Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Patino Law Firm founder Dr. Louis Patino to discuss his personal injury practice in Texas.
AALM: After attending Parker College of Chiropractic, what compelled you to become a lawyer? Was that always the plan?
LP: No, life happens. Over the course of 12 years practicing as a chiropractor I often worked with attorneys regarding my patient’s case. I would be called to testify in court regarding my clients’ injuries and subsequent care. The legal experience I gained made me want to know more and so I embarked on more schooling to become an attorney.
AALM: Tell us about your experience in the U.S. Army. How has it shaped the man you are today?
LP: I have often said that serving in the U.S. Army truly changed the trajectory of my life. As a 21-year-old, I really didn’t have the proper mindset and discipline to lead a better life. So many aspects of my life can now be credited to what I learned in the Army. Although it was a tough three years of my life with little pay, the experiences I received were priceless. I often recommend to my young clients that they should consider military service as it will instill in them discipline, honor, integrity, and self-confidence.
AALM: Tell us about any mentors you’ve worked with through your career and the best advice they shared with you.
LP: I was blessed to have worked with some of the best attorneys as a chiropractor. After I became an attorney, those mentors helped me tremendously. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was, “Take care of your clients and everything else will follow.”
AALM: Why did you decide to launch your own firm?
LP: I started being my own boss when I became a chiropractor. I could not imagine working for someone after all those years of practice. For attorneys who are younger and have not experienced having their own business, I would recommend working for a firm or the government before they decide to open their own firm. I think I would have learned things on a faster track had I worked for someone, but my experiences would not allow me to do that.
AALM: Tell us about your team and the culture you’ve built in your firm.
LP: Again, I am blessed to have an awesome and caring team that has been with me for a long time. Our culture is, “clients first.”
AALM: How is your career different today than you envisioned in law school?
LP: For me, based on my pre-law life, I kind of knew what kind of law office I wanted to have. After getting out of law school, for the most part, with some changes, I pursued my vision of a personal injury practice.
AALM: How has COVID affected your practice? What changes has it forced you to adopt?
LP: COVID has affected many aspects of the practice of law. One of the most drastic changes is that in south Texas – Hidalgo County, we have not stepped foot into the courthouse for two years. We have not had a jury trial at all since March 2020. As you can imagine, there is such a tremendous number of cases that have to be delayed until we open the courthouse. Many defendant insurance companies see this and are reluctant to settle cases for a fair and reasonable amount in hopes of delaying and paying out as little as they can. As far as new clients during COVID, we have not noticed a decline — accidents happen every day, regardless of an epidemic.
AALM: Tell us about a case that stands out as a turning point in your career or one that made an impact on you.
LP: In my first multimillion-dollar case, I helped a client who worked as a welder for a local welding company. Because of the severity of his injuries from the crash, he could no longer work and provide for his family. Shortly after we settled his case, he went on to open his own welding company that supplies services to various gas and oil suppliers. Last I heard, he and his family are thriving. This made me realize that what we do as attorneys changes lives.
AALM: What are some of your personal career goals? What’s the next milestone you’re looking to achieve?
LP: I often tell my wife that I will never retire — I may slow down, but I am not one to sit around the house and watch the grass grow. I would be content to continue my work and what I am doing now.
AALM: Tell us a little about your life outside the office.
LP: I am thankful that I have lots to do outside the office. My grandchildren keep me going. We are fortunate to have a small ranch with livestock that requires constant maintaining.
AALM: If you could go back and change anything about your career what would it be?
LP: Had I been able to afford working for the District Attorney’s office or a leading law firm, I think I would have gained some great experience without having to start out fresh to learn on my own. But really, my regrets are few and I am happy with the way things worked out.