This week on the Legally Speaking Podcast, our host Rob Hanna is joined by Timothy Parlatore. Tim is a former military veteran and now the Founder & Managing Director of Parlatore Law Group. Tim based in New York runs a successful nationwide cloud-based law firm. His practice is focused on white-collar defence, investigations, and civil litigation. An imposing advocate, both in and out of the courtroom, Tim has successfully handled a myriad of complex criminal and civil cases across many jurisdictions. Tim has proved time and again that he performs best under pressure and in high-profile cases.
The mission of his firm is simple they wish to provide their clients with the highest quality legal services at a reasonable rate. They do this by removing all the barriers, bureaucracy and bloated overhead costs associated with traditional law firms, and instead focus on unleashing the energy and individual genius of the best legal minds in the industry.
Rob Hanna (00:00):
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast powered by Kissoon Carr. I’m your host, Rob Hanna. This week, I’m delighted to be joined by Timothy Parlatore. Tim is a former military veteran and now the founder and managing director of Parlatore Law Group. Tim is based in New York, runs successful nationwide cloud based law firm. He practices law in criminal defense and litigation. The mission of his firm is simple. They wish to provide their clients with the highest quality legal services at a reasonable rate. They do this by removing all the barriers of bureaucracy and the bloated overhead costs associated with traditional law firms. And instead focus on unleashing the energy and individual genius of the best legal minds in the industry. So a very big welcome, Tim.
Tim Parlatore (00:50):
Thank you very much for having me.
Rob Hanna (00:52):
Wow. You’ve had quite the quite the journey, Tim, but before we, we go through all of that, we must start with our open customer questions that I say on the legally speaking podcast. So I hear you giggling away, on the scale of one to 10, 10 being very real. How real would you rate the hit TV series Suits?
Tim Parlatore (01:13):
Well, in my experience, I would say probably about five it’s, I’ve never been in a firm that had, you know, princess as a paralegal and an unlicensed attorney pretending to be an attorney, but it’s, it’s a fun show to watch.
Rob Hanna (01:28):
Yeah, I think five, I actually recently rated it five when I had a, an interview and I think that’s fair. I think, you know, if you’re basing it truly on the law, then you’re going to be disappointed, but a bit of give and take. So let’s start at the beginning Tim.
Tim Parlatore (01:41):
Rob Hanna (01:41):
Tell us a bit about your family background and upbringing.
Tim Parlatore (01:47):
So, I was raised in New Jersey in a fairly suburban area near New York city and, you know, growing up, I was a wrestler and hockey player and wanted to join the Navy and go off to the Naval Academy for college. So that’s, you know, that’s the goal that I pursued that took me a couple of years to get in. I didn’t get in the first time. So it took an extra year of school to, to get there and to begin, you know, what I thought at the time was going to be my lifelong career in the Navy.
Rob Hanna (02:22):
Yeah. So tell us more about your time in the in the Navy.
Tim Parlatore (02:25):
A lot of fun. It was a tremendous learning experience. You know, I joined in the summer of 1998 spent the first four years at the Academy. It was a very different era because it was post-cold war, peace time Navy. And yeah, aside from a couple of little skirmishes here and there, we hadn’t been into full-scale war since Vietnam. So yeah, most of our instructors had had no combat experience. Only the very senior guys who had been around Vietnam. And then all of a sudden, my senior year is when the 9/11 attacks occurred. And so all the sudden, you know, the mindset completely shifted and pretty much immediately after that, all of my classmates and everybody, I, I went to school with, we all went over to the war.
Rob Hanna (03:18):
Tim Parlatore (03:18):
So it was a, it was a very unique time, you know, we were the first class to graduate during a time of war since Vietnam.
Rob Hanna (03:24):
Wow. Wow. That’s truly, truly, you know, interesting. And thanks for, for sharing that I can imagine you saw a lot of things along the way. So I guess coming out of that experience, you know, how did you find the, you know, did you always want to be a lawyer? How did you find the legal world?
