By Sheryl Young
Attorney Patricia Carroll is ready to handle your legal issues on a friendly and personal level. She specializes in bankruptcy, personal injury and probate law, as well as wills and trusts while splitting her time between her two offices — one in Dade City and the other in the New Tampa Professional Park on Regents Park Dr. in Pebble Creek, a mile or so south of the Pasco County line, off Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Pat feels she has special skills that distinguish her from other lawyers.
“I was a social worker, and my undergraduate degree is in psychology,” she says. “I’m very oriented to working with individuals. This helps me develop a quick, easy rapport with people.”
Pat didn’t go to law school until the age of 35, after already helping people through government systems as a social worker. She says she’s committed to accepting only the number of legal cases she feels she can handle well at any given time.
“I only take so many clients at once,” she says. “It’s not a certain number, but a certain feeling. When I believe my staff and I won’t be able to give the proper amount of individualized attention to each case, I stop taking new ones.”
Pat, who was a State prosecutor earlier in her law career, is definitely people-friendly, with a down-to-earth skill for listening and empathizing; yet, she is able to remain objective in doing legal analysis.
She credits her personal style to her mentor, a former New Tampa-based lawyer named Vincent O’Brien. When she was first out of law school, Pat says sent letters to attorneys offering to work without pay for a period of six weeks.
“Vincent is the one who called to take me up on my offer,” she recalls. “He told me, ‘Practicing law isn’t about the money. It’s about building relationships and helping people.”
After Pat became a prosecutor, O’Brien contacted her to say he was moving to England, where his wife was from, and his law office space in New Tampa would be available.
She says, “I was ready to work from the defense side of the law, and grabbed the chance to start my own law firm in his space.”
Serving People With Care & Attention To Detail
Pat has followed O’Brien’s model of being good-natured and really caring about people. Her perception of needing to be formal, which she learned in law school, melted away. “As a result, I’ve rarely had to advertise, and was able to open the second office in Dade City,” she says. “Many people come to me by word-of-mouth from others I’ve assisted.”
Ronald McBee is one such enthusiastic past client of Carroll’s. He confirms that she certainly put him at ease when he needed legal help with a family matter.
“I was searching for an attorney in Dade City when I saw her sign from the street,” he says. “I walked in, met Pat’s paralegal Rose, and had a meeting arranged with Pat in just a couple of days. She was very friendly, and to me, attorneys are usually scary!”
Yet, McBee says, Pat was firm in insisting that he laid everything she needed to know about his case on the table.
“I will call on Pat without hesitation if I ever need a lawyer again,” says McBee.
When consulting with clients, Pat puts her corporate litigation persona on a shelf to make them feel at ease.
“They don’t teach personal skills in law school,” she says. “When my clients have court dates, they may be very anxious and nervous. I meet with them 30 minutes before court to go over things and refresh their memory. Usually, they breathe a sigh of relief.”
Pat says she will always lay out everything that can happen in the courtroom, and doesn’t charge extra for her time spent doing so.
One of Pat’s specialties is helping people with wills, trusts and estates.
“I focused in law school on estate taxation,” she says. “This is an important skill set in order to properly process wills and trusts. People are often referred to me through their banks when complex issues regarding estates and trusts are at stake.”
She also assists with bankruptcies, and tries to anticipate every question a client might be asked about their case, especially in “341 meetings” with a trustee. These “341s” are bankruptcy meetings with creditors, where a trustee handles the case for the court between the client and the debtor. In these sessions, the trustee often has a barrage of questions for the bankruptcy applicant.
“I ask myself, ‘What extra steps can I take to get the stress off my client?’” Pat says, “not just how can I win. Having everything in writing before the client is questioned is something I learned from a very helpful court trustee.”
Pat further calls upon her social worker training when someone dies and leaves a will to be dealt with.
“When a relative dies, people go through grief and then get angry,” she says. “They often project their anger onto each other, even if they’ve previously gotten along. Many times, the fight isn’t really over money or possessions. It’s because of their grief.”
She says she gently works people through this, and feels not enough lawyers are trained to recognize the symptoms while handling valid legal claims versus emotional claims.
But even more important is that Pat tries to prevent anger in families long before that often-devastating time when she is writing a will for someone.
“I explain to the person how their relatives might feel once they are gone,” she says. “I guide the person in how to tell their spouse, children or siblings what might happen during the grief process.”
In addition to her time serving clients, Pat provides a variety of seminars, including “Estate Planning, It’s About the Love, Not the Money,” where she explains that people are leaving a legacy and don’t want the will process ruined by emotions. She has given these seminars to Rotary Clubs in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, as well as for the Women of Wesley Chapel (aka “WOW”) networking group.
Attorney Patricia Carroll can most often be found at 13635 21st St. in Dade City between Old St. Ann Rd. and Coleman, a location that also is convenient for people in Wesley Chapel. Her New Tampa office is at 8907 Regents Park Dr., Suite 310, in the New Tampa Professional Park, behind Pilot Bank.
For consultations and more info, call (352) 895-1776 for Dade City or (813) 994-5457 for New Tampa. You also can find her on the web at PatriciaCarrollLaw.com. Appointments are always required.