Attorney Paul Cavonis with his kids Michael and Emily

Attorney Paul Cavonis’ son Michael and daughter Emily are both aspiring to follow in their father’s legal footsteps and recently interned with the firm. Michael is in his first year at Stetson University College of Law and Emily is a senior with a double major in finance and economics with a minor in legal studies at USF, St. Petersburg. According to Paul, “I’m proud that Michael and Emily want to pursue a career in the legal profession. I’ve really enjoyed my 25 years practicing law and I’m happy that they recognize how interesting and stimulating it can be. We are a very close family and what excites me the most is having the opportunity to work with them professionally. They are both very compassionate and smart. Both are well suited to the practice of law. I really look forward to seeing them grow professionally.” What advice does Paul have for them?

“Never forget that we are here to help people solve problems. Be compassionate, efficient, thorough and diligent. Always remember there are no shortcuts and no substitute for hard work.” 

Here is what Michael and Emily had to say about their interest in the law and there is no doubt these two will be compassionate, efficient, thorough and diligent:

What did you learn from your father about life as an attorney growing up?

MICHAEL: My family jokes that my father can always predict disaster and growing up I have found that he always seems to stay one step ahead. I believe this is because my father has always been a rational thinker but has trained himself to maintain clear thought processes and has developed intense observational skills. He has taught me that everyday problems can be boiled down into simple elements that become easy to grasp and can be tackled individually. Now that I have had a chance to see more of the legal world, I understand why he has developed his thought processes in this way. He tackles even the simplest of tasks like he would a case and this has led to his success both as an attorney and in everyday life. Through this, I have had a peek at what life as an attorney is like. Apart from meeting with clients and presenting in a courtroom, the majority of the day is spent in research and preparation. We sometimes poke fun at Paul for laying out overly complex itineraries on vacations or road trips, but we rarely ever encounter an issue and never lack for a plan. He has taught me that being an attorney is much the same, that with proper preparation, you can confidently walk into a courtroom knowing that you counter almost any move made by an opposing party. I have learned that being an attorney means being prepared and being prepared can sometimes require creativity and will always require hard work.

EMILY: When I was really young, all I really knew about my dad's job was that it required him to be up before the sun—I vividly remember laying in my twin bed thinking that I would never do whatever that was. Despite this, I also knew that although he was exhausted after he came home, he was always ready to get on the ground and play. As I got a little older, my mom would take me and my siblings to "bring dad lunch", and I grew to understand that he spent his days at this strange green-clad place filled with people who'd tell me I had gotten so much bigger: The Office. That was my understanding until I became a teenager and several of my friends had gotten jobs themselves. Feeling the peer pressure, I asked my dad if I, too, should get a job, and he quickly encouraged me to come to the office and see if there was anything I could do to help. This is when I realized that my dad doesn't just disappear each day in order to buy me, my brother, and my sister presents—he works incredibly hard, and the choice to be up so early was entirely his own! I think the biggest lesson I learned from my dad about being an attorney is that it should not rule your personal life. He never missed a single piano recital, soccer game, or Spelling Bee, and I can't recall a single time when I heard anything about a 'bad day at work' growing up. I think it says a lot about him that I legitimately had no idea what he did for work until I began asking questions, and he was so excited to tell me all about it when I was ready to learn.

Why are you interested in becoming an attorney?

MICHAEL: Before starting law school and despite never having been in a legal dispute, I still found myself interacting with our legal system regularly and in doing so consistently felt overwhelmed. Even interactions with basic contracts and terms of service agreements left me confused and after a semester of contracts class, I now have a basic understanding of why. Our legal system can be treacherously complex and an individual who finds themselves needing to navigate through it will likely want someone with a high degree of competence to aid them. I want to help others safely and efficiently navigate around this system so that it never seems daunting or insurmountable. Even as attorneys suffer many jokes, some of which are well deserved, they serve a vital role in a society with a highly developed legal system as understanding the law can put you in a position to both interpret it and change it for the benefit of others. A much-overlooked aspect of attorneys is the positive change they can affect and I believe this role should not be taken for granted.

EMILY: For me, I've never really doubted that I would become a lawyer—I just sort of knew. The concept of what is fair has always been really important to me, and I believe that advocating for others when they cannot do so for themselves is a very special thing. I view becoming an attorney as a way to help the people in your community while fighting for what is fair and just. I believe all of the attorneys at DHC really do make a difference in the lives of each of their clients through resolving their complex issues, and I unquestionably want to be a part of that.

 At this time, which (practice) areas of the law are you interested in so far? This may change in time.

MICHAEL: I have always seen myself practicing in the areas of elder law, especially in guardianship and long-term care planning. I believe our elderly population deserves the security and peace of mind that comes with a well-organized plan for the future. I would also like to participate in the guardian ad litem programs that my father participates in as I see the impact that they have. Having recently had an opportunity to see my father work on some civil litigation disputes, I have become more interested in potentially practicing several other areas of law. I enjoy the variety of cases I have seen my father try, and would like to someday reach a level of proficiency that allows me to successfully try a breadth of cases. The areas of practice are vast as is the potential client base. As I work through law school and observe court proceedings, I will try and narrow down what areas I believe I can best serve clients.

EMILY: While I start in law school in the fall of 2021, I'm minoring in legal studies at the University of South Florida. It seems that with each credit I take, whether it be a class on family or personal injury law or a seminar on medical malpractice, I'm convinced I've found 'the one'. Luckily for me, though, I have a few more years to be swayed one way or the other before finally deciding, but I'm definitely leaning towards medical malpractice. One thing I'm sure of, however, is that no matter in what area I practice, I will always have a strong backing in those at 'The Office', especially in my dad.

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