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While there are people in every type of business who think stepping on others is the best way to climb the ladder, attorney Jonathan Whitcomb takes the opposite approach.
“During my life, I saw that the people who were most successful were almost always principled people,” he said. “I found that a great many of them shared the same principled structure of integrity: treating people with respect and saying and doing what they mean.”
Whitcomb’s ethical code goes back to his upbringing and his time as an Eagle Scout, but his optimism springs from the more difficult periods of his life.
“A lot of the things in my career that seemed negative at the time ultimately led to a positive,” he said. “Just because situations don’t work out exactly the way you want them to, doesn’t mean that veering off the course you set won’t take you to a better place.”
For Jonathan Whitcomb, that better place turned out to be his own firm: Whitcomb Legatus PLLC in Washington, DC. The firm specializes in helping clients involved in the investment management industry, while also doing advisory work on the business side through a sister company, The Argentarii Group.
“It’s not about the money so much as it is the nature of the work. If the excellence is there, the money will come.”
Whitcomb developed his interest in finance, investment management, and investment banking when he was still an undergrad at Davidson College in North Carolina.
“Even though I didn’t know about any of it before college, it suddenly just seemed like who I was,” he said. “It seemed like investment banking and finance worked the way my mind worked.”
After college, Whitcomb decided law school at the University of Miami was the next step, but he certainly didn’t make the decision to go into law, or specialize in investment banking, because it was easy.
“I’d rather do work that is more challenging, even if the comp is the same as easier work. This is a business that I get to work with truly exceptional people. Lawyers work behind the scenes to help businesses, but it’s the investment bankers and businesspeople who actually drive the work.
“There is no reason that a lawyer can’t be a complete advisor,” Whitcomb said. “A commercial litigator will face myriad issues over the course of a career. I was inspired to do this kind of work by people who were multi-faceted.”
“It’s more meaningful to work with the clients I want, to develop the people around me.”
Financial services, and in particular investment management, are known as very competitive, results-oriented businesses, but Whitcomb is intent on working with clients who share his approach in life.
“Investment management clients have an ethical baseline and it makes them ideal clients for me,” he said. “The first section of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 exam is all about ethics.
“I have to live within a certain ethical construct. I can’t do something for a client if it conflicts with my ethics.
“It’s not our goal to be a mega-firm. We advertise ourselves as providing large firm representation in a boutique setting.”
Going your own in the legal world isn’t always easy, but for someone with strong convictions like Jonathan Whitcomb, sometimes it’s the only way to follow your heart.