AZTEC — Aztec's latest small business opened its doors Monday, but you'd scarcely notice unless you were window shopping along Aztec's historic downtown corridor.

With his mother, Terrie, running the office, attorney T. Ryan Lane just launched his first solo practice at 103 S. Main Ave., inside the old E.C. Waring Jewelry store built in 1910.

Inside the building's front room, under a period tin ceiling, historic photographs of Main Avenue line the walls beside a wood-burning stove and an oak Plain Front telephone. It recalls a time when the now heavily trafficked road was unpaved and lined with cottonwood trees as horses trotted back and forth where oil field trucks often do today.

Attorney Ryan Lane poses for a portrait on Tuesday at his new office at 103 S. Main St. in Aztec.
Attorney Ryan Lane poses for a portrait on Tuesday at his new office at 103 S. Main St. in Aztec. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Lane, a third-generation Aztec resident, likes to study history and loves his hometown. But don't expect a more-of-the-same approach when it comes to his practice, which focuses on business law, real property, estate plans and personal injury cases.

"I'm not going to be one of those people who does things just because that's how they've always done them," said Lane, 31, an Aztec High School graduate and former state wrestling champion. "I'm not in this business to make money. I'm here to serve my community. To me, that's the essence of leadership, to serve the people -- and to see them as people, not price tags."

Lane regularly attends Calvary Chapel of Farmington and said he considers himself a Christian whose job just happens to be as a lawyer. The part of the profession he dislikes most is exorbitant attorney's fees.

"I think the legal profession, as far as the price structure, has lost touch with reality," Lane said. "We're in a changing society and economy, so rather than charging high, flat fees, we ought to ask what services are really worth."

At a recent Aztec Chamber of Commerce meeting, Lane turned some heads when he suggested that businesses focus more on giving, rather than receiving, when it comes to customers.

"I've had a few clients I've worked for and I asked them, 'What do you think my services have been worth?' and they told me. It turns out, treated well, they want you to be compensated fairly," he said. "I may go bankrupt and bussing tables, but I'm willing to take that risk."

In 2010, Lane began his private practice at the Farmington law firm of Gerding and O'Loughlin. He is also Bloomfield's city attorney and a new member of the Aztec Chamber.

Earlier this year, Lane started the Matthew Bardwell Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of an Aztec classmate who lost his battle with cancer. The nonprofit provides scholarships for graduating Aztec High students,

Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter, who coached Lane at Aztec High, said he was proud to see his former athlete return home and start his own business.

"It's a very proud moment for me because I was fortunate enough to coach Ryan. You enjoy coaching all your athletes, but Ryan was always so hard-working, always willing to help in any way he can," Carpenter said. "He's a natural leader. He says what he's going to do, and he does it. He's always been that way. He's an Aztec Tiger through and through."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.