 2, Fall, 2009, “Law Office Staff Manual”
- The Mississippi Lawyer, Vol LV, July-Sept, 2009, “Family Law: The Constructive Divorce”
- American Journal of Family Law, Summer, 2008, “The Exit Interview”
- American Journal of Family Law, Winter, 2007, “Marketing for People Who Hate It”
- Family Advocate, ABA Family Law Section, Vol. 24, no. 3, “Prenuptial Agreements”
- American Journal of Family Law, Summer, 2008, “The Exit Interview”
- The Family Law Review, Family Law Section of Georgia, “Dumping the Billable Hour”
- American Journal of Family Law, Spring, 2000, “We Are All Uncivil in Our Own Way”
- American Journal of Family Law, Spring, 1999, “Practice Management: Ten Tips for Better Client Relations”
- American Journal of Family Law, Fall, 1999, “Practice Management: Ten Tips to Enjoy Life as an ‘A’ Personality Lawyer”
- Fair Share, The Matrimonial Monthly, Sept., 1998, “Books About Divorce”
- Fair Share, The Matrimonial Monthly, Aug, 1998, “The Ins and Outs of the Exit Interview”
- The Practical Lawyer, April, 1998, “Conducting the Exit Interview”
- The Mississippi Lawyer, Vol XXXII, Nov.-Dec., 1995, “We Are The Bar”
- The Mississippi Lawyer, Vol XXXXI, Nov.-Dec, 1994, “Ethical Effective Client Relations”
- The Bencher, The Newsletter of the American Inns of Court, Oct. 93, “Dial 9 to Get Out”
Mark has been a frequent speaker for the American Bar Association Family Law Section, The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, The Iowa and Indiana Bar Associations, and the Mississippi Bar on issues of family law practice management and delivering world-class service.
Some selected presentations:
- “Divorce Case Intake and Pre-Litigation Tactics” at the “Divorce Litigation from Start to Finish” Seminar in Jackson, MS, given by the National Business Institute, March 7, 2013
- “Dumping the Billable Hour” delivered to the Indiana State Bar Association, October 25, 2012
- “Social Media for Lawyers,” “The Constructive Divorce,” and “How to Create the Law Practice of your Dreams” presented to the South Carolina Association for Justice at its annual convention in Hilton Head, South Carolina, August 1-5, 2012
- “Divorce 101,” delivered to the Ms Volunteer Lawyers Project, May 27, 2010
- “Getting Paid For What You Do,” delivered to ABA Teleseminar, Nov. 18, 2009
- “Family Law Update,” delivered to members of Mississippi Bar, Aug. 12, 2009
- “The Law Office of Your Dreams,” delivered to the Indiana State Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference, June 4, 2009
- “Finding Legal Solutions to Family Law Problems: Dealing With and Training Clients and Other Lawyers to Create A Positive Framework for Dissolutions,” delivered to the Indiana State Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference, June 5, 2009
- “Billing Pitfalls and Pratfalls.” delivered to ABA Teleseminar, Dec. 3, 2008
- “It Doesn’t Have to be a War of the Roses,” delivered to ABA teleseminar, Jun 18, 2008
- “Creating the Law Practice of Your Dreams,” delivered to the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, Nov. 2007
- “The Constructive Divorce,” delivered for Legalspan CLE provider, Oct. 30, 2007
- “Building a Successful Family Law Practice,” delivered to the ABA Family Law Section Conference, Nov. 11, 2007
- “World Class Service” presented to the Florida Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Meeting, Grand Hyatt, Tampa, Florida, May 4, 2007
- “Creating the Law Practice of Your Dreams” presented to the 2006 Annual meeting of the Iowa Bar in Des Moines, Iowa
- “Dumping the Billable Hour” presented to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Florida Chapter in 2006
- “Marketing for Those Who Hate It” presented to the Fall Meeting of the Family Law Section of the ABA in Santa Fe, N.M. in fall, 2006.
