MATTHEWS – Dec. 12 marked a day of major professional milestones for Kimberly Gossage.
She attended the Matthews Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday gala, where the attorney presided over the group for the first time as president of its board of directors. The chamber also recognized Gossage as Business Person of the Year.
Since she and her business partner, Jennefer Garrity, launched Garrity & Gossage LLP in 2006, the attorneys have served on the board of directors for the chamber, Matthews HELP Center, COS Kids and charities that support senior citizens.
“We want to be approachable,” Gossage said.
That philosophy extends to their law office, which is a historic home a few doors down from the Reid House on West John Street. You won’t see any marble columns or smell mahogany inside, but you may notice rescue cats Gigi and Phoebe or maybe even a three-legged pit bull named Roz
Gossage said they’ve seen a lot of growth in downtown Matthews over the past 14 years, but it still has small-town appeal. You can still find familiar faces walking down the street or popping into a restaurant.
Garrity & Gossage specializes in estate planning, probate, guardianship and Medicaid.
Being the oldest of three children in a single-parent household, Gossage had to grow up fast when her mother died at age 46. The college student was executor of her mother’s estate and legal guardian to aging relatives.
Gossage learned to navigate the legal system with the help of an attorney. He would give Gossage a to-do list of legal tasks to accomplish over the course of the week without charging her.
Working with that attorney, she realized that understanding the law was within reach. She actually enjoyed it.
“That gentleman made a difference in my life,” Gossage said. “I wanted to do the same for someone else.”
After graduating from law school in 1998, Gossage began her career doing insurance defense litigation. She worked for three firms over seven years, meeting Garrity at the last firm.
They realized they had taken the same Legal Clinic for the Elderly at Wake Forest University School of Law and noticed how there weren’t any firms in the area focused on elder law.
They eventually launched their venture, which was empowering yet scary. Not only did they venture into a new specialty, but they also abandoned the partnership track at a larger firm and gave up things attorneys take for granted, such as health benefits.
“Making that transition from being a lawyer to being a business owner was fun and exciting but obviously represented its own challenges,” Gossage said.
They had to learn a new set of business skills, such as accounting, human resources and marketing.
Surviving the recession was big for the firm. Gossage is also proud of the firm earning recognition from the North Carolina Bar Association in 2017 for its pro bono work.
Gossage recently achieved a more personal milestone. She unplugged from work for a month to explore the Canadian Rockies. It had been her first vacation in years. Staff encouraged her to go and kept everything running smoothly while she was away.
Despite experiencing a blizzard that dropped four feet of snow, she had a blast. She plans on continuing her travels next year.
Gossage speaks from experience when she tells budding business owners to be brave and just jump to that next opportunity.
“You’re the only one who can do it,” she says. “Sitting around complaining about things not happening does not change a thing.”