By: Steven Benna / Business Observer
Photo by Mark Wemple
Despite his title, commercial real estate attorney Will Conroy doesn’t self-identify as a lawyer.
Conroy’s roots as an entrepreneur date back more than 20 years, to his preteen days. He had a lawn cutting company and a basement-based baseball card company when he was 12, for example.
Two decades later, he has another noteworthy venture: Conroy, 33, is the youngest partner with Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns LLP, a law firm with offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa. He works out of the St. Petersburg office of the firm, which handles business and tax law, labor, intellectual property cases and more.
Conroy’s ability to communicate — whether it’s with legal clients, business partners or the 12 people who report to him at Johnson Pope — has been crucial in his development as a manager. Being upfront and communicating openly is a big plus to the 55-lawyer law firm, he says. Conroy joined the firm as a partner in 2013.
“We’re not a terribly vertical company that is like playing a game of telephone,” he says. “That leads to effective communication to everyone involved.”
Conroy has developed a few methods that help him and his team. Every Monday, for example, he has an individual meeting with each person he supervises. “It sets the tone for the whole week,” he says.
Conroy also does what he can to keep himself on the right track. On a typical day, he is up at 5 a.m. to get some work in before his kids, 5 and 1 years old, wake up. Then he heads to the office from 8 a.m. until about 6 p.m., he says. After getting the kids to bed, he works from 8 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. to prepare for the next day.
“I’m a big lists person,” he says. “I start each morning with my checklist from the night before.” Conroy also sets digital critical date reminders, he says.
Another key for Conroy is maintaining a constant focus on self-improvement. He says he constantly asks for feedback and recently conducted a 360-review to get anonymous responses from coworkers. “It’s an ongoing process,” Conroy says.
That process seems to be working for Conroy and the firm in general. There are 20 members of the firm who have been there for more than 20 years, he says, and he hopes to help that figure grow.
While Conroy spends the majority of his time on the legal front, he does make time for other ventures. “I’m constantly trying to find new ways to grow my business,” he says, “and identify new businesses that I’d like to be involved in.”
The ventures vary significantly by industry. He owns a share of a restaurant, owns a title company and is one of the developers of The Salvador condo project in downtown St. Petersburg. He believes that wide array of experience has helped his legal career.
“I think one of the reasons that my clients and I have good relationships is because I don’t just help them solve their legal problems, but I have that business experience as well,” Conroy says. “They know that I’ve walked the walk in their shoes. It’s not just a lawyer saying in the abstract ‘here’s your problem.’ It’s me who has presumably faced that same problem as a businessman saying ‘here’s one way to approach that.’”