- “Complex Issues in Divorce for the Mississippi Practitioner,” presented by NBI, Mar. 2005
- Featured in Mississippi Business Journal, Jan 5-11, 2009, “Attorneys Weather Economic Downturn.” by Lynne Jeter.
- Featured in American Bar Association Journal, June 2008, for authoring The Constructive Divorce. “Still No Bed of Roses.”
- Featured in Lawyers USA, June 16, 2008 for creating a unique referral appreciation event, “The Chinn Dig.”
- Featured in Lawyers USA, July 30, 2007, for authoring The Constructive Divorce.
- Featured in The Clarion-Ledger, November 18, 2007, for authoring The Constructive Divorce. “Hard Hitting Divorce Lawyer Advocates Softer Approach.”
- Featured in the National Lawyer’s Weekly Magazine for taking time off (Mar. 2007) “Vacation 101 For Lawyers.”
- Featured in the National Lawyer’s Weekly Magazine, Lawyersusaonline.com utilizing marketing assistants “Marketing Assistants – a Rainmakers Greatest Tool.”
- Featured in Lawyers USA, June 19, 2006, for dumping the billable hour, in article entitled, “Into the Unknown, A Few Daring Attorneys Abandon Hourly Billing for Fixed Pricing.”
- Featured in the National Lawyer’s Weekly Magazine for delivering world-class service. (Nov. 2004) “One Lawyers Take on Delivering World Class Service.”
- Featured in The Clarion-Ledger, August 26, 2000, for delivering unique “holistic” service to clients. “Lawyering the Holistic Way.”
- Featured in Lawyers USA, April 20, 1998, on “Tracking Helps Solo Define Top Referral Sources.”
Current Professional Organization Memberships and Service
- American Bar Association, thru 2009, Member of the Governing Counsel for two terms; Parliamentarian, 2008, long term member of the Publications Board, responsible for publications by the section.
- Mississippi Bar Association, member of numerous committees including Two-time Chair of the Family Law Section, Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee, Ethics Committee, Client Relations Committee, Women in the Profession Committee, Fee Dispute Resolution Committee
- Hinds County Bar Association, President, 98-99
- University of Mississippi Law School Alumni Association
- Lamar Order, University of Mississippi Law Alumni Association, Chair, 2006
Past Memberships and Service
Faculty, ABA Family Law Section Trial Advocacy Institute–a week long institute for trial training for family lawyers. (2008)
Master of the Bench in the Charles Clark American Inn of Court–an organization of leading lawyers and Judges dedicated to advancing civility and competence in the legal profession.
Vice Chair of the Supreme Court’s Gender Fairness Task Force–dedicated to evaluating gender in the legal profession and recommending improvements to the Supreme Court
Mississippi to the Children’s Justice Task Force–appointed by Governor Ronnie Musgrove to serve on task force dedicated to improving the service of the justice system to children, particularly in the areas of abuse prevention and treatment.
Past Community Involvement
- Chairman of the Jackson Urban League Board of Directors (1995-2000)
- Chairman of the Tenth Jubilee! Jam in May 1996 which featured the Olympic Torch
- Jubilee! Jam Foundation Board
- Arts Alliance Board
- United Way Board of Directors
- Opera Board
- Leadership Jackson
- Kidney Foundation Board
- University of Mississippi Law School Alumni Board
Other Interests and Accomplishments
- Black belt in Karate and kick boxing
- Veteran of the 20 years of Rugby and Rugby refereeing
- Private pilot qualified in “single engine, land”
- Weightlifting and athletic training
(published variously in The North Side Sun, The Madison County Herald, and The Enterprise Journal)
- “Mississippi Easters Make Lasting Memories.”
- “Small Town Lives Linked in Life, Death.”
- “The Wave.”
- “Dads, Make Time for Children.”
- “Rumors Can Cause a Lot of Human Pain.”
- “Gate D-1 to Mississippi.”
