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Integrating Family Values and Professional Expertise in Law With Mitchell Panter


Mitchell Panter is the Managing Partner at Panter, Panter & Sampedro, a Miami-based personal injury law firm known for advocating both individual injury cases and broader community safety hazard issues through legal action. With over 30 years of experience in the legal field, Mitchell leads a team of five attorneys and 11 full-time staff members. Since 1986, he’s been Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer through the Florida Bar and National Board of Trial Advocacy. Mitchell’s practice primarily focuses on personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, medical malpractice, and premises liability cases. Early in his career, he argued a precedent-setting case in the Florida Supreme Court, which awarded his client a $1.7 million verdict due to a product defect injury.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Why Mitchell Panter and his brother decided to open a personal injury law firm
  • How and when Mitchell knew he wanted to be an attorney
  • The importance of family in Panter, Panter & Sampedro’s business ethos
  • What sets Panter, Panter & Sampedro apart from other personal injury firms?
  • The importance of treating staff well and creating a family environment
  • The advantages of running a family-owned business in the legal industry
  • Mitchell‘s advice for anyone thinking about starting a business with family

In this episode…

How does a family-oriented approach in a legal practice transform the quality of service and client relationships? Is there a more profound impact to be had beyond traditional legal representation?

Mitchell Panter, a seasoned attorney with over three decades in the field, advocates for the integration of family values into professional law practice, believing it to be a cornerstone of his success. He highlights how this unique approach fosters trust, collaboration, and a deep empathy towards clients. Mitchell’s experience shows that involving family in the firm’s operations not only strengthens internal dynamics but also resonates with clients, offering them a more personalized and caring legal experience. This blend of personal touch with professional expertise, he argues, significantly enhances the effectiveness and human aspect of legal work, leading to more meaningful client relationships and successful outcomes.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen talks with Mitchell Panter, Managing Partner at Panter, Panter & Sampedro, to discuss the dynamics of running a successful personal injury law firm. They discuss the importance of family involvement in the business, Mitchell’s approach to client care, especially in complex personal injury cases, and the key role of effective communication in managing a law firm.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.

To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01  

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Chad Franzen  0:12  

Hi. Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. My guest today is Mitchell Panter, Managing Partner of Panter, Panter & Sampedro, a personal injury law firm based in Miami, Florida. He is a board certified civil trial attorney and has been practicing for over 35 years. Mitchell, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Mitchell Panter  1:05  

My pleasure. Let me correct you to start off with its Panter, Panter & Sampedro. Sorry, I barely know that. That’s a great start for your show. The first thing get the name, right.

Chad Franzen  1:17  

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So tell me what inspired you and your brother Brett to open a personal injury law firm in Pine Crest.

Mitchell Panter  1:26  

Well, we’ve been here for more than 30 years, we started off a little bit differently. My brother went to both went to university Miami law school, he got out of school went to work with a sole practitioner gentleman. They did primarily insurance, defense, things of that nature. Brett got into doing some personal injury with his partner. And they had a nice little firm, just the two of them. It was actually across the street from where we are currently. I on the other hand, also went to University of Miami Law School. However I graduated, I worked for an insurance defense firm for the first five years out, I was doing pretty much cases all around the country, if not all around the state. I did some oyster defective cases, I did some negligence cases, some learn to the insurance, industry trade and how to do things from the insurance perspective, the defense side. And I did that for enough years that I decided okay, the time was right. So I went joined up with Brett, we subsequently bought a building across the street from where our office was, we’ve been in this we call it the Panther building for more than 30 years now. We do personal injury work we originally started off I did a little insurance offense, a little landlord tenant, a little bit of criminal work, a little bit of family work, any young lawyer when you’re starting off does door law, whatever walks in the door, but we were able to fortunately grow to you know, good stature that we’re at now. We’re five lawyers 15 staff altogether, we represent people injured due to the negligence of others and do what we hope and think is a really good job.

Chad Franzen  2:58  

At what point did you know you wanted to become an attorney? And how to how do you think that happened?

