Attorney at Law Magazine publisher Thomas Brady sat down with Patrick Krechowski of Jimerson Birr to discuss his career and his plans for the future in this month’s Attorney Spotlight.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
KRECHOWSKI: Law school was an afterthought for me. I had never considered being a lawyer. As a kid, I wanted to be James Herriot – the country veterinarian from Yorkshire. But I couldn’t handle the science in college. I changed majors a few times and ended up with a degree in criminal justice because I found the classes interesting. Nearing graduation, I had no idea what to do with an undergrad degree in criminal justice, so I went to law school.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way?
KRECHOWSKI: My first job out of law school was with the State of Florida, Office of the Attorney General. My office handled criminal appeals litigation on behalf of the state. I had an office full of mentors – teaching me how to focus my research and examine the law. This is where I learned how to write. For a fresh lawyer that was eager to learn, I’m not sure there was a better way to start.
AALM: What was the greatest lesson you learned in law school? How do you apply that to your career today?
KRECHOWSKI: The greatest lesson I learned in law school was to walk out of the building and try to put what I was learning into practice. Summer legal jobs, internships, volunteer legal work, etc. I learned so much more from trying to practice law than I ever did from studying law. And while I was an adjunct law professor, I taught that practical lesson to students as well. Practice skills and advocacy.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
KRECHOWSKI: I am a firm believer that you learn the most from your mistakes and failures if you are willing to set aside your sometimes bruised ego. We all make mistakes, we all feel embarrassed or inadequate at times. But if you can step back and analyze those situations, they can be invaluable life and career lessons.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice?
KRECHOWSKI: I love helping people navigate their problems to a successful conclusion. So many clients come to me frustrated or angry or ready to give up. I love taking their challenging situations and unraveling them. There’s nothing much better than getting a client a result they never thought they would realize.
I SOLVE OTHER PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS AS PART OF MY JOB.”
AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice?
KRECHOWSKI: I tell my kids that I “solve other people’s problems” as part of my job. And sometimes that’s how I approach it. But often, my clients’ problems become mine, and that can lead to stress, anxiety and frustration. It can be hard to leave those emotions in the office and not bring them home with you in the evening or on weekends. Breaking away from constantly being accessible and available to my clients is also a big challenge.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm?
KRECHOWSKI: At the time I joined Jimerson Birr, it had 12 attorneys. I left a firm with 300+ attorneys. I was really attracted to Jimerson Birr’s team atmosphere, combined with the voice and influence I was going to have at a small firm that is looking to grow. I sought a place that was going to be purposeful and strategic in its growth. Sharing work, sharing ideas, sharing struggles and victories in a meaningful way with like-minded attorneys. That’s what I wanted.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of the firm?
KRECHOWSKI: I’m relatively new, so I’m still learning the culture, but this firm prides itself on top-quality work and diligent representation of its clients. We work hard and we work with purpose. We are driven for results. But we also have time for each other, for fun and engagement as an office. It feels good to walk into this office, roll up your sleeves and get after it.
AALM: Tell us about your fellow attorneys at the firm? How do you work together?
KRECHOWSKI: We have some of the typical structure of other firms – committees, lunch & learns, etc. But we also have more informal ways of working together. Attorneys bounce ideas off each other, share the latest rulings or developments in particular areas of the law, and of course, we share the lessons learned in our victories and defeats.
AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice?
KRECHOWSKI: I can’t point to one single case. Every matter I’ve ever handled has been important. Some of the most basic cases allow you to explore the foundations of your practice. Some of the most complicated cases make you face your own limits as an attorney. Also, what a client brings to you is just as important as what the “case” may present. I try to never lose sight of what my client’s goals are or should be when handling a case. Getting lost in the battle or the law can sometimes be very disadvantageous to your client.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
KRECHOWSKI: I’m proud of my public service as an attorney. I’ve served in numerous roles for state agencies and local governments and I have enjoyed learning from those experiences and contributing to the success of those groups. I believe that comes from my parents – my father was a career Air Force pilot and my mother was a career teacher. Serving your community and its needs was an early lesson of mine.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
KRECHOWSKI: I have two children and we live near the beach so that is really our “backyard.” We love the beach and the surrounding community. Biking, running, swimming, fishing, surfing – all of those things. I am a rabid Seminole and Red Sox fan.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
KRECHOWSKI: I hope to continue growing my practice and my areas of strength and expertise. Even after 20 years of practicing I really enjoy being presented with new challenges and opportunities. Growth is something that I am always aware of and striving for. In 10 years, I hope to still be working with amazing people and for even more amazing clients!
AALM: What events are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
KRECHOWSKI: I didn’t eat a single French fry in 2018 – so 2019 can only be an improvement.
AALM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
KRECHOWSKI: If you’re a fan of My Morning Jacket, I’ll see you at Red Rocks in August.