Rob Hanna (03:42):
It was actually something that kind of came to me while I was, while I was at the Academy. I originally wanted to spend a whole career in the military and somewhere along the way, I kind of figured out that my, my skill and my passion really was better suited for the law. You know, one of my, my best friend and he’s frequently fond of telling this story, he got in trouble and was facing, being separated from the Academy. He came to me and we sat down and went through the rule book and figured out, you know, what’s the proper argument to make. And he looked at me and said, Tim, I can’t make this argument. I don’t even understand what you said. So he and I went up to the Admiral’s office together and I presented his argument and they, they accepted my argument. They kicked it down a you know, he, he got restriction instead of getting kicked out. And just a few months ago, he took command of one of the newest destroyers in the Navy. He’s still active duty and still going strong.
Rob Hanna (04:43):
Great stuff, great stuff. Well, it sounds like a good dear friend that you helped out during a tight spot, but again, sticking with your, your sort of legal experiences and we’ll come on to your current firm, but you did have some, some legal experiences before setting up your current firm. Do you want to talk about some of those?
Tim Parlatore (05:01):
I had a great experience because I, I went to law school in New York city. I went there with the intent of practicing criminal defense in the city. I had read books and, you know, it was inspired by some of the great criminal defense attorneys who you know, growing up during the heyday of organized crime you know, the Bruce Cutler, Jerry Shargel, Rob Buschetti, Jeff Hoffman, that, that crew. And then I had the tremendous opportunity for the first few years of my career to actually work with and for those legends and, and learn first-hand from them the best way to try a case. I did that, you know, in, you know, one to three attorney firms for, for several years up until about four years ago.
Rob Hanna (05:50):
Wow. So some incredible names there as you, as you say. So I guess you’ve obviously bag tons of experience. So that leads me to you now, why did you decide to set up Parlatore Law Group?
Tim Parlatore (06:03):
So It was actually, it was kinda a two-step process. The first thing I decided to do was to get out of the small firm lifestyle because in the criminal defense world and civil litigation, New York city, the, the middle class of lawyers was really getting squeezed out. And people were either starting run volume practices of largely quarter court appointed cases, or they were going to the larger white shoe firms to take on those bigger white collar cases. So that was the second was the direction that I wanted to go. And I ended up joining a large cloud based firm. I was with them for about three years. It was a tremendous experience, but, you know, ultimately I decided to leave them and start my own because as they continued to grow and got very close to breaking into the AM Law 200 we had a difference of opinion as to business strategy.
Tim Parlatore (06:57):
You know, they wanted to represent large institutions, fortune 500 companies, things like that. And they didn’t want to represent small businesses and individuals anymore, and that just didn’t match with my philosophy. And so that’s why I decided to leave them and know, didn’t want to go back to a traditional firm. Didn’t want to go back to being a solo. And so I said, you know, why don’t I, yeah, I know how the cloud based model works. I know how to improve upon it. I’m going to just start my own and build it and improve upon it, and then focus it in the exact opposite direction of trying to help small businesses and individuals by taking the advantages of cloud based firm and really opening up access to high quality legal services to businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.
Rob Hanna (07:50):
Yeah, no, absolutely. And that’s very sort of entrepreneurial of you, and we’re going to talk about that a bit more later on as well, but from your own perspective, I understand, you know, you’ve done so well and achieved so much, particularly transitioning from your military background, but you’re one of the very few private attorneys in New York state that is experienced both in civilian and military law. So do you want tell us more about your current practice in terms of the work clients you work with?
Tim Parlatore (08:15):
Sure. I mean, I, I work with a wide variety of clients. I do everything from, you know, major securities fraud cases in the us district court to you know, representing military members and court marshals. I’ve never really specialized in any one particular type of case, you know, there’s people that just, they just do securities litigation. They just do DWI’s things like that. And I’ve always said that I specialize in weird cases because I ended up getting anything that doesn’t fit into anybody else’s specialty, where it’s interesting. And it requires really a lot of thought to figure out how to deal with this unique situation. That’s where I really come in and specialize. So, you know, I like to focus on those unique cases. I like to have a pretty significant high stakes court battles, you know, it’s, I, I’m the kind of guy that you want to bring in if you want to get into a really big and ugly courtroom.
