Most law firms are named after founders or current partners. Joshua R. Kotter, managing attorney for AVanteGarde Law, says the firm’s unique name was chosen to reflect a different kind of firm.

“Because we had come up with a new way of approaching the practice of law, we wanted a different kind of name,” Kotter said.

The firm’s website, www.mountainstateattorneys.com, lists 35 areas of practice, including but not limited to criminal defense, civil litigation, business law, labor and employment law, estate planning and health care law.

Kotter, a Billings native, has worked both in the legal profession and in health care since graduating from Case Western University where he earned both a master’s of business administration and a law degree. He worked as general legal counsel for a health care organization in Utah, then moved to Salt Lake City to open his own law firm.

After a few years, he decided to give health care another try and went to work for a hospital in rural Colorado. Then, he became chief executive officer of a hospital in rural eastern Nebraska. After resolving what he described as a long-standing problem, Kotter was again ready for a change. He and his wife decided to bring their family back to their native Billings.

“Through this experience, I learned that I am an attorney at heart and at my core,” Kotter said. “Being an attorney and practicing law is all about interacting with and helping people."

And, if he wasn’t busy enough already, Kotter has also filed to run for the Montana State Legislature as a Republican in Senate District 26.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Helping clients understand the difference between legal reality and practicality, and what is fair, just or right. Though legal clients (many of whom are parents) probably frequently explain that the world is not fair to their own children, they still nearly always approach a legal problem with the incorrect notion that the law is fair and will, or must, yield a result that they feel is fair, just and right. This simply isn’t the case. And, I understand because I’ve experienced the difficulty of overcoming filing personal bankruptcy and marching on from there.

What’s the best business advice you have received? My father said, "In the end, none of us have anything to offer, except our integrity and good name. Once those are gone, you have nothing."

One of my MBA professors said that businesses fail if they are started without enough capital investment, and success is largely a function of hard, nose-to-the-grindstone, and extremely deliberate and dutiful planning and follow through. Regarding the last point, he taught that writing out goals and detailed step-by-step plans of how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Who gave you that advice? The first advice was Rich Kotter, my father. The second best was from Richard Osborne, a business professor.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I would like to make certain important information about the law more easily, readily and affordably available to the public. This interest is not to attempt to gather private attorneys and to coerce them to provide some free legal services. Rather, I believe that some of what is desperately needed is education for youth about how to be a good citizen and how to avoid legal pitfalls.

Which living person do you most admire? Aside from the obvious (and true) answer, of my parents, I would have to say Justice John Roberts.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? This is simple. I measure success by whether I am making a difference and if I am happy. Money cannot replace these things.

 What do you consider your greatest achievement? It's yet to come. But, as for what I have achieved so far, I believe that my greatest achievement was in being able to provide for my family (by working), while I simultaneously: attended law and MBA school; served as president of two substantial legal fraternities (doubling the size of both during my tenure); worked as first chair (student) attorney in a criminal legal clinic, representing indigent clients charged with crimes; received the highest honor possible for my legal doctoral dissertation; and being engaged as a minister and teacher in my church.

I’m happiest when I’m... at home with my family.

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