In the world of law, where arguments are painted with words and cases crafted like intricate works of art, there exists an accomplished attorney whose journey into the legal arena is as unconventional as it is captivating. Picture this, a young man, once a budding graphic designer, employed by a prominent greeting card company, navigating the colorful realms of creativity and expression. Yet, beneath the vibrant hues of intricately delineated illustrations, Paul Eza found himself yearning for a canvas more profound, a tapestry woven with the threads of justice and the brushstrokes of opportunity to help his fellow man.
In the confines of his graphic design studio, Eza faced the monotony of the “assembly line” routine, where every stroke of the pen felt more like a choreographed dance than an act of creative liberation.
“It was fine,” says Eza. “It certainly wasn’t a dream job, but it was OK. I was working my way up into lower management in my 20s, which isn’t too bad. But I was bored. And I was at a point in my life where it was a good time to make a change so I looked at my options and thought about what I might like to do.
“One of the things I was considering was education,” he continues. “I thought I would enjoy teaching. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. But I also realized that if I got a masters in education, and didn’t like teaching there wasn’t a whole lot more I could do with that degree. On the other hand, I was fascinated by law – especially the academic aspects – and I knew that at least with a law degree there was some versatility. So, that’s how I ended up going to law school.”
This decision was reinforced when Eza began studying at Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law. There he continued to lead the pack with stellar grades and accomplishments, including being inducted into the Moot Court Honor Society and becoming a mock trial coach for the LEAP Program. Graduation meant facing the prospect of finding a position that would match both his skills and interests.
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Eza discovered that the job market there was particularly sparce. However, there was an ideal position waiting for him in Miami where he joined the State’s Attorney Office. The move to Miami was auspicious not only because he could enjoy sun filled winters and a plethora of outdoor activities, but it was also where he would meet the woman who was to become his wife.
“Making that move was so much better than I could have hoped,” he says. “I met my wife shortly after moving there. She was just starting her second year of medical school and I think part of the reason it worked so well for us was that it was important to her that whoever she was seeing would have to understand how important school was. Having just gone through three years of law school, I fully appreciated exactly how that felt. Besides I was just beginning my job with the State Attorney’s Office, so my days were pretty full as well.”
Both his career and romance bloomed, and in 2012, one week after his bride-to-be, Constance Katsafanas graduated from medical school, the two were married. It seemed the stars were aligned because as Constance was headed to Jacksonville to begin her residency, Eza joined an insurance defense firm that transferred him to its Jacksonville office.
Over the next 11 years, Eza worked as a trial attorney for multiple firms, gaining extensive experience and subject-matter expertise while fostering professional relationships with other attorneys on both sides of the aisle. Then he had another epiphany, realizing that litigation and trials were not where his heart was. Over the years, he says he most enjoyed the mediation aspects of his job and that he had become adept at crafting solutions that not only served his clients but that met the needs of opposing parties as well.
It was time to make another bold move.
Eza’s journey into the legal profession was built on a strong sense of justice and a desire to make a difference in people’s lives. His deep-rooted commitment to helping others find peaceful solutions to their disputes led him to making what is perhaps the most important decision of his life and, in turn, offering litigants in Jacksonville and throughout Florida a thoughtful and constructive way to resolve disputes without setting foot in a courtroom or incurring those expenses.
Driven by his vision for a more harmonious legal system, Eza decided to pursue mediation as a career path. With extensive experience in mediation techniques, conflict resolution, and negotiations strategies coupled with his years of litigating high-profile cases, Eza took the brave step of opening his own mediation firm.
Aptly named Eza Mediation LLC, the firm specializes in a wide range of mediation areas including personal injury, slip and falls, first party property, uninsured/underinsured motorist, construction defect, breach of contract, defamation, and more. Bolstered by his reputation for integrity and fairness, Eza began building his client list with referrals coming from attorneys he had met throughout his career.
“I’ve been fortunate throughout my career, first in Miami and since then here in Jacksonville, to have made some great contacts and developed strong relationships with attorneys on both sides of the aisle,” he says. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many of them, upon learning of my new endeavor, have trusted my work and referred clients to me.”
The world of mediation in Jacksonville is filled with numerous firms, many of which have been established for many years. Breaking in with a new business is always a challenge, but Eza found immediate success by simply presenting himself and his skills in a forthcoming way.
“I try to present myself in a very authentic way,” he says. “I think that’s important for anyone in any aspect of the law, but with mediation in particular because you know the attorneys involved, but I might not know the adjusters and most likely don’t know the plaintiff. This might be the one and only time I meet many of them, so I have to be able to develop that trust in a very short period of time so that they are comfortable talking to me and willing to listen, not just to me, but to whatever the other side has to say. Everyone has a different style and personality, and while I feel I was reasonably good as a trial attorney you were never going to see me on the cover of Trial Attorney Magazine. I was not a boisterous or flamboyant litigator, a showman type. That’s just not my style. I would describe myself as low-key and focused on just getting to the facts and finding a resolution.”
Slipping easily into a role that feels custom made for him, Eza’s vision is to create an environment where individuals and organizations can come together, share their perspectives, and work toward resolutions that satisfy all parties involved.
“I really like trying to help people get over that hump,” he says. “Whatever those one or two issues are that have been holding up the settlement. It can be very satisfying to know these are issues going into it and being able to help both sides in their own way and own time get around to a reasonable solution.”
Although launching a new business is certainly time consuming and Eza is known for his devotion to his clients, he still finds time to enjoy his family. His wife, who is now the program director of the neurology residency at University of Florida-Jacksonville, faces the same challenges trying to balance career and family, but it’s a task they both are becoming experts at now that they have their 3-year-old son, Vasilis, to consider. The family takes advantage of the numerous outdoor opportunities and are actively involved in their local community. They also travel whenever they are able, including trips to comic book conventions across the country in order to support Constance’s side job managing comic book writers and artists.
“Jacksonville has been very good to us,” says Eza. “We love our community and have many friends who have helped make this truly feel like home.”
As he continues to grow Eza Mediation, the future looks bright, and the artist turned litigator turned mediator says he finally feels like he’s found his place where he can plant roots and bloom.