Rob Hanna (09:12):
Yeah. We love those as well. We love we’re all for those. And you touched on it there. So although what’s sort of interesting for our listeners probably to, to, to understand is although you are based in New York, you do handle a lot of matters nationwide, and you are licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, the federal courts of Texas and Connecticut and all the military courts. So talk us through the logistics of how that all works with your current setup.
Tim Parlatore (09:38):
Sure. Our firm is based on a very simple principle of just not having any physical offices anywhere. Yeah. Everything that lawyers do you know, that they have these big fancy offices that was based on an old business model pre-internet and the vast majority of everything we do now can be done on a laptop when you have all of your, you know, your Lexus nexus and all the various software that we have available. So my entire firm, everybody works remotely. And so I don’t have to go to New York. I mean, it looks like on the website that I’m on the 85th floor of One World Trade Center, but that’s just a mailbox. The reality is right now, as I’m speaking to you, I’m sitting in Virginia and I can work from anywhere. And so when a case comes up, I can fly to wherever the case is, you know, I tried a big case in California last year, stayed in a hotel for two months, much to my wife’s disappointment. But you know, we really are completely, completely mobile in that respect. And a lot of the people in my firm, you know, because I’ve removed that locational requirement for them, a lot of the people in my firm that I’ve been able to hire or high quality attorneys that can’t normally find jobs because their licensing and their physical location don’t match. But with my model, they could work remotely really from it.
Rob Hanna (11:08):
Yeah, no, it’s a fascinating model. And it’s one that I’m seeing more and more, and it’s a question I want to pose to you in terms of do you see cloud-based law firms becoming the new normal, shall we say, considering COVID-19 in particular?
Tim Parlatore (11:22):
I do think that the current pandemic is going to accelerate the growth of cloud-based firms. Yeah. It is definitely a different business model. It’s not something that works for everybody. You know, I, I do a lot of recruiting for the firm and, you know, we just added our 14th lawyer last week. And in going through the various applicants, there’s a lot of people that this isn’t necessarily what they want, but clients are definitely up to the idea. You know, years ago they wanted a law firm with the stability of the big fancy office and everything. And, and there was some sense of security and seeing that they’ve spent all that money on the window offices and the big mahogany conference room table, but the reality is today, clients don’t want that. And I think that a lot of law firms need to get over themselves to realize that when a client comes to your office and you make them sit there for 45 minutes before they can come back to talk to you. And they’re sitting there looking around and saying, man, this lobby’s the size of my house right off of central park, beautiful view. The reason I’m spending over a thousand dollars an hour on this lawyer is just so that they can maintain this completely useless, massive lobby and big fancy office. So the clients are wising up to the idea that you don’t really need to spend that much money on a high quality attorney, because really you’re just subsidizing these ostentatious, you know, offices and unneeded infrastructure for the law firms. And so the clients much prefer results at an affordable rate. And so you know, while years ago, the idea of hiring a cloud based firm to do your work is maybe somewhat intimidating. It’s become more normalized over the past decade. And especially over the past two months, I don’t think that any client is really going to bat too much of an eyelash at the idea of, okay, well, my lawyer can work from home because now we’ve proven that everybody can do it. So I think it’s going to grow at the same time, existing law firms, just because of how entrenched they are in things they’re going to have a tremendously difficult time changing their business bottles. So I think you’re going to see a lot more of new firms like mine coming up and taking over the market. Whereas the older firms are going to start dying out. I’m actually kind of curious to see once we get out, the other side of this locked down, how many of the old firms are now would end up in bankruptcy? Yeah.
Rob Hanna (14:13):
Fair point. And I think it’s, it’s, you know, we’re giving the legal sector a bit of a bashing there in terms of traditionalism. I don’t just necessarily say this is to the legal sector. I think it’s the professional services sector in general. I mean, I’m seeing a lot more accountancy cloud-based firms setting up and things like that. So I just think it’s the way that I see professional services led industry going more and more and more,
Tim Parlatore (14:32):
It is, it isn’t, you know, just a couple of weeks ago we took on a new client, that’s a consulting company. And one of the first things that they said to me was, you know, we, we want to set up this consulting company, so we need lawyers to do that, but I heard what you’re doing with your law firm. And I want to do that with my consulting company. So in addition to doing all the normal legal services, can you advise me on how to make it a cloud based company and copy what you’re doing?
