Gichner returns to Delaware to practice law
The Norman Law Firm has recently added a new attorney to its staff. Local resident Benjamin Gichner joined the firm this past April after having graduated from the Pennsylvania State’s Dickinson School of Law.
“We’re excited to have Ben here,” said attorney Stephen Norman of the Norman Law Firm. “He worked with us a couple years ago in the summer, and I thought, if I ever had the opportunity to bring him in, that I’d jump at it. When he approached me, I pretty much offered him a position immediately, because I had been so impressed with him, both personally and professionally.”
Gichner received his undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He grew up in Ocean View and graduated in 2006 from Indian River High School, having previously attended Selbyville Middle School and Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
Gichner said he’s happy to have returned to his home to practice law.
“One of the reasons I wanted to come back here was because I’m so familiar with the area and loved growing up here. I know a lot of the community, and I think a lot of the community knows our family,” he said.
“About two years ago, I thought I wanted to get out and move to a new state… I don’t think you appreciate a place like Delaware unless you leave it for an extended amount of time and then realize how special it is. It’s great. It’s still the small community that I grew up in.”
Over the years, Gichner has worked with law firms in South Carolina, Vermont and Delaware.
“This has been the best experience so far. Everyone around here is motivated, even Lucas the dog,” he said with a laugh, referring to Norman’s dog, the office mascot.
Gichner found out he had passed Delaware’s three-day Bar Exam on Oct. 3 and will be sworn in on Dec. 11.
“Whoever drafted the questions are very good attorneys. I commend them for challenging us and am happy to say I was prepared,” he said of the exam. He said he plans to take the Maryland Bar Exam in February and will also be applying for the D.C. Bar.
Gichner said that, although being an attorney can get you a bad rap, it’s actually quite a gratifying career.
“I think it’s funny everyone always seems to have a joke about a lawyer. Everyone has something to say about a lawyer until they need one, and then all they want is the best,” he said.
“It’s rewarding. I get to meet a lot of people. Being an attorney, you not only learn your job but you also learn what a lot of other people do, because you are constantly working with police departments, courts, businesses, insurance companies, opposing counsel. You’re working with people who have all these different careers and learn how they operate.”
Gichner said he’s learning a lot from Norman and is thrilled to have joined the team.
“I’ve learned so much from Steve,” he said. “He’s really easy to get along with. He’s really personable, approachable and professional. I’m learning how to deal with opposing council with such inherent conflicts in a professional way.”
The Norman Law Firm offers services related to litigation, civil rights and real estate, including SPN title services and closings. The firm is currently in the process of getting an American Land Title Association (ALTA) Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices certification.
“That’s going to be a requirement of most real estate professionals in the next couple of years,” Norman explained. “It’s really all based on protecting the client.”
Gichner not only joins Norman, but also attorney Daniel Herr, located at the firm’s satellite office in Wilmington.
“The thing about our firm — we’re so different from most firms in this area,” said Norman. “Even though we’re based here, we do stuff all over. We do the kinds of things that nobody really thinks a firm down here would do, like federal employment and civil rights litigation.”
Gichner said that he is excited to work on civil rights, especially when it comes to cases of police brutality.
“I’ve always believed that nobody is above the law. I think that, at least in this area, there has been what seems to be a pattern, where people’s civil rights aren’t being respected as they should. That shouldn’t be,” he said. He added that he’s excited to be working with Norman.
“Steve is known as one of the top civil rights attorneys around. He realizes how prevalent this pattern is, and it shouldn’t be. It’s such a small area… I think we hope to let people know that there are people who will fight for their rights. They should be respected. They should be protected. That’s what we’re here to do.”
Gichner is currently a member of the Young Professionals division of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. He added that he hopes to be an active member of the community.
“In law school, I worked for a charitable organization called Project Share,” he explained. “I agreed to do some legal consulting for them on the side while in school, while I worked with one of my law professors. We went around to different businesses and FOE groups and VFWs.
“I drafted grant proposals, and we ended up raising over $12,000 for this company in one semester. It was great. I wish I had gotten involved earlier in that. That’s one thing I intend to do around here.”
Norman said he was impressed with Gichner’s initiative, positive attitude and work ethic when he interned at the firm in the summer of 2011.
“He has that drive to be a top attorney that I look for,” he said. “We hit it off right away. We spent a lot of time together, both inside and outside of the office, so I knew he was someone I’d want to work with.”
Recently, Norman was recognized by Delaware Today magazine as one of the best lawyers in Delaware.
“It’s a team award,” said Norman. “We have a great staff here — not only our attorneys, but our legal assistants and paralegals. It’s a team. We’re close, and we have a common goal to build this and keep both the title services and the law firm at the highest standards and be recognized as a hardworking, top law firm.”
Norman relocated to southern Delaware from Rockville, Md., where he first opened his firm in 2001.
“It’s been a big transformation,” he said of the firm. “It was a big adjustment initially, but I’ve got two young kids, and I feel this is a great place to raise kids. It’s a calm, nice place with friendly people. It really feels like home now.”
Of his practice, Norman said that he enjoys many things, especially all the people he gets to meet and working with the different real estate professionals when it comes to settlements. As for litigation, Norman said he enjoys the mental athletics aspect.
“It’s competitive, intellectually challenging,” he said. “I haven’t experienced anything else in my professional life that’s as challenging as litigation. It’s you against them. You’ve got the facts, the law and the difference you can make in establishing new facts, digging and finding dead-on law, your power of persuasion — there are so many different factors.”
Currently, the firm is accepting new clients and offers free consultations. They are also hoping to work with additional Realtors, builders and lenders on title services.
“We want to help make people feel special about their new home and be responsive to the needs of all those who we work with,” said Norman.
Norman said that the firm is more blue-collar than white-collar but believes their hallmark is the firm’s dedication to customer service and to each individual case.
“We don’t just take cases to settle and get a payday. If the case justifies an investment, we’re not afraid to do that. As far as litigation, we do whatever is necessary to win —whether that means getting expert witnesses, taking the extra deposition, working around the clock.
“Our goal isn’t to out-speak everybody or out-finesse. It’s about putting in that extra work. Our goal isn’t to be the best law firm here in Sussex County; our goal is to be the best law firm anywhere. That’s really our goal. That’s what we try to do.”
The Norman Law Firm is located at 30838 Vines Creek Road, Unit 3, near Dagsboro. For more information, call (302) 537-3788 or visit www.thenormanlawfirm.com.