Paul J. Winterhalter is a principal-level attorney in Offit Kurman’s Philadelphia office. Since 1983, Paul has represented businesses and individuals in bankruptcy matters, commercial litigation proceedings, and a variety of other engagements involving sophisticated legal representations. It is his mission to provide every client, regardless of size or stature, with the most exacting and attentive legal representation possible. With an emphasis on providing excellence in legal representation on a cost-effective basis, Paul never loses sight of financial implications for his clients on any action he recommends, and understands that clients’ interests and goals are the priority.
Paul recently spoke with us about his background, his legal perspective, and the ways in which he has served his clients at Offit Kurman.
PAUL WINTERHALTER: I’m asked sometimes: How did I become an attorney? Or, why did I become an attorney?
I remember, I think it was my junior year in high school, I was actually sitting in a room—it was before the class started—and a girl behind me said, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” She was a cute girl and everything. I said, “Well, I’m going to be a lawyer.” She said, “Really? How do you know that? I said, “I just know.” And ever since that day, I always knew that I was going to become a lawyer.
At that point, I thought: architect, lawyer; lawyer, architect? Well, I said I was going to be a lawyer, so might as well do it. I went to high school, and I went to college, and I remember when I was in college, everybody wanted to be a lawyer. I actually was the student body president of Villanova University, and at the beginning of my senior year, I had the chance to speak to all the incoming freshmen. I had a little scenario in which I asked everybody in the room who thought they were going to be a lawyer, on their first day of college, to stand up. Usually, about 80 percent of the people in each of the segments stood up. They wanted to be a lawyer. I said, “If I ask you that question after your junior year, half of you would be sitting down; and after your senior year, a third of you would be sitting down.” Everybody wanted to be a lawyer but it was a challenge. That’s how I became a lawyer.
There was really no person, no individual, no television show that I wanted to emulate. It just seemed to be a noble profession, and something that I certainly understood I would have to work hard at, but it was the right thing to do and I stuck with it and I’m truly happy that I did.
How did you get your start?
When you get your first job at a law school, it’s really what you fall into, or at least what you become familiar with. For me, quite fortunately, in my first job out of law school I worked for a state representative, and shortly thereafter I got a job with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. In the Office of Attorney General, I was able to work in what really amounted to the collections department. My first job—my first real job—was really representing the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor in collecting their taxes and obligations. Well, inevitably if a company owes taxes and obligations, they’re going to have their own financial problems, and as a consequence, they’ll file bankruptcy. In the year and a half that I was actually a deputy attorney general, I got to spend plenty of time looking at the bankruptcy code, learning the bankruptcy code, and learning what it was all about. So, it was really on-the-job training, but it enabled me to really have a very good understanding of the bankruptcy code—how it works—and it enabled me to become quite proficient.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 135 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eleven offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
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