Rob Hanna (15:02):
Tim Parlatore (15:02):
So, yeah. And of course we’re very well equipped to help them do that. Yeah,
Rob Hanna (15:08):
No, absolutely. And I think, you know, just on that, then, you know, what do you most enjoy about working for your current firm?
Tim Parlatore (15:16):
This is going to sound funny because we’re not in the same building every day, but it’s the team, it’s all the people. I have a tremendous team of attorneys working with me and I love working with them every day. And even though we’re not in the same building, we’re constantly on, on the phone, on video calls and we have a tremendously talented motivated team that even though we’re geographically dispersed, you know, work extremely well together. And that that’s, that’s the most enjoyable thing. For me, quite frankly, that’s one of the things that coming from the military and then going into the practice of law was something that I missed, you know, having that cohesive team working together towards accomplishing a mission. And then, you know, going to these smaller, you know, one to three attorney firms where you don’t have that larger team aspect and it is a lot more of, you know, everybody out for themselves. And so the opportunity to get, get kind of that, that team aspect back is really something exciting for me.
Rob Hanna (16:27):
Yeah, absolutely. Look, there’s going to be lots of aspirational lawyers and current lawyers probably listening in who always want to get their hands on the best quality work. So given your cloud based model, are you still able to do that? And can you give a flavour of maybe the types of firms you tend to see on the opposite side of some of your matters?
Tim Parlatore (16:47):
Sure. Well, you know, we, we employ pretty aggressive marketing strategy through social media because I think that’s where most of our clients are, you know, we’re going for the entrepreneurs of the world and our clients are great. Then they appreciate coming to a firm that’s not charging them five thousand dollars an hour, that’s charging them less than half that. So that it’s affordable. But when we get into litigation, you know, we’re going up against, you know, all the big AM Law, 100 AM Law 200 firms. Obviously I spend a lot of time going up against the government, you know, the various us attorney’s offices and military prosecutors. And, you know, we have, we’ve been able to really show that even through this geographically dispersed model, you really can take on the big matters. I always talk about the difference between a cloud based firm and a virtual firm. Even though most people try and use those terms interchangeably, you know, virtual firms are more of like a one person shop or in some cases more of a, a collection of solos that have all licensed under the same name and website, but they’re still really more of a network of islands rather than a cohesive team. Whereas, you know, with us in the cloud based firm, it is a traditional firm in many senses of the word. And so we do take on major litigation’s, you know, I’m doing a $300 million securities fraud case right now that has an associated bankruptcy and at least four different associated civil cases, you know, across multiple jurisdictions. And that’s something that we can handle very easily with this model. You know, last summer we tried, you know, what was probably the largest murder case in the country and the largest most significant war crimes case in the history of the US Navy all through this dispersed team, everybody working remotely.
Rob Hanna (18:52):
Wow. Yeah, definitely sounds interesting. I think you’ve, you’ve, you’ve explained very clearly how it can work and how you can get that quantity of work. Cause I think that would be a natural hesitation or question mark people may ask, but moving on to we’ve, we’ve touched on that briefly throughout, you know, you’ve had some wonderful cases and you are highly skilled and experienced in handling the media that comes along with all of that. I know you’ve gained national recognition for a lot of your expertise in managing a lot of those high profile cases and clients, but that said, I also know, and I really liked the fact that you pride yourself on sort of low profile victories, you know, successfully handling cases that never become public, which I think is a sign of obviously a lawyer and you’re featured in several local national publications, television appearances. Just tell people something a bit more about those experiences and some of those, shed a bit of light on them.
