Women In The News: Sheela Murthy leverages the web to build a $10M law firm serving immigrants

3 years ago by in Best of The Web, Mentors Unplugged

woman_entrepreneuer_Sheela_MurthyI was so frustrated by my own immigrant experience that I decided to start a website partly to make people feel empowered and respected. - Sheela Murthy

When it comes to making use of the Web, law firms generally have not been pioneers. The Murthy Law Firm, which handles immigration matters, is an exception.

Founded in 1994 by Sheela Murthy, an Indian immigrant, the firm introduced a site that provided legal information that same year. From the beginning, her strategy was to post lots of information about immigration. And today, by at least one ranking, murthy.com is the world’s most visited law firm site.

Based in Owings Mills, Md., the firm has managed this despite its modest size — more than $10 million in annual revenue and about 110 employees, 20 of whom are in India and 27 of whom are lawyers, including five nonequity partners. Ms. Murthy, 51, is the sole owner.

What got you interested in immigration law?

A. I went through hell to get my green card. The process of becoming a citizen was painful, stressful and took 12 years. I’d wake up in a cold sweat panicking about my life. I was struck by my attorney’s lack of sensitivity and how little he cared. He only called when he wanted to tell me he was raising his fees.

Q. How did your early site do that?

A. Each day, I answered about 100 questions from immigrants. It helped familiarize me with real-life issues. I also started the weekly Murthy Bulletin soon after starting the firm. It’s an e-mail newsletter, which lawyers weren’t really doing then. Today, it has about 43,000 subscribers. Around 1995, we started accepting credit card payments — another thing almost no law firms were doing. But it was the only way I could help a client in California. There was no time to wait for a check in the mail.

Read the full story on the The New York Times. 

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