Super Lawyers magazine interviews attorney Gery Rodriguez on life in Stuart, Florida.
Q: How did you end up in Stuart, Florida?
Gery: I had been working at Greenberg Traurig, in the West Palm Beach office, as a commercial litigator. I didn’t have anything to lose by trying to practice in Stuart, because I still maintained my Palm Beach contacts. I live in Jupiter, about equidistant between West Palm Beach and Stuart. I opened an office here. Rather than working from home, I just went to work every day, and focused my networking up here. It worked out very well.
Q: Why go small?
Gery: I thought it might be a good idea to be a big fish in a smaller pond. I wanted to help out more small and mid-size business owners and individuals. I felt the best way to do that was to be on my own. I could be more nimble.
Q: How did you build clientele in a small city?
Gery: When I was ready to leave Greenberg, I reached out to them and said, “This is what I’m planning on doing. Would you continue to send me work when I’m on my own?” Uniformly, they all told me “Yeah, of course, you’re our guy.”
Q: Why law?
Gery: When I went to law school, I wanted to be a real estate developer. I took a real estate finance class in college, and the professor brought in a developer. I said, “What do I have to do? I don’t have any family ties or connections; how do I make a name for myself, how do I get involved, how do i start?” His answer basically was, “Real estate development is 90 percent law,” I figured quickly, if I got a J.D., I could get into business, too.
Q: Are there big cases in small towns?
Gery: It’s not always the big matter that makes a difference. We get people who come into our office; we offer a half-hour free consult. Just yesterday, I was talking with a potential client on the phone, and when you ask them, “How’d you find me?” they tell you, “You’re the only person to call me back.”
Q: Are there drawbacks to living in a small town?
Gery: One of the biggest challenges I had growing the firm was finding staff. If I were in the Palm Beach County market, it would have been much easier, because there’s a much lager labor pool.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Stuart?
Gery: It’s a beach community, it’s on the water. I’m a boater myself. It’s a golf community. I’m a golfer, too. It’s amazing how much nicer the folks are, just generally.