Tim Parlatore (19:46):
I was very fortunate, as I mentioned earlier to you have to work for some of these great legendary attorneys and the first guy that I worked for while I was in law school, Eddie Hayes he was a master of managing the media as it related to cases. And he taught me so much In that, that I was able to apply, you know, throughout my career. And even before my current firm, when I tried the case of the three guys who parachuted off of one world trade center, you know, that that became a worldwide media case. And, you know, there are ethical rules that you need to make sure that you stay within. And so I’m always very mindful of that, but at the same time, we have an obligation to defend our client’s reputation, both in and out of the courtroom. And so I was very early on taught that, you know, the lawyer who doesn’t comment is sending a very loud message that their client has no defense and, and it just looks bad. So I never pass up those opportunities. At the same time, I’ve seen a lot of lawyers that they’re promoting themselves as opposed to their client. And I’ve seen lawyers that actually call the media and plant stories about their clients, negative to their clients, more for the purpose of promoting themselves. And yeah, that’s something that you have that I would never want to do. And in talking with my people and everything, we always make sure that, you know, the client’s interest is the number one concern. You know, we’re a very client centered firm. And so if it can be handled quietly, that’s certainly preferable. But sometimes in cases where, you know, the media gets a hold of it first, and we need to, you know, come out with a strong public defense, you know, we’ll do that. And, you know, certainly we’ve had a few cases where that’s been very effective.
Rob Hanna (21:53):
Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think one of the things that you also mentioned that you’ve been heavily influenced by, and we’ve touched on throughout our conversations, obviously your military background as a former Naval officer and obviously veteran of the operation, enduring freedom, you know, how have those skills and experiences perhaps made you a better lawyer
Tim Parlatore (22:13):
At the risk of offending all the good people at Brooklyn law school, I learned more about being a lawyer from my time in the Navy than I did in law school.
Rob Hanna (22:23):
Tim Parlatore (22:24):
And you know, when I, when I look now at the way that I handle cases, I address each case as a mission. And the way that we prepare for trial is more of a mission planning process than a traditional, you know, lawyers process. And, you know, it’s, it’s a mindset of, you know, keeping focused on the mission and the goal and setting everything up in furtherance of that goal and not, you know, not allowing extraneous you know, matters to get in the way. And, you know, at the same time, I think a lot of trial law in particular is I consider it to be, it’s like psychological warfare where you really have to, at all times, you know, consider the other side, consider their mindset, consider you know, what, what they’re doing and how you can influence their way of doing things.
Tim Parlatore (23:27):
And so it’s, it’s a very important they have all those principles. And at the same time, I picked my first jury for a shareholder derivative lawsuit and tried my first two week jury trial, less than one month after I got my license. Now, most, most people try to take a lot longer than that before they can get to the first jury. And, you know, public speaking is something that people are nervous about. I had a lot of experience with public speaking, not from trying cases, but from standing in front of platoons and company sized elements and instructing them in, in the military. And so the idea of standing up in front of a group of people and making a presentation was not something that was foreign to me. It was something that was very comfortable. So, you know, law school certainly taught me the rules, but the principles of how I practice are much more based on my prior experience.
Rob Hanna (24:27):
Yeah. And so on that then in terms of, I mean, that’s really inspirational. What advice would you give to other people who might be, you know, during COVID-19 thinking about a career change or maybe in the military, like you were and wished to break into the law, what sort of practical advice or tips would you give to those people?
Tim Parlatore (24:46):
My advice with everything has been, you know, career aspiration was, is figure out what you want to do, what you have a passion for, and then find it and stick yourself right in the middle of it. You know, don’t, don’t just sit on the sidelines and play it and figure out, okay. You know, I’m thinking about doing this, thinking about that. Yeah. I wanted to do, initially I wanted to do major organized crime before I was in New York city. So when applying to law schools, I didn’t, yeah, I didn’t apply to all the top us news and world report schools. I instead applied to the schools where the people that were doing what I wanted to do, went to, and then once I got there, I found, you know, where the trials were. And I took my off time and I went down to the courthouse and I watched the trials and I got to meet the people. And that really launched me into, into everything else. So figure out what you have a passion for. And if, if your passion is for the law thing, go there, go there and meet the people and stick yourself right in the middle of it. You know, it’s, it’s an incredible aspect of the law that our courtrooms are open. Of course not right now, but ordinarily courtrooms are open. And so if you want to go, you know, watch some major trial that everybody’s watching on the news, you can get into the room, you can get into the courtroom and watch, watch it unfold right before your eyes. And that’s really where some of the best learning experiences come from.
Rob Hanna (26:19):
Yeah. Learn by doing, I guess, take action. I love that. And so just in terms of going back to the cloud based law firm model, you know, how does the application hiring process work for a firm like yours versus say a traditional law firm?
