Paul Marchese is an experienced Will and Trust attorney and the co-founder of Marchese & Maynard – a premiere estate planning law firm based out of Manhasset, New York. Born and raised in Port Washington, Paul attended St. John’s University where he studied law. After graduation, Paul initially worked for the District Attorney of New York’s Office before accepting a position at a private firm. Despite his professional success, Paul made the decision to transition away from Criminal law and instead found meaning in helping individuals protect their assets. By demonstrating compassion and a sophisticated understanding of the law, Paul uses his expertise to aid families in navigating the legal landscape.
Paul has an innate ability to gently have those conversations about end-of-life planning. As someone who works to cultivate positive professional relationships, he takes pride in producing optimal results.
Married for twenty-seven years, Paul spends his downtime with his wife and children. He also enjoys doing home improvement projects and just spending time hanging out at home.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
After I earned my law degree, I started working as a lawyer in a large firm. I saw how inefficient and impersonal the practice of Trust and Estate law was. It was inflexible when it came to fees. There was a lot of nickel and dining for hourly rates. I thought there had to be a better way of doing this. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should be the person that brings the change. I learned more about running a law firm from working at my dad’s meat market than I did at any firm. In the market, you had to be efficient, you had to make sure the customer was satisfied. If you got a complaint, you did what you could to fix it. That is the kind of management I wanted to see in this field, so that is how I got the idea to open my own firm. I’ve been approached over the years by larger firms wanting to acquire us because we are so well-known for great work. We’ve built a great reputation for being profitable and competent in our specialty.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts early, usually at about eight o’clock. On a typical day, I have two to three meetings with clients. If it’s a new client, then I sit down with them to learn about their finances and their situation, or it could be what we call an assigning meeting, which means we already had that first meeting, and now they’re coming back to look at documents and sign any paperwork. This is when the client reviews everything and asks all the questions they have. I like to answer everything so they are comfortable signing the documents. I don’t watch the clock, so if my assistant sees that a meeting is going longer than expected, they will reach out to the next client and reschedule. Throughout the day, we get a lot of phone calls. I delegate when I can, but a lot of those I need to handle myself. If I need to call someone back, that is scheduled and put into my calendar. Everything goes into my calendar so I can stay on top of it all. Every workday is long and full. I love it, but it can take a lot out of you.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve got a great team of people working with me. If someone has an idea, the first thing we do is have a brainstorming session. If there is an issue we need to handle, we deal with it together. For example, if something comes up with an estate planning situation, we will tell the client we need to figure this out, then we will sit together and come up with ideas on how to move forward. We are always upfront with our clients. If we need time to think things over, we let them know. Then collaboratively, we discuss a resolution and how to get there. It’s a judgment-free environment, open to all ideas. It’s an excellent atmosphere and benefits everyone. Once we have come up with the solution, we reach out to the client and bring them up to speed.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Individuals and families have become less reliant on the court system to dictate their next move. Back in the day when someone passed, the family had to come and hire us. We would have to go to court to probate that will. This trend is to move away from the courts because it is slow and costs a lot of money. It’s always challenging to explain to clients why something is taking so long. Recently, there has been a trend to design estate plans so that we don’t need the court. The client is in control of their assets for life, and when they die, they pass to the heirs. Business-wise, it’s not optimal for us; however, when someone comes to you for honest and ethical planning advice, you have to deliver that for them. Due to the current covid delays we are encouraging clients to create trusts as opposed to a traditional will.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have always been a bit of a risk-taker. Starting my own firm, purchasing the building, and creating a fee scale where we get paid only when things go well. All of these things take a certain amount of risk. From an entrepreneurial point of view, taking risks is what sets you apart from others in your field. Is it possible things won’t work out how you hope? Yes, it’s possible, but imagine if they work out exactly how you planned. Are you willing to take that risk? I have been and, because of that, I have been able to increase my wealth. I’m not trying to be a millionaire. I want to provide for my family and I want to ensure that they are taken care of even when I am gone. My son has some challenges that could prevent him from ever being employed. I don’t have the luxury of not making my assets productive. I need to make sure things are put away for him because we don’t know what the future holds. No matter what the motivation is, taking calculated risks will help get you to your goals.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust in who you are, and be more secure in the knowledge that you’re not inferior to everybody else. I have always been a bit insecure. I used to have almost crippling self-doubt. It took a long time for me to realize that no one is better than anyone else. Success isn’t based on who has a bigger house or nicer clothes. It’s based on who is willing to work hard and learn the most. Once I understood this, a whole different world opened up for me. I don’t know if younger me would listen, but that is what I wish I knew back then. It would have made such a difference.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People who know me well have a hard time believing that I still struggle with insecurity now and then. I can stand in front of a room full of people and speak without a problem, so most people see me as a confident person. There is a difference between social anxiety and insecurity. I’m used to being around people and speaking to large groups of people. Even as a kid, back in my dad’s shop, I was able to speak to anyone easily. The insecurity I deal with is on the inside. It’s a lot like being a stand-up comedian. They can perform without a problem and even make others laugh and feel comfortable, but they may be really worked up on the inside. I am confident in my abilities as an attorney and in creating the best plans for my clients. That definitely helps me feel better overall, but every now and then, it can sneak up on me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur it’s important that I surround myself with good people. I attribute all of my success to my team and I really owe them for their hard work and dedication.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We look at everyone as a potential client. Everyone needs basic planning. From the business point of view, it may not be the most efficient thing for someone who’s been doing this for thirty years to draw up simple documents for someone. I will delegate things to our senior associate attorney, who can do the same thing for less. You get the same quality of work for a fraction of the cost. I review every document that leaves here, but for simple documents, it’s better to delegate so I am available for the more difficult situations that require my experience. That has really helped us grow because we are able to stay on top of things better and still provide every client with the exceptional work they expect from us.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A couple of years ago we experienced a fire in the building where our office is located. No one was hurt, but we lost everything. Thankfully, all of our client information is stored in the cloud, so we didn’t lose that. We loved our location and the atmosphere of that building. Suddenly, it was gone and we had to pause our work so we could focus on getting back to normal. We had to rebuild from the ground up. It was a difficult time that took a lot of work to get past. Having such a great team really helped us overcome the challenges we faced during that time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I see opportunity everywhere. I see something that needs to be done or something that could be done better. That is the foundation of an entrepreneur. You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, just make it better. Make it more efficient or better quality. Whatever you want to change, make the change yourself. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Without risk, you have a much less chance of finding what makes you happy.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I took my mother and my Aunt out to lunch on Tuesday. I let Mom choose where she wanted to go and she said she wanted pizza. These two women have been in my life forever and I have learned so much from both of them. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than with them. We talked for a long time about life and what we’ve experienced. My mother has had to bury a son, she’s had to deal with illness. It ended up becoming a very life-affirming meal. It was certainly worth the money spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use LexisNexis. A lot of the court forms are on that. We used to have to do all these forms by hand and now we go into this program and it practically does it for us. It’s the same for real estate returns. When someone passes away, if it’s a larger estate, you have to do an estate tax return. LexisNexis has software for that. It is so much easier than it used to be. Everything is right at your fingertips.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really enjoy Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s a story of overcoming adversity. I really connected with it because it was all these people having these difficult times and overcoming it and I think we all have to do that in life.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is the serenity prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I love that quote. It’s applicable to everything. It can literally be applied to every challenge you face in life. I have it hanging on the wall in my office as a daily reminder.
- Be willing to take risks
- Surround yourself with great people
- Be honest and straightforward
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.