Mitchell Panter  3:04  

Yeah, I get this question all the time. young, very young. I mean, you know, I like to argue, and I like to do these sorts of things. And so at an early age, I knew that the beauty with law is you don’t necessarily have to pigeonhole yourself. So you can determine that you want to be this type or that type. Much like medicine, a doctor, you can be a cardiologist or radiologist or pathologist, a primary guy in your nose or throat or whatever. So with law too. And you know, that’s one of the things when I speak to young people that are going to law school or just starting out, try different fields, see what you like, a lot of it depends on who’s your first job and what kind of work you get for your first job. I was fortunate I worked for a sole practitioner during law school, I also worked for a clerk for a larger personal injury, very well respected, firm. And so I learned a little bit about the field. You know, as I said, I did a little criminal work, I did a little landlord tenant work, I did a little insurance offense, but this was the area of law that I really wanted to focus on and do and continue to, you know, make my steps to make that happen.

Chad Franzen  4:08  

Yeah, what, what sets Personal Injury apart from some of those other ones that you kind of also were familiar with and had experience with?

Mitchell Panter  4:16  

Not billable hours, you can have a life. You help people. You know, when I was doing landlord tenant work, we represented at the time, Edward J. DeBartolo, which owned all the malls in the country, if not in the state of Florida. And you know, the work was good, it was billable hour work, and it was interesting. And you know, you’re dealing with landlords and tenants and things like that, and it was okay. insurance defense was you’re representing an insurance company, the devils the guy with the bad with the bad hats, the black hats, you know, that really didn’t care about people. It was about dollars and cents. And you know, to some extent that was good because it gave me great insight into what they’re looking for how they evaluate cases. But plaintiff work to help people you know, people that you know, and we’re fortunate in the sense that If we’re able to at this point in our career pick cases that are good cases that have merit, that have real issues, that we’re able to represent people injured due to the negligence of others and hold people accountable and responsible. So, you know, this area of law, I like it, you know, criminal law was tough. I mean, I was helping, you know, good people, and bad times, bad people, in good times, however, those phrases go. But that just wasn’t the kind of law that I wanted to do. And many friends that do that, and there’s stellar, and they’re great. And it’s constitutional. And it’s and it’s interesting, but this area of law, and we’ll get into it a little bit how we differ ourselves from other people to represent them and help them both from when they first come in the door, and for their lifetimes. That’s that’s an important aspect of our practice.

Chad Franzen  5:44  

You work with your brother along with David Sampedro. Can you explain the importance of family in your business ethos?

Mitchell Panter  5:52  

It works or doesn’t, it’s as easy as that, you know, I’ve ran into many people that have their wife, their mother, their cousin, their aunt, or uncle and they work with, and it’s one of those things, if it works, it’s a trustworthy, you know, somebody that you don’t have to second guess, we are very different in the way we view things, and high low sideways. But it gives us both the opportunity to bounce things off each other wonderfully. David joined us many years ago, and is our younger brother in all spec in all respects, and all aspects our kids have all grown up together. And we’ve seen them, you know, flourish. You know, when you have a family that works, it’s wonderful. You know, it’s a family atmosphere that we have here, we have 1516 people. And every day at three o’clock, I go and I make Cuban coffee, and we sit and we talk and we hang out. That’s a Miami thing. Cuban coffee in case you didn’t get that, you know, but we try to generate a family environment. We talk to our clients, we communicate with them. We respect who they are and what they are and what they’re going through. So the the family environments spreads from, from the top down and throughout our entire firm.

Chad Franzen  7:02  

What do you think kind of you alluded to it just a little bit earlier? What do you think sets you guys unique set you guys apart is unique in family law practice.

Mitchell Panter  7:11  

Classic example. And as a case, so we had a case recently that we resolved for a woman that was injured catastrophically and which is pretty badly hurt and accident. And we were able to come up with a good resolution to the case and was sufficient amount of money. And our goal was not to just give this person a check and say go be on your merry way. We’ve realized and understand that this person is going to have difficulties in working in the future, and earning a living difficulties with medical expenses, difficulty with needs, to remodel their house to get a new car, all those sort of things. So you know, your typical lawyer here, give me my check for my money. And here’s your check go away. What we like to do and what we’ve done with many clients, especially children, one of the things that we feel really strongly about is when we settle the case for a minor or an incompetent person, that we protect them. The courts have systems with Guardian ships, and conservators and things like that, that we’ve all heard of lately. But we want to make sure that this person is taken care of. So what we were able to do is give them X amount of dollars, but also to set up an annuity, a structured settlement, so that during the course of their life, this person was 24 years old, and hopefully will live a nice long life in year five and year 10, and you’re 15, and you’re 20, they’re gonna get a check, a check, a check and a check, instead of just this one lump sum check that that the people are going to come out of the woodwork to handle them and to take their money. But now, we’ve set up college funds for students. So I settled the case for an eight year old little boy. And that kid now is 18 years old, and is going to have a college fund. So what that means is that starting at age 18, for four or five years, every month, they’re gonna get a check for 500 bucks or 1000 bucks, which will pay their rent or pay their college at age 25, they’re going to get a $5,000 check at age 30, they’re going to get a $10,000 check at age 35, they’re going to get a $25,000 check. And rather than have that money and spend it foolishly or have the parents or others that are caring for them spend it inappropriately, this child now or this person now who became an adult or incompetent now that has to have care for them will be protected. And so we feel it’s our duty, our obligation, morally, not legally, because legally I can give them the money and send them on their way. But morally we do a little bit more than other people. We want to make sure that these people are protected and are safe and secure and have their future taken care of. And so you know, we feel strongly about those sorts of things and and do our best to help people with that.

