By Lauren Sable Freiman
Photo by Thomas Skernivitz
“When I first started practicing law in Warren, I had a very bad experience with a client I was representing,” Pavlidis, an attorney who today practices at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in Akron, says.
That client, whose once thriving company had failed, hired Pavlidis to plea to the court to modify a non-modifiable spousal support agreement as he was no longer able to afford the payments. When the court didn’t rule in his favor, he called Pavlidis to his home.
“He told me I did a nice job for him, that I was compassionate and understanding, and that I had good qualities for being a family law attorney,” Pavlidis says. “He made some phone calls and gave me a couple business cards for people to call because he believed I could go a lot further than Warren, Ohio.”
She left her client’s home, and before she got to the car, she was startled by the sound of a gunshot. She went to a side window to see that he had taken his life.
“It was a good solid two weeks where I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this area of law, but I remembered what he told me about being compassionate at a very stressful time, and from that point forward I became strong and became confident,” Pavlidis says. “I wanted to fight for clients and their best interests. It may not turn out exactly how they want it to be, but if you do a good job and let them know you are going to bat for them at a vulnerable time, that’s what is important.”
A couple years into her career, Pavlidis represented another client who reaffirmed her passion for family law. The client, a nurse with three small children, had to call off from work every time her estranged husband failed to show up to watch the kids.
“One time she called me and said that she had worked so hard to get her well-paying nursing job, she gets no child support, and that she was going to lose her job for calling off so frequently,” Pavlidis says. “I wanted to tell her to bring the kids to me, but I didn’t want to become emotionally involved in the case. I knew that I could fight for her rights and her kids’ rights in court.”
The opportunity to fight for a client’s best interests is what drove Pavlidis to a career in family law. After watching her parents go through their own divorce, she was convinced her mother, a Greek immigrant, would have fared better had her attorney been more compassionate and in tune with her needs. As a one-time divorcee herself, Pavlidis knows firsthand that people going through a divorce are often at the most vulnerable point of their life, unsure of their future, and worried about major issues, such as dividing custody and assets. Her goal is to always be a source of strength during a client’s most stressful time, to listen to them, hear what they’re saying, and try to ease their fears about the future.
“A client comes to you and puts their future in your hands,” Pavlidis says. “You have to protect their children’s best interests and their financial interests. If I can help a client through one of the most stressful experiences in his or her life, that’s rewarding to me.”
In addition to being a good communicator, a good listener, and having the ability to be compassionate, family law attorneys also have to be both a litigator and a negotiator and have to have a strong command of accounting and financial matters and be able to present them in court. Having a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt.
“When you’re dealing with emotional situations like child custody, child support, and issues that are important to people, having an attorney who is uptight and inflexible doesn’t ease the situation,” Pavlidis says. “You have to have empathy without being emotional, and you can’t make concessions unless they are in your client’s best interest.”
Though Pavlidis balances a busy practice and the role of wife, mother to a 7-year-old son, and caretaker for her mother who is in a nursing home in Warren, she also leads the diversity committee at her firm along with another female attorney. The firm is interested in fostering an environment that makes it possible for people such as Pavlidis — wives and mothers — to have successful, well-balanced careers. She also makes time to volunteer throughout the community and has completed the Akron Torchbearers and Leadership Akron programs.
“I’m a divorce lawyer, a divorce survivor, and a child of divorce, so I look at being an attorney in this field differently than others,” Pavlidis says. “I’ve experienced it from a child’s eyes and also experienced it from my own perspective, and I know what it takes to be good at it.”
For more information: bdblaw.com
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