Legal Legend Patricia Lebow

Patricia Lebow

Passing on Lessons Learned

By Rachel Brooks

We had the opportunity to sit down with Patricia Lebow, managing partner of the West Palm Beach office of Broad and Cassel, to discuss her career and her advice for those wishing to follow in her footsteps.

AALM: Who are some of your legal heroes? How do you seek to emulate them?
Lebow: The first, in order of the timeline of my career, is Neil Chonin who gave me my first job as a law clerk while I was a second year law student at a time when it was fairly impossible for a female to get a job as a law clerk. Neil is a superb trial lawyer and he is my legal hero because he treated everyone in the same way regardless of economic status, gender or ethnicity. He taught me that there is no substitute for being prepared and for standing up for what is right. My second legal hero is Sid Stubbs. I learned the importance of outsidethe- box thinking and goal orientation in handling legal problems for clients. Sid and Neil never let their egos get in the way of their client goals. They have the ultimate respect for the profession and from their dedication have earned the respect of their peers.

AALM: What advice have you given to those you have mentored through the years?
Lebow: My advice has been fairly consistent with the lawyers that I have had an opportunity to work with through the years. First, there is no substitute for hard work. You cannot cut corners on the time you need to prepare. Second, as a litigator, you need to live a case. You need to go to the scene of an accident or visit the inside of a building that is the subject of a construction defects claim. The best training for a transactional lawyer is some experience in litigation so they can better understand drafting pitfalls and what happens to documents in the real world. I always mentor young lawyers to be careful and double-check their work product. Also, I emphasize that they need to get up from their desk and meet with clients, potential clients, professional advisers and community leaders. I encourage them to get involved in an organization and demonstrate their talent by becoming a leader in that organization and community.

AALM: What traits most aided you in your role as a managing partner?
Lebow: The single most important trait that a managing partner should possess is an innate sense of fairness, which cannot be learned. You either have it or you don’t. If you do not, chances are you will not be a managing partner for long. Additionally, in order to be successful as a managing partner you must be willing to work harder than those whom you manage; you need to be able to look at issues from the perspective of others who may disagree with you; continually balance competing interests; persevere; know how to prioritize; be highly organized; maintain a positive attitude; mentor to instill a strong work ethic and community mindedness in your partners and employees; and keep a sense of humor. Above all, keep your focus on the client, the client goals, the client deadlines, the client budget and our overall service as professionals to the client. The client must always be paramount.

AALM: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Lebow: As I reflect on my career and the honor of being designated a Legal Legend, I realize that, at the foundation of my career, are the values which I absorbed from my legal heroes and passed on to those whom I mentored while relying on those same values to achieve my goals of being successful as both a lawyer and a managing partner.