Marie Tomassi was appointed managing shareholder of Trenam Law in September 2013. Marie joined the firm in 1988 and has been a shareholder since 1995. Marie maintains her practice as a Florida Bar Board Certified Attorney in Appellate Law and has more than 25 years of experience in ERISA litigation and other complex matters.
Amy Drushal (AD): What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?
Marie Tomassi (MT): Most likely I would have pursued something to do with psychology because I found this area of study fascinating both in high school and college. Or perhaps I would have become an author (I love to read fiction), or a travel guru (I’m sure you guessed—I love to travel!).
AD: Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader. Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
MT: Hal Mullis, the president of Trenam Law, is and has been the quintessential role model of a firm leader. Throughout the many years that Hal had more of a managing role than he does now, I watched him lead with modesty, integrity, and a firm hand that felt like a silk glove. He treated (and still treats) everyone with respect and courtesy, and taught me that often being a good listener is more important than speaking. His dedication and loyalty to Trenam are inspiring.
AD: What advice would you give a new managing partner?
MT: Be authentic. If you are not a larger than life personality, don’t try to act like one. If you are quietly confident, that’s fine. Being genuine and open will forge bonds with your team. Also, surround yourself with a few trusted advisors, people who will act as a sounding board for your ideas and who will not hesitate to give you honest feedback.
AD: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
MT: Integrity. People need to believe in your words and actions.
AD: What is the biggest challenge facing law firms today?
MT: The biggest challenge facing law firms today is cultural resistance to change. Today’s legal market requires new approaches to providing legal services to clients, and to internal operating structures. But lawyers are, by nature, skeptical and cynical. We also are trained to respect and maybe even honor precedent. These characteristics make lawyers very resistant to change, which makes driving meaningful change quite challenging.
About the Author
Amy L. Drushal is a shareholder in Trenam Law in Tampa, FL, and is the associate editor of Law Practice Today. Contact her at 813.227.7463 or ADrushal@trenam.com.