Tim Parlatore (26:35):
So the beauty of the Cloud-Based firm is that because the overhead is so low, you know, we, we charge the clients a lot less, but then the attorneys take home a much higher percentage of what they bill everybody in my firm is compensated on a purely revenue based percentage. And so my recruiting process, you know, we get, we get resumes and cover letters. And then, you know, we set up initial interviews and oftentimes in the initial interview, I’m more explaining to the applicant what I do, because before I get into the deep questions about how do you think you’re gonna fit in here? I want them to really understand what a cloud based law firm is. And, and so it’s usually the second interview where I start to ask more of the probing questions of them. But ultimately what I evaluate is quality of work, mindset, personality, whether this is somebody who will fit with our team, whether it’s somebody that is mature and able to work independently, because for the most part, the kids that just graduated law school, they’re not going to work well on my model because they could use a couple of years of in-person adult supervision.
Tim Parlatore (27:51):
The people that you know, that they want a job where they can show up on Monday and a senior partner will come in and, you know, put a stack of files on their desk and tell them, Hey, I want this done by Friday. They’re not going to work well on my model because I want people that are self-starters that have an entrepreneurial spirit. And ultimately I have the luxury of evaluating every candidate really on, on a binary basis of is this somebody that I think would fit with my model or not? It’s not like I put out a, an ad saying, Hey, I need one employment lawyers. So let me interview 10 candidates to figure out which one is the right one. If 10 candidates come to me that I think all 10 of them would fit and, and would be a good part of the firm. Then I have the freedom to hire all 10 of them. You know, we have right now 14 attorneys on board, we’ve been growing at a rate of an average about one attorney a month, I believe very strongly in controlled growth. And so I’m not going to hire all 10 of those people at once because that would overload our, our back office. But my goal over the next several years is I want to grow this to 300 attorneys. So, you know, we definitely do have a very different hiring process than most firms in that way.
Rob Hanna (29:13):
Absolutely. And I just love that, you know, that appetite and that vision, that desire. And yeah, as I say, I’m just really excited to see how it all pans out, particularly with the sort of cloud based versus traditional law firms. And, you know, who’s going to win that race. I think it’s from my side, I can definitely see your side of the coin. And yeah, I just see that as so many steps further ahead and how you can attract talent and all of that, that goes with it. And I guess as an extension, as we look to wrap up Tim, you know, one of the benefits of this cloud based law, you talk about locations, but it can also work for people and their families generally. What, what do you do for the downtime as well as the benefit of working for your current?
Tim Parlatore (29:52):
For my downtime, I try and spend it with my family. I mean, you know, for me, you know, running the firm, building the firm and also practicing and my wife is constantly reminding me that I need to have some more downtime. But yeah, I just enjoy spending time with my family going out on hikes in the woods, things like that. It is definitely a model that, you know, although I spend a lot more time because I’m, you know, I’m running it, it’s a model that attorneys in general, if they join us, they will have a lot more free time because your commute is gone. You can, you can make your own schedule. If you want to take time off, if you want to take a couple of weeks off, that’s fine. Because as long as the work is getting done, everybody’s compensated on a revenue based percentage anyway. So if you’ve wrapped up your case, so you want to take a month off, you know, that’s, that’s perfectly fine. And, and a lot of our attorneys, they are the types that shall we say are traditionally if quietly discriminated against, by other firms. You know, the majority of my attorneys are women with young children because this type of model allows them to be able to balance that, you know, and not have to sacrifice one for the other. A lot of my attorneys are military spouses. You know, they’re married, active duty military. They’re constantly moving around. And so this allows them the freedom to do that. So it really is something that increases your quality of life.
Rob Hanna (31:33):
Yeah, no, well said. And I think that’s a really nice note to finish Tim. So I would just like to say, thanks a million for coming on. It’s been a real pleasure having you on the show. I’m wishing you all involved at your firm and reaching that target of 300 lawyers. I’m sure you’ll do it. I’m sure our listeners found that truly interesting and inspiring and informative. So thanks so much. We’ll surely see your feature again in the future, but from our side thank you.
Tim Parlatore (31:59):
Thank you so much for having me on. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this.
Rob Hanna (32:02):