- “Co-parenting For The Children’s Sake” published inMetro Business Chronicle, June 2006
- “Pillow is Example of Delta’s Specialness.”
- “A Visit to Tylertown.”
- United States Supreme Court
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
- State of Mississippi, License to Practice Law
- Juris Doctor, University of Mississippi Law Center, 1978
- Bachelor of Arts, Iowa State University, 1975 (Political Science)
Specific Areas of Expertise:
- Family Law: Our firm helps families with family problems such as divorce, modification, contempt, guardianships, youth court matters, support, and paternity.
- In addition, I have expertise in law practice management, marketing, client service, and trial skills.
- Motivational and educational speaking: I present all over the United States and Canada to various groups of lawyers and bar associations on the topics of law practice management, marketing, client service, trying skills, and life and practice balance.
Honors and Awards:
- Award of Merit, Presented by the Mississippi Bar once each year in recognition of distinguished service and valuable contributions to the public and the profession as a Bar volunteer. 1996
- Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, presented by Martindale Hubbell, each year since 1998. Perfect 5.0 peer rating. According to the publishers, this publication by the World’s most respected lawyer rating service, lists only the most distinguished law practices.
- The Best Lawyers in America, 2001 to present. More than 350,000 individual evaluations are processed with the simple question, “If you had a close friend or relative who needed a (family lawyer), and you could not handle the case yourself…to whom would you refer them?”
- Mid South Super Lawyers, 2006 to present. According to the publisher, only 5% of the lawyers in a state are named. This is not a popularity contest, but ratings backed by considerable polling and peer evaluation efforts with a detailed research process on each candidate based on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. A series of safeguards is built into the database.
- Outstanding Lawyers of America, 2003 to present with only 100 selected per state.
Authorship of books:
- How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, published by the American Bar Association, Law Practice Management and Family Law Sections, 2006.
- The Constructive Divorce, published by the American Bar Association, G/P Solo Division, 2007.
- Forms, Checklists and Procedures for the Family Lawyer, to be published summer 2010 by the American Bar Association, Family Law Section.
- Dumping the Billable Hour, One Lawyer’s Experience, published by Mark A. Chinn, 2008, at www.chinnandassociates.com
- How to Capture and Keep Clients, published by the American Bar Association, G/P Solo Division, Chapter entitled, “Marketing Is Not A Dirty Word.”
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Describe your most significant professional accomplishment in detail.
Starting my own solo practice on July 1, 1988, with no money, two clients, and no significant background in Jackson. I shall never forget the day. I got up early, even though I had no appointments. I put on my finest suit, even though I had no clients to see or appearances to make. I drove by my new post office box, even though I could not have received any mail yet. I got started at 7:30 a.m.–with fear of bankruptcy in my heart–and began a journey which has blessed me beyond my dreams, and which, most importantly, has seen the help of people, known and unknown to me, who wanted to support me.
How would you describe the contribution you make to the legal community?
- Passion for service. Since I started my own firm, I have had an obsession with discovering and delivering service which meets the needs of my family law clients in ways which have never been discovered before. I am constantly listening to clients, reading, seeking coaching, observing other businesses, and learning from my mistakes in the pursuit of what I call the “perfect lost chord of service.” I am always looking for innovations in service. The latest of these is my change from billing by the hour, which places the onus for the cost of the legal service on the client, to “value pricing” which places the burden on the lawyer for performing efficiently, effectively and with unparalleled service. Much of this work resulted in my first book, How to Build and Manage a Family Law Practice, published by the ABA.
- Efficiency. In every situation I look for the most efficient and excellent way of performance. This has led to a passion for discovering systems, checklists, and procedures that will lead to efficient and excellent performance on a consistent basis in every case and irrespective of what team member is handling the matter. Our firm functions as a team. We refer to ourselves as “the team,” and we function like a Swiss clock.
