By Thomas M. Bona.
“From Where I Sit” is an insider’s conversation with Jeffrey Miller, Esq. Jeff is executive partner at Pillinger Miller Tarallo, LLP and one of its founding partners. He is a trusted expert who has the answers to the questions that people ask.
In a word, how would you describe this past year?
Humbling. One moment, everybody was going about life naturally, and in one short breath and a blink of an eye, the world changed. Just seeing how many people have been suffering. I hope we appreciate the importance of our health, wellbeing, physical, and mental wellness. It is just very humbling.
What has been most challenging about it?
I think the interaction, the loss of personally seeing our friends, family, and clients. Through this pandemic, I have had to be extremely careful with those I came into contact with because my father is 88. On the business side, it took some getting used to remote access. But the firm was ahead of the curve. We made the right decisions early on to invest in our IT and office technology so that all PMT members could safely work remotely. We made sure our entire PMT family and our business partners could weather these past nine months. Also, we have kept our full family of employees and partners employed through this challenging period.
What has most impressed you during this period?
The compassion of people. I have not seen anything like it since 911. It is the true human spirit of wanting to help each other. It has been a divisive year. But, looking at the glass half full, I saw a tremendous amount of inclusion and partnership from many people making actual changes in this world to help others. That is what most impressed me.
Regarding the firm, the whole firm, everybody, the attorneys, the paralegals, the secretary, the administrative people, everybody who worked in our offices, everybody stepped up. Everyone did what they needed to do. Whether it was remotely or in person, some people ran into the office to take temperatures or deal with financial banking issues or work remotely to handle any problems. The whole firm stepped up, adapted to the challenges, and kept to their commitment to each other and our clients. In short, the firm moved forward in a synchronistic way, which has made us stronger, and that I am very proud of.
How have you focused on teamwork when everyone is working mostly remotely, and personal contact is so limited.
First and foremost, we focused on safety. We have been ahead of the curve from the very beginning. We shut down and went remote before any other offices that I was aware of. Thanks to our technology and IT partners, we have performed countless zoom meetings, Microsoft team meetings, webinars, and maintained an open communication line with each other.
As a team, we have encouraged each other through emails and positive shout outs of things that were going on personally and professionally. We never stopped our daily three o’clock roundtable meetings where a core group of attorneys hears, discusses, and continues to evaluate cases. We continue to mediate cases and resolve cases for our clients. We have participated in outdoor meetings for clients. We sat outdoors with masks at a distance and conducted business to ensure that we are doing everything we can for our clients to move forward.
How has PMT been able to grow this year?
Our communication with our clients is paramount. We have become faster at responding to our clients. We are known for our responsiveness and we live by a 24 hour must contact rule. It is similar to when we are in an emergency response mode, and we appear on the scene for a construction accident or a trucking accident, or an environmental occurrence. Through Zoom and Microsoft Teams technology, we have increased our ability to reach our clients even quicker. They feel as though we are sitting in the room with them and handling their questions and concerns.
The firm’s best advertisement is a timely report, the proper evaluation, and a resolved case. Our reporting, guideline compliance, and responsiveness have increased. Through this pandemic, we are utilizing our experience, resources and relationships with the plaintiff’s bar, who are also looking to resolve cases at this point. We have held and continue to hold countless mediations and direct negotiations. We have resolved a tremendous number of cases for our clients during this pandemic and we know the word has spread about PMT.
The news of our mediation results and the number of files we are closing is strengthening our reputation. Even during this pandemic, clients who have left their current positions with carriers and moved on have become an excellent source of new business for us. It’s an existing, satisfied, happy client who goes to another entity and wants to continue to do business with us.
Some firms have had to let go and furlough many of their attorneys, legal secretaries, and paralegals. But PMT has carefully and meticulously analyzed our new hires. We have some great new talent we hired just before the pandemic and throughout the pandemic. PMT has grown. We have increased our team, our bench depth, and our capabilities as a firm.
What challenges do you see going forward for the firm?
We focus on finding the right people and growing that talent into leadership roles. We have excellent mentoring, hiring, and education systems at our firm. We have law interns who are now associates. Also, we spotlight diversity at the firm and have a diversity committee that promotes growing the firm more diversely. So, talent is always a challenge, but we have the right systems in place to meet that challenge.
Technology will continue to grow in our industry, and we will meet it head-on by making the right decisions to move us forward. It is a considerable asset to the firm’s growth and ability to serve our clients. Pillinger Miller Tarallo has seen tremendous growth over the past 19 years. Our steady success continues to lead us to expand our footprint beyond our ten offices and four states. By utilizing our proven model, the quality of our PMT work and reputation, we have our sights fixed on Florida and partnering with the right people. Currently, several PMT attorneys are admitted in Florida and others are taking the bar in Florida. It is an exciting time for the firm as we continue to expand on our success.
Final question, what are your thoughts on 2021?
I see life as a glass more than a half-full person. I am beyond optimistic. I believe we have a great 2021 ahead. I think this personally, professionally for the firm, for our members, and our families. It has been a tough year for many people and on many levels. We have a few rough months ahead of us, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine is here and will eventually make it to everyone who wants it. It is the beginning of the end. Things will change, and we are going to get back to some normalcy. I cannot wait for it.
I am looking forward to our charity golf outing, rooftop get-togethers, events and seeing all of those people again face-to-face in a safe fashion. 2021 is going to be a tremendously significant year.
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