The original Epsten & Grinnell law firm began business in December of 1987. Jon Epsten had worked in property management, and saw community association law as a relatively new field offering an opportunity to participate in the growth of a still developing body of law. Doug Grinnell had served as a trial attorney in the Judge Advocate General Corps in the Navy, and had also worked in the San Diego Office of Hyatt & Rhoads, founded by Wayne Hyatt, the dean of community association lawyers. Together, Jon and Doug sought to fulfill a growing need as the number of community associations rapidly increased.
But there was much more. Jon and Doug recognized that serving the needs of community associations would mean more than just dealing with barking dogs and noisy neighbors. Associations would need help adapting their governing documents to their own specific needs; developers would need to pay for leaking roofs and cracked slabs; financial issues would need to be addressed, such as ensuring a constant flow of assessment income; architectural committees would need procedures that assured the membership of fair, consistent treatment while maintaining the aesthetic characteristics of the community; and, virtually every Association would need to ensure its rules were fairly and uniformly enforced. Legal advice on these and a multitude of other issues would need to be provided by a team of lawyers knowledgeable in a number of disciplines, all at a fair and reasonable cost.
As the firm grew, shareholders were added. Mary Howell had operated her own firm in the community association field. Tom Gatlin was experienced in both property management and the laws applicable to community associations. Sue Hawks McClintic had a background in creating common interest developments and drafting governing documents. Kieran Purcell began his attorney career with the firm, providing community association counsel and deveoping a particular niche for handling contract and reconstruction matters.