Will Conroy says his best business decision was marrying his wife, because she’s always supported his career moves.
She even encouraged him to take a leap of faith in 2009 when the market was crashing, and he decided to leave Carlton Fields, “a behemoth law firm,” to work in a smaller firm, Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel and Burns. That leap of faith allowed him to put entrepreneur next to his title of lawyer.
To build his business, Conroy “hustled,” spending 20 hours a week marketing, and went to lunch with anyone who would accept the invitation. Those small relationships have grown into big ones.
Conroy is now the firm’s youngest partner. Outside his law practice, he’s working on several other businesses. He’s an equity partner in the development of “The Salvador” in St. Petersburg, a partner in a four-unit townhouse development in Tampa and an apartment deal in Tarpon Springs. He’s also a part owner of a restaurant and a title firm.
His biggest challenge is having enough hours in the day to find time to read or study new legal issues, development issues or business opportunities. Conroy carves out three to five hours every week to learn new things. He believes that helped him become a better lawyer and businessman. He’ll read, attend seminars, do internet research and take financial courses online so he can talk intelligently to CFOs.
Conroy admits he’s always been an old soul. Part of this happened because his father died unexpectedly of a heart attack when he was in law school.
The thing he is most serious about is making time for his children. He was adamant that his office is only a mile from his house. “There’s not a presentation, parent-teacher conference or athletic event that I will miss.”
— Traci McMillan Beach
Name: Will Conroy
City of residence: St. Petersburg, Florida
Twitter handle: (I’m not a Twitter user!)
Employer: Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP
Title: Partner (youngest partner in the firm)
Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia
Years on the Gulf Coast: 8 (moved in 2008). My wife Stacy was born and raised in St. Petersburg, so this was a homecoming for her. I was raised in Massachusetts, so moving to Florida was a big adjustment but we absolutely love St. Petersburg.
Marital status/children: Married to Stacy Conroy, we have two children, Paige (5) and Jack (2)
Alma mater: Yale University (undergrad), University of Pennsylvania (law school). Stacy is also a graduate of both schools and we met at Yale when we were freshman.
Best place to network: Wherever my clients are most comfortable. I take a very hands-on and intimate approach to my client development and retention.
Coolest business experience: Partnering with my client, DDA Development, to build a 74-unit condominium in Downtown St. Petersburg called “The Salvador”. To be able to see a project evolve from a piece of paper to a luxury high-rise condominium building has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my professional life. There have been many bumps in the road, and we are not yet completed, but creating 74 wonderful homes for our buyers has been incredibly rewarding.
Messy desk or clean workspace: My desk is generally clean, but I spend 50% of my day outside of my office and whether the car/home/ipad is clean at any given time is anyone’s guess…
Best business lesson ever learned: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – my father used to say this to me as a kid on matters unrelated to business, and my father-in-law reminds me of it all the time now for business matters. Those individuals and companies that I look up to are not in the business for the short-term, they make strategic decisions based on long-term relationships and value creation.
A website that makes your job easier: Any of the Clerk’s office websites – they are all excellent and very user friendly.
Community group you’re most involved with: Two – Shorecrest Preparatory School, where I am on the board of directors and Real Estate Investment Council, where I am the immediate past president and on the board of directors.
Favorite off-hours activity: Spending time with my family or working out.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: My father (deceased since 2006) and my grandfather (deceased since 2009). Neither had the chance to meet my kids, and I’d do anything for the opportunity to tell each of them about my family.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: I would love to be a baseball player, but that dream ended when I was 16! Realistically, I would love to be a teacher and a coach of middle school kids. My life has been immeasurably impacted by wonderful coaches and teachers, and this would be my (inadequate) attempt to give to others the benefits that I have received.
Top item on your bucket list: To see my children’s children.
Skill you’d like to learn: Woodworking. If I ever retire, I would like to learn how to make my own wooden furniture and furnish our home with my creations. We’ll see how that one turns out!
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Dustin Hoffman has always been my favorite actor since I saw "The Graduate" in high school. His character in that movie is outgoing, and a people person, but can be highly guarded except to those in his inner circle. That’s me as well, so I think Hoffman would be a good choice!
If I had a magic wand I’d: Clean up our national political system by: a) establishing fair districts free of gerrymandering and b) immediately overturning Citizens United, which in my opinion is one of the worst Supreme Court cases in history (outside of Dred Scott and the other Civil War-era racial decisions)