Chad Franzen  9:43  

Very nice. You mentioned children. Did you often over the past 35 years, bring your kids into the office when they were growing up? And if so how did that affect her?

Mitchell Panter  9:53  

I will tell you Yes, both of my kids are lawyers. My oldest son is a lawyer in New York City at a totally different field. He worked what’s called Big law. So he’s in downtown New York City with his wife, and they both work in big law and do that kind of practice. My younger son is an attorney in Atlanta, he does employment law. So he represents people that are wrongfully terminated or abused or harassed on their jobs. So the answer is yes, we would frequently have bring your kid to work day. And whether it was a hearing, whether it was a trial, whether it was just sitting around the office, or signing up clients. But more importantly, you know, I was in my younger days, and I still do it to this time, appointed by the court as what’s called a guardian. So when a case is settled, involving a minor child, the court if it’s over a certain number, amount of dollars, will appoint a guardian, that’s an independent person to review the case, to make sure that it’s settled correctly and resolved correctly. So I wouldn’t at times, bring my kids with me. So they would see, this is what we do. And this is why we do it. I remember specifically going to, you know, disabled child’s home that that got a good recovery, and bringing my child there and letting them know, Hey, I’m going to review I’m going to make sure that the family knows what they’re doing in terms of caring for the child, financially, that the lawyers are doing the right thing and caring for the child financially. And yeah, I would bring that to them and instill in them. That law is more than a profession, it’s a calling and, and you know, we have the opportunity to do good things for people, you know, a lot of bad stuff out there, then you hear you hear the bad you don’t hear the good stuff. But so this is my my pitch to you. There’s good people doing good things to help people and that’s what we try to do every day.

Chad Franzen  11:31  

Is there like a milestone or, or a moment that you look back on with your with the firm, Panter, Panter and Sampedro and you’re, you’re particularly proud of?

Mitchell Panter  11:40  

every day, you know, you know, I I’m blessed. I’m fortunate I come to work, I like coming to work. We’ve had good staff that’s been with us for many, many years, because we treat them nicely. We have that family environment, I enjoy coming into the office, I make the Cuban coffee at three o’clock I bring in, we bring in the bagels, we bring in the doughnuts, we keep everybody happy, we do the best that we can to make it a calm and safe and good work environment. So you know, we’re close to home, everybody that works here and lives close to home. So coming and going is easy. You know, we just tried to make it a good place to work. And, and I’m proud of that.

Chad Franzen  12:20  

When you’ve encountered challenging times, I’m guessing it always hasn’t been 100% Smooth. How have you and your brother Brett kind of managed through persevered through challenging times?

Mitchell Panter  12:30  

Well, we challenging times as last few years, you know, we had that whole COVID situation and and he opened the office, he closed the office to send people home because they sneezed if you keep things moving, slowly, surely cautiously with everybody’s best best abilities to do what they can do. But safety and security. I mean, as we went through COVID We stayed open, we maintained it if somebody needed to take time off, they did if somebody was sick, they they quarantine, we did what needed to be done. We’ve had great cases that have been very lucrative. And we’ve shared the wealth, we’ve had lean times where we’ve had to work really hard and just tell everybody, hey, you know, stick with us and do well. So, you know, we’ve been at it for a while. So we’re good, we’re solid, we advertised quite a bit. And as a result of that, it brings in a lot of diverse clients and cases and things. So we do our best in good times and bad times to maintain the flow and to be consistent with everything.

Chad Franzen  13:31  

If you are able if if somebody is able to work with family, what do you think is an advantage? The biggest advantage of running kind of a family type business in the legal industry?

