Gigi King, Owner of Dakota's Document Preparation Services, has a long history in the legal document preparation business. Her professional experience goes back to 2006, but her interest in the legal world first surfaced around the age of 10. King shared her story and what she hopes to accomplish with her business.
"I was always intrigued by the law," she said. "From the age of 10, I remember wanting to work in the legal field."
After working for Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance as an office assistant, King spent two years as a legal assistant and file clerk with Bender and Bender Law Firm. In 2008, she earned her Associate of Science degree in Business from Remington College and accepted a new position with St. Michael's Legal Center for Women and Children. According to King, she did a little bit of everything while working at St. Michael's.
"I was an intake specialist," she said. "I drafted legal documents, reviewed cases when we had walk-ins, filed documents with the court, communicated with clients, opened new cases, checked the attorney's dockets for on-going activity, kept files intact and would be there with clients during attorney meetings to take notes. I was a great experience."
During King's time at Remington College, she made a big impression on a circuit judge for Hillsborough County, The Honorable Nick Nazaretian. The impression she made on him and his subsequent words of encouragement are what ultimately led King to start her business.
"He said, 'Gigi, you're one of my scholar students. I can see you doing what you're doing for St. Michael's on your own'," she said. "I was on the Dean's List and the President's List the entire time. I worked hard. That combined with Judge Nazaretian's encouragement gave me the motivation to move forward and start my own business."
Dakota's Document Preparation & Consulting Services, named after King's late father, was officially founded in August of 2010. As a full-service legal document preparation business, they offer low-cost assistance preparing legal documents for the public. They specialize in: adoptions, divorces, alimony, adoptions, power of attorney, name changes, notary, child support, modification of child support, child custody, wills, seal and expungment of criminal records, demand letters, legal letters and contracts for sale of business, early termination of probation, restoration of civil rights and motions.
When she first launched the business, King advertised her services on Facebook, in the newspaper and handed out flyers. She identified a need for those that required legal documents but couldn't afford the high attorney fees. Founded by a genuine interest in the law and a desire to help those in need, King shared some of the ways she sets herself apart from the competition.
"My prices are good, I offer same day service, I'm local and I'm very attentive with my customers," she said. "I'm also very open with them. There are no hidden fees. Most importantly, my customers are comfortable with me. They know me and they trust me. That's the number one thing. When they call back and share a testimonial it brings me so much joy. Whether it's helping them expunge a record, getting them better housing for their family, helping them through a divorce or working with them through an adoption, I give them something of value and they know they can rely on me."
Looking ahead, King is considering the possibility of a second location. She'd like to expand her reach to surrounding counties like Hillsborough and Hernando and feels it's important to have a physical presence in those counties to truly focus on the customer. The second location would be staffed with an Office Manager.
King offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Have faith and know the skills and talent you were born with," she said. "Keep evolving your skills and educating yourself. I emphasis education. My number one goal is to learn and to always refresh my skills. That's why I went back to school to get more education. I received My Bachelor's of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies from Everest University in October of 2015. Also, it's important to know that what you're doing is truly what you want to do. Have a plan in place to know where you're going and how you're going to get there. No matter what, you have to stick with it even during the hard times. Along the way, be mindful of others, do everything with integrity and always do the right thing. Lastly, get a mentor or someone to show you the right direction. It's important to have a great team around you, people you know, like and trust to help you grow the business!"