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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 3 weeks ago

Economic forecast: Marie Tomassi, managing shareholder, Trenam Law, Tampa/St. Petersburg

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The legal industry veteran says the firm could explore new practice areas in 2019.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Company: In 2019, Trenam Law will focus on its “continued need for project management and process management,” says Tomassi. “The idea that you can learn to do things smarter, better and more efficiently.”

Mobile time entry for lawyers, for example, is an area the firm intends to focus on in 2019. “Lawyers can keep track of their time when they’re not in the office,” she says, so billing will be more accurate.

Trenam will also continue to explore new, highly specialized legal frontiers. In recent years, the firm has added practices in areas such as cybersecurity and solar energy. Tomassi says Trenam could look at adding a medical marijuana practice in 2019.

Industry: Tomassi has been with Trenam for three decades, so it’s fair to say she’s survived more than a few economic ups and downs. There’s no doubt, she says, that “the past few years in Tampa Bay have been a time of growth, and businesses, on the whole, are doing well.”

That means firms that boast strong business law practices, like Trenam, have also done well.

“I think there’s always some anxiety about when the other shoe is going to drop,” Tomassi adds, “but I’m not hearing a lot of that because the area just keeps growing. All the construction cranes in St. Pete and Water Street Tampa ... that keeps anxiety down and lets people focus on growing their businesses.”

Threats: “There’s always a competition for talent” in the legal industry, Tomassi says. “That’s a challenge for us in 2019.” Florida law schools produce a steady stream of talent, she adds, but it’s not easy to pry an experienced, practicing attorney away from his or her current firm. “Many of us are happy where we are,” Tomassi says. “There must be compelling reasons for someone to leave where they are.”

National and international firms entering the market is another threat, but it’s one that established midsized firms like Trenam, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020, have thus far managed to fend off. “It’s been difficult for those firms to come in and get a stronghold because of our deep roots in the community,” she says.

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