From Timothy Pavone to Attorney Timothy Pavone: My Takeaway, Considerations, and Observations After Opening a New Law Firm
After a few signatures and registrations, I now have a business, new job title, and new life. Of course, I still like to train my dog, play golf, make new friends, go to local breweries, and try new hobbies. But now, all of my favorite activities are not my priorities, and the practice of law is. After all, the state of North Carolina allows me to classify my business as a PLLC, a “professional” business. That title should mean a lot to you and you should take that responsibility seriously.
You might be reading this article with similar circumstances or dreams that are coming your way too. And just like starting anything new in life, you’re going to have a new learning curve. How you handle that learning curve is going to dictate your entire life. 40 + years you might be putting into a new field. Patience and learning is going to make you who you want to become.
I don’t walk around like I’m King attorney. I’m not. I am extremely honest with my clients and I don’t say anything to “just sound good” in front of them. You’re not allowed to do that. Rule 2.1 talks about how I’m not your not just an attorney but you’re a counselor and adviser. This business is not like other businesses. It must be a safe and fair place for clients to come to. There must be a balance between representing your business as a good place to come, while managing your clients expectations.
My bar exam thoughts are now business thoughts. Every day, now, my thoughts are circled around building a business and continuing to grow as an attorney. And I just can’t grow anyway I want to anymore. After I put my right hand on the bible in front of the judge, my actions, as you can see, must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct of North Carolina. That means every day I have to live by a set of rules, while trying to conduct and grow a business.
Calendar alerts, itemizations for my accountant, learning how to organize my digital and paper files, being available for business during operating hours, and giving advice comes all at once. My vision is now becoming a successful business owner and an amazing attorney. I have to be organized and prepared for anything that comes my way.
I like to think I’m getting off to a good start. I ask other attorneys questions. I email diligently. I treat clients how I would want to be treated. Rule 1.1 is your best friend when you start. Don’t be scared to go up to an attorney in the court house. Don’t be afraid to call another attorney and ask for help. You can do anything you want. But you must try and learn as much as you can in the beginning so you can start to understand how to grow.
I try and talk to new attorneys every day and become friends with them. They have been doing it for a long time. It’s like learning how to ride a bike. You have to ask someone who knows how to do it. You could read a book and learn how, but physically getting on that bike and learning yourself is of-course your best way to learn how to do it.
What I’ve noticed from business so far is most of my clients problems have been solved quickly. Someone has a problem, I meet with them and figure out what THEY WANT to do and try and guide them toward a resolution. Your client is now on your team. You’re the leader and you work for your clients now and their problems or goals are now your problems and goals.
Talk to all of my clients so far. They have had a great experience. I am so happy to be practicing as an attorney. A year from now, five years from now, ten years from now, my life not only will be so different but it will be so much better. I look forward to working in the community for a long time to come.