Trenam president and managing shareholder, Marie Tomassi, was featured in a Q&A published on Law.com’s Mid-Market PRO and Daily Business Review on August 16, 2022 as part of the publication’s series of profiling national mid-size firms and their leaders. Throughout the Q&A, Tomassi discussed the firm’s busy practice areas opportunities for future success and how the firm’s culture has helped Trenam succeed in a competitive legal market.
In highlighting the firm’s broad experience serving a variety of areas in commercial law, Tomassi highlighted how the current market has driven client needs and, subsequently, Trenam’s recent recruitment strategy. “In the current landscape, our business transactions practice is extraordinarily busy, which speaks to both the market and to our attorneys’ reputations given that clients are seeking them out,” Tomassi said. “Real estate also is extremely active, which is a byproduct of the continued (and maybe more intensified) development in downtown St. Pete and downtown Tampa, as well as throughout the state.”
While the transactional groups remain busy, the firm’s breadth of experience also helps to address various intersections of client need. “For example, with the business transactions team so active with mergers and acquisitions, individuals at those companies are benefitting financially from sales and need counsel related to financial and estate planning, which takes them to our private client services practice,” Tomassi said. “Or a buyer may need to consult with an employment attorney after a change of ownership to address new agreements, etc.”
Speaking to the firm’s opportunities going forward, Tomassi highlighted the firm’s continued focus on growth, which has yielded an 11% attorney headcount increase since 2020. “We’ve had a lot of recent success recruiting top-level talent at the associate and shareholder levels as we have grown at a very encouraging pace. We want to keep growing to further deepen our bench and grow our teams,” she said. “Related to that, the second great opportunity we have is to continue broadening our areas of service for our clients. For example, we are developing a team with a full and robust understanding of cryptocurrency. In addition to addressing clients’ growing curiosity in this area, our younger generation of lawyers who are fascinated by this has been empowered to dig into the crypto space by starting a committee to develop service offerings in this area, which I thought was a great idea.”
Acknowledging that the “battle for talent” in the legal industry is as competitive as ever, Tomassi notes that the firm has been encouraged by its ability to attract great attorneys to Trenam in the hot lateral market to date. “But we understand that we have to continue the work to maintain our excellent culture and other aspects of our firm to remain a highly attractive firm where skilled and respected attorneys want to work. We tell laterals to ‘come spend some time with us’ and see that we actually like each other, fostering a supportive team environment that is indispensable in attracting and retaining the attorneys that have made us successful on behalf of our clients.
“Our team is a close-knit work family that rushes to each other’s aid and supports personal and professional interests,” Tomassi said. “Beyond the collaborative teamwork, you would hope to find at a law firm, we are there for each other’s personal well-being: wedding and baby showers, help during family illnesses or deaths, celebrating children’s milestones, and so on.” In the competitive talent market, Tomassi says the advantage the firm has is that “we care deeply and genuinely about the individuals who work here and who we are recruiting. We spend a lot of time mentoring and training attorneys from the get-go. We’re a business and want to be profitable, but we also truly like each other and want to help our team members grow their skills and foster client relationships. We’re a work family. We’re a team. And that means we’re going to try to help everybody advance.”
Trenam’s shareholders understand their responsibility to nurture, train and mentor the youngest associates and to help them develop. “That’s how you sustain a midsize firm into the future,” she said. “You need to have great attorneys coming up behind the experienced shareholders. Our cultural advantage helps us with that, and we consistently have excellent attorneys rising up through the ranks of the firm, including diverse leadership – particularly as it relates to women. In addition to my role as president and managing shareholder, we are proud to have several talented women in the highest positions of leadership at our firm including Lara Fernandez on our executive board, Sharon Ellwood as our COO, Lori Rabinowitz as our chief marketing and business development officer and 50% of our practice group leaders being women.”
Similarly, the Trenam’s culture has helped it succeed as large, national firms bring new competition to Tampa “because of our deep roots in the community, extremely longstanding clients, commitment to teamwork and each other, and our overall culture.” She added that the firm often gets work that could easily go to big firms in Florida and otherwise. “We’ve closed some huge deals in the last two years that might have traditionally gone to a bigger, national firm, but clients turn to us because they trust us and because we provide the same quality service and work product at a more reasonable price.”
Finally, Tomassi discussed the firm’s forward-looking approach to investing in technology, which set it up for success ahead of the move to remote working and has had significant benefits for recruiting and client service. “For recruiting, we can now look more widely to hire people,” she said. “Rather than recruiting only local attorneys or staff, we are hiring people from several different states now. We like the idea of looking for people in other states because all they have to do is pass the Florida Bar exam, and we’ve found a lot of people have already done that and moved here from other regions.”
Tomassi also noted that flexibility offers benefits to a more seamless client service experience and improves attorneys’ lives and work-life balance. “Working parents and caregivers are better able to take care of their family needs while not missing a beat when it comes to their client needs.”
For the full Q&A profile, please click here.