Mitchell Panter  13:42  

Well, any industry it’s not necessarily legal, you could be a doctor, you could be an Indian chief, you can be an architect Amina to work with family, the you know, your your, your now those 810 hours a day that you’re out of the house, you’re not you got your your wife, your brother, your cousin, right next to you. So you better make sure you get along with them. And you know, then on the holidays, you’re going to spend those holidays with them and, and you’re going to talk shop and do those sorts of things. So, you know, there’s pros and there’s cons each individual circumstances is different. If it you know, you need to be fair, you need to be open, you need to be clear, you know, if your wife is managing the books, she’s going to know that and that’s an interest in you know, they have more of a personal interest in things. So, you know, if you got a case in and the bills are being paid, and your wife or your brother, your cousin is the one paying them, they’re gonna they’re gonna be a little bit more cautious. They’re going to make sure that bills are appropriate, and everything’s paid correctly. So those are the pluses. The minuses, I don’t really know because we do it. You know, you’re dealing with that person. And about 24/7 Because you sleep but now 16 out of 24 You’re with that person, both that you know at home or even if you live in separate homes, if it’s not your wife, is it your spouse, your brother, you know your holiday times are together your vacation together, you do those sorts of things. So, you know it doesn’t work for everybody, but if it works for you You know, the divorces that occur in family businesses are uglier than, than anywhere else. And we’ve all seen them and heard them. You know, so you need to protect yourself and you know, you still even though it’s family, you still want to do things legally, you still want to do things in writing. And you still want to make sure that that everybody knows what’s going on and is treated fairly and appropriately.

Chad Franzen  15:20  

How do you kind of ensure consistent communication amongst the partners?

Mitchell Panter  15:26  

Talk You know, I belong to several business business groups and it’s really amazing and and pardon my French but my my motto and everybody tells me about this is answer the goddamn phone. And that applies to the phone that applies to the emails that applies to the faxes to the text, to the to the calls, talk. You know, my wife always yells at me, everybody’s wife always yells at you pardon by sexism, to communicate. And whether you know, it’s the Florida Bar telling lawyers to communicate or your spouse or your clients, communicate, talk to people let them know what’s going on. Whether it’s an emotional feeling, whether it’s a business decision, whether it’s a legal question, you know, communications is key.

Chad Franzen  16:05  

Last question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about Panter, Panter & Sampedro.

Mitchell Panter  16:11  

You said it right? Correct. Very good. Thank you. It’s panterlaw.com. That’s panterlaw.com. My specific email is mpanter@panterlaw.com. We’re here we’re available. We’re, you know, communicate with people throughout the country. If not throughout the world, we live in a really different world. Now. You can communicate with somebody anywhere in the world. So you know, we’ve got cases from people traveling here, Miami is pretty much a central location when people come to travel from, from Europe, from Asia, from South America, get an accidents have incidents have a need for an attorney here. And so we’re happy to help. We formed many years ago, what’s called the Panther network. So we’ve got a group of more than 150 lawyers that can do real estate closings, criminal work, civil work, immigration matters. No matter what your legal needs are, give us a call if you don’t do it in house, we’ve got a skilled, qualified, competent attorney that we can refer you to. Again, that’s panterlaw.com. Feel free to give us a call, email us any questions you might have. We’re happy to respond.

Chad Franzen  17:18  

Last question for you. If you were to give advice to somebody who was thinking about starting a business with family, what kind of advice would you give them, you know, beyond what they already know, from their work experience.

Mitchell Panter  17:29  

Make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into test drive, you know, don’t just say oh, he’s my brother. He’s my cousin. He’s my wife and our work. Test Drive, make sure that it works for you. Not every relationship works. Not every relationship is the best, not every relationship will, will will stand the test of time. So you know, test drive it, make sure it works. And again, that big bad word communication. Know what you’re getting yourself into, have a written document confirming what’s going on. Don’t think that just because it’s family that you can trust the goodwill of everybody, make sure it’s written down the rules, the responsibilities, the duties of everybody, and pay attention and update and you know, periodically speak to people. Is this working for you? What can we do different? You know, that’s pretty much it.

Chad Franzen  18:17  

Okay, great. Hey, Mitchell has been great to talk to you. We’ve been speaking with Mitchell Panter from Panter, Panter & Sampedro. Thanks so much for your time today. Really appreciate it.

Mitchell Panter  18:27  

My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Chad Franzen  18:29  

So long, everybody.

Outro  18:32  

Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes, be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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