Pete Potente: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Attorney | by Eric L. Pines | Authority Magazine | Apr, 2024

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Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law?

Since my earliest memories, growing up in a family that valued travel and exploration, I’ve been immersed in a culture of curiosity and discovery. This upbringing brought me a profound appreciation for encountering diverse cultures, people, and places. Through this, I realized that I wanted to shape a life centered around experience, staying connected to what the world had to offer. When it comes to a career as an attorney, my path was set from as early as 12 years old. After reading “The Firm” by John Grisham, it became clear that this was the profession for me.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?

The job market was extremely tough after my first year in law school. However, I desperately needed a job for financial purposes and to build my resume. At the time, no one was hiring first-year law students in the field I was most passionate about: business law. I reluctantly accepted a position at a personal injury law firm being paid minimum wage and quickly found it was not for me. It was not about the money. Deep down, I knew it did not align with my path and I needed to trust my intuition and inner spirit. My strong work ethic didn’t let me quit, but I needed financial stability and a paycheck for rent and groceries, so I took on a role delivering gourmet foods and spices for a wholesaler throughout Southern California. While my friends were enjoying the beach and escaping reality for another summer, I was enjoying my time learning about the culinary culture of Southern California — a delectable treasure trove of a region for edible delights and business lessons. I gained valuable insights into the hospitality industry, hotels, bars, restaurants, and beyond. It laid the foundation for my legal career and my overall love and affinity for the global hospitality sector. I had an insatiable hunger to educate myself and explore new experiences while in law school. To this day, I’ve never lost that desire. You could never put me in a box of conventional thinking!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The list of projects I’m fortunate enough to work on is extensive. I pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a living. Without going into detail, certain projects involve interesting brands and brick-and-mortar expansion for different restaurant concepts (food and hospitality continually keep business interesting). The AI space exhibits rapid applicability to many of our corporate clients and we have unique entertainment projects commingling the everchanging concert touring space with technology. Not to mention, we have also been managing engaging legal work concerning global shipping logistics. In my world, two things are true: (1) every project and client is equally exciting and invigorating, and (2) the world is very, very, very small.

What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories?

Every case is pretty interesting. If it isn’t legal-specific, there is a new business or industry to learn and understand. Interesting cases to me involve “getting into the trenches’’ with our clients globally. I love being at the finish line when it looks like a transaction is dead upon arrival, but through creativity, positivity, and a “can-do” mentality, every deal is attainable and benefits both sides. Some of my more memorable projects involve closing a business merger, expanding a company’s presence, or a real estate transaction in a new market. We have been everywhere — Europe, the UK, Mexico, the Caribbean region, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. I’m grateful for the companies who have entrusted us, allowing our firm to gain crucial insights into social and business norms of various markets while also helping us expand our global network of trusted colleagues who can assist with POTENTE’s clients. This internal development helps us elevate our services for existing and future clients with projects spanning hotel acquisitions and development, restaurant expansion, film development, and global mergers of companies that impact the delivery of goods on a global basis. Waking up every day knowing that our law firm is actively engaged in projects that impact international commerce is an exhilarating feeling.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I love reading about successful individuals’ journeys from all walks of life. I wish our society had a better grasp on history or an overall desire to read about others who have ventured through this crazy thing called life because history and success repeat. Life is not easy and adversity is always lurking around the corner. Historical figures from diverse backgrounds inspire me as they all share the common goals of achievement and ensuing battle wounds. Reading countless stories of courage, perseverance, and an overall zest for life inspires me daily. Successful people embrace the challenges to become well-rounded and sustainable human beings. No one said life is easy. Embrace that reality. You will be stronger because of it.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?

If you can’t answer the question, “Why do I want to become an attorney?”, then please reconsider your career options. While this profession can be rewarding, it is a very tough field with long hours, grueling deadlines, different time zones, sleepless nights, and very complex laws that are frequently changing. At a minimum, you need to be an advocate for something — something that interests YOU. I love business and finance, but I would struggle to advocate in an area that doesn’t interest me. Figure out what is driving you to become an attorney and stick with it. BE PATIENT, and do not become an attorney because of money. Rome was not built in one night. Your heart and gut do not lie to you, so don’t ever lose the courage to listen to your loving gut.

If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?

  • Law school should be reduced to two years. Why are we making young students delay entering the workforce and incur more debt with a third year? Let’s call a spade a spade. Most folks have checked out by their third year and are preparing for the bar and a post-bar job. I graduated from law school in two and a half years. I was ready to work, and I needed a paycheck!
  • For businesses, it would be great to have a form of national connectivity among various Secretaries of State. Every state has different sets of laws and filing systems, which is inefficient for companies and individuals that work within multiple jurisdictions throughout the U.S.
  • This might be a pipe dream, but it would be great to make the federal and state tax filing systems more efficient. It is a mess right now, and there aren’t enough professionals to assist clients with the financial means to pay for strategy and advice. Unfortunately, many intelligent and talented individuals are not entering the accounting field because of the constant high-risk challenges that offer little reward.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I spread the message about what it means to be an attorney every day because I fear young people will enter the profession unprepared, with little patience, or an inability to work in this very confrontational profession where emotions run high. This is a very tough profession with unique challenges that one can only learn outside the classroom or courtroom. When I was in law school, my favorite professors and mentors were those who had real battle-tested scars and stories of being an attorney. That’s how I learned — through application. It’s also how I pay it forward. If you are willing to listen, it can save you a lot of time and stress.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

What drives me is the opportunity to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Witnessing the tangible effects of our efforts fuels my passion. I hope to continue forging meaningful connections while achieving success for others, as their success reflects mine. While the business side of things remains a source of inspiration, my deepest fulfillment comes from nurturing human connections and cultivating community. That’s where my true focus lies.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

My gut still hasn’t been wrong. If you open your mind to a form of free-thinking, your intuition will guide you more than you know. Not everything is reduced to the black letter law. Don’t forget, you were a human being before you ever became an attorney.

  • Nothing good happens at a law firm on a Friday afternoon.

After nearly 20 years, most people aren’t calling at 4:00 PM on a Friday to tell you a joke or wish you a good weekend. They likely need something last minute that cannot be humanly performed, or they need to emotionally dump on you before they go on to enjoy their weekend. Neither scenario is good. Take that call at your own risk!

Connect with people who value you, your profession, and your time. There are a lot of energy vampires out there that are very toxic people, and most don’t realize it. Learn to recognize this and stay above the toxic fray — it’s liberating.

  • Stay off the “merry-go-round” of negativity.

Negative people like to be negative. Success has never been created with negativity or complaining, so stay away from bad energy suckers. The universe doesn’t reward financial success, but it does reward perseverance and a proper attitude.

  • Time is your most precious asset.

Time is the most precious asset you have and also the most precious gift you can give someone. A simple smile, hello, just your voice — giving this to someone else can make their day. It’s also important to remember it when you are the recipient of such treatment. When you value your time, you will give it to those you cherish most. Keep that in mind when someone else gives you their time.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

  • Elon Musk and Mick Jagger
  • I offer no personal or political opinion here. I simply find that both men are fascinating in terms of business, art and personality. Elon’s resume speaks for itself, and Mick is the product of the London School of Economics. He knows branding and business as well as any CEO out there. Their business successes speak volumes about their vision, ability to change with the times, work ethic and sheer discipline in the finances of their respective economic machines. Elon doesn’t just make cars, and Mick doesn’t just sing songs. They are business geniuses with their fingers clearly on the pulse of society in terms of commerce and entertainment.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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