- Innovation and technology. The passion for service and excellence necessarily leads one down the path towards pursuit of innovation and technology. Our firm has discovered methods of procedure and use of technology which literally allow us to perform functions in seconds which take the typical firm hours to complete. This allows us to make ourselves available to each other and to our clients on an almost 24-hour basis, and allows us to charge prices for our service which reward us for our skills and deliver certain and economical prices to the clients.
- Professionalism and Civility. Of all the areas of law, none calls more for the traditional notions of professionalism and civility as does family law. We like to say that through our work we leave a family left standing even though there may not be a marriage. This is important for the clients and critical to the future upbringing of our children. It is also important to the public’s respect for the judicial system and to the lifestyle that lawyers lead. Our commitment to these concepts has led to the publishing of my second book, The Constructive Divorce, which discusses the need for collaboration and civility, and provides practical guidelines to lawyers and clients in keeping divorce and family litigation civil.
- Service. I have enjoyed writing and speaking on all of the foregoing areas of practice. I have enjoyed sharing, through published books and countless articles and speeches, my techniques for improved law practice management, client service, and civility. I enjoy speaking and I enjoy sharing my experience with other lawyers in the hope that their lives and practices will be improved. For this, I am asked by many organizations and State Bar Associations to speak and write.
What are your most valuable personal skills or abilities?
- I care about everything I do. If I were sweeping a floor in a factory (which I have done), people are going to be able to tell Mark Chinn did that floor. Because I bring this God-(and parent-)given drive, I am able to take on people who have advantages over me in means, skill, station in life, or talent, and hang in there with them.
- I never stop seeking a better way of doing things. Many times, my wife would say, “You are doing fine, why don’t you leave it alone.” My response, “I don’t know, I just have to keep going. I feel if I don’t grow, I will die.”
- I am dependable. When I have interviewed people who have sent me business and asked why they send me business, they say, “Because we know you will take care of it.” I never want it said or thought that I didn’t keep a commitment.
- Integrity. The number one value of our firm is integrity. The most important quality a lawyer sells is that when he speaks, he is believed.
- Finally, fortitude. Never say die. Never quit. Stand with strength and integrity.
Who are your role models and why?
- First, Dwight Eisenhower. Though he was from another era, I have read and studied him. He displayed a unique combination of strength and resolve, tempered by wisdom. He had the humility to be selected to lead the free world in its worst conflict. I suspect a man of ego would never have survived the selection process or the battle. (I probably fail in that quality more than any other, but I have to be who I am.) Finally, he took aggressive action, with integrity, against all odds and had the constitution to withstand the pressure and the responsibility.
- Locally, William Winter. He is a consummate lawyer and litigator who has always treated everyone with classic southern gentility. Most importantly, he has been willing to take stances on issues even at great personal cost. Interestingly, he has succeeded greatly, even though he has gone contrary to the masses on many significant social issues.
- Robert Khayat. A man for all seasons. Athlete, scholar, musician, leader, Christian. The great encourager of generations in our times. A mentor to me, when I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why a man of his stature would care about me. For me, the mark of a truly great man.
- My Father, Rollin Jack Chinn, who lived a life of service to his country in WWII, integrity and performance of his duty to others in sacrifice of his own interests.
What do you consider your most significant personal accomplishments?
- My four daughters. They are all well behaved, studious, athletic, and well grounded Christian young women, capable of making their own way in the world. In that way, they are like their Mother, my wife of 32 years, which is not an accomplishment on my part, but it is on hers.
- Starting and maintaining my own business.
- Building two commercial buildings with little capital.
- Writing three books published by the ABA.
- Being sought after Nationally to speak and write articles on law practice.
- Obtaining a black belt in karate and kick boxing.
- Obtaining a pilot’s license.
Hobbies and Favorite Recreational Activities
- First and foremost, following my daughters in their activities which include basketball, soccer, track, cheerleading, softball and church choir
- Working out with a trainer and attending yoga class
- Christ United Methodist Church Choir
- Reading books on spirituality, business, service, performance and fitness
Characterize Yourself in One Word