Paula Parisi says she had all the characteristics of a good lawyer at a very young age; she argued, caused trouble and was never wrong.
“When the time came to decide ‘what I wanted to be when I grow up,’ I was 18 years old and pregnant with my daughter,” Parisi remembers. “My father told me no one would ever take care of me and it was my responsibility to provide for myself and the baby. That was the best advice I ever received because that was the day I made the choice to become an attorney.”
After earning her undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas in just three years, Parisi attended law school at Texas Wesleyan University, where she earned her J.D.
Today, Parisi splits her practice between medical malpractice and nursing home defense, with some slip and fall litigation sprinkled in from time to time.
“I wasn’t very good at math and science as a kid,” Parisi said. “Plus, I was brainwashed by my parents to believe being an attorney was my calling, so medical school wasn’t an option. But I always loved medicine. During law school I took a medical malpractice course that was by far the best course of those awful three years.”
She cut her teeth in the public defender’s office before going to work with a medical malpractice defense firm in Fort Lauderdale before being transferred to Dallas.
“The first five years of my practice were devoted to various types of medical malpractice cases for both physicians and hospitals,” Parisi said. “When tort reform hit Texas, it eliminated the majority of my work. I was basically forced to transition my practice.”
She spent a year taking family law cases for former clients before deciding it was time to get back into the medical malpractice game.
“I ended up meeting Aram Megerian at Cole Scott & Kissane, who offered me an entire medical malpractice and nursing home defense caseload and the opportunity to build the practice the way I wanted,” Parisi said. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I packed up my life, moved across the country (again) and haven’t looked back. Every day I am grateful I made the move. I love my firm, and what I do for a living.”
It has been pure growth since Parisi started building the medical malpractice division within the firm. Even after tort reform hit Florida, and took plenty of malpractice firms down along the way, Cole Scott & Kissane continued to flourish in the medical malpractice realm. Cole, Scott & Kissane made Parisi a partner after just three years with the firm and appointed her the lead attorney over the medical malpractice division. The firm has over 200 attorneys and a large medical malpractice presence throughout the state. Parisi predicts more growth in her division as well.
“If I see an opening, I charge forward and beat down the door. I’m full blooded Italian, originally from New York, and was a competitive athlete throughout my childhood, so giving up is not in my nature. I don’t know how to beat around the bush,” Parisi says. “My clients, like everyone else, get brutal honesty every step of the way. They also get a true competitor who believes in them and our cases.”
Until recently, it’s been hard for Parisi to make time for herself with the pressures of building a thriving practice within her firm. She’s learned that if she doesn’t make time for herself and family, she could burn out like many other attorneys so often do. Now, she embraces self-made free time by honing her culinary skills.
“I love to cook,” Parisi said. “Creating new recipes and developing menu ideas is a hobby. I often shock myself with my cooking. If I ever leave law, or win the lottery, owning a restaurant is definitely my next endeavor.”
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