Prentiss Grant Law Focus of 2-Year-Old Firm Is Mediation 9/12/16 09/12/16 12:46:39 AM
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The Prentiss Grant team (from left): Lisa Daughtrey and Cynthia Ristau, paralegals; Joseph Grant, Paul Prentiss, Christopher Sievers, Jill Hamer Conway and Kelsey Kallhoff, attorneys.
Prentiss Grant Law
Focus of 2-Year-Old Firm Is Mediation
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
For Paul Prentiss, the thought of being a partner in a law firm was nowhere on his mind during most of his college years.
For Joe Grant, well, he was born into the profession.
Prentiss Grant LLC was formed on Jan. 1, 2015. The two principals had been friends since 1981 when they were members of the same investment club. Both left established firms that were “winding down.”
From the looks of their offices, with a striking view of The Champions Club golf course, it was a good move. Their new firm has a focus on mediation and workers’ compensation law.
Born in Sweetwater, Texas, Prentiss attended Trinity University in San Antonio where he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology. “I just kicked around,” after college, he said, and somehow ended up in Lincoln where he earned a master’s in agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
That degree took him to Minnesota and a job with Cenex, an agricultural cooperative at the time. He then developed an interest in the law (more on that later), so he made the decision to attend the William Mitchell College of Law (the school since has merged with Hamline). Prentiss then clerked for the Minnesota Court of Appeals before getting married and moving to Omaha.
The Omaha-born Grant attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for his bachelor’s and law degrees, and brings a jovial approach to everything.
“In our own minds, we are a really big deal,” he said, with a laugh.
Such is a visit with Prentiss and Grant: an easy mood wrapped in a sense of great confidence. They joke about their skills and their work. Both have an extensive history with local bar associations.
InvolvementPrentiss is a member of the Omaha, Nebraska State, Minnesota State, Iowa State, and American Bar Associations. He’s a member and former chairman of NSBA’s Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section.
Grant belongs to the Omaha and State of Nebraska Bar Associations, was president of the Nebraska State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section in 1985-1986, and a past president of the Lincoln Barristers Club and the Omaha Barristers Club. He is a fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation.
Their contributions are not limited to the legal arena.
Prentiss has been involved at All Saints Episcopal Church, participated in RAGBRAI, and plays tennis. He is a past president of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation.
Grant has mentored at inner-city schools, worked on legal education, and, “I’m the light-hearted, goofy auctioneer at the Christ the King Sports Banquet,” he said. “So I’ve got that going for me.”
Otherwise, for Grant: “I just try to stay in shape. … I work out a lot.”
They are in unison with the belief that their community involvement benefits not just them, but also those with whom they work.
“You do law day-in and day-out [and] you get a little jaded,” Prentiss said. “It helps take the edge off.”
Grant added, “[It] gives me a little perspective.”
There is a feeling at the firm that not everyone can find the legal help they need, although they admit that, due to the firm’s particular niche, Prentiss Grant does not see much of such hardship.
“You read a lot about people who don’t have access to legal services,” Prentiss said. They support the efforts of legal organizations to alleviate that lack.
The BeginningsSo, how did they come to practice law? Prentiss partially explained earlier, but there is more.
“I wasn’t really satisfied with the path I was on,” he recalled. His science background combined with his Cenex experience created an interest in becoming an environmental lawyer.
“Then I learned you have to pay the bills,” Prentiss said. “I just fell right into the litigation path.”
Grant chose law out of a “great deal of respect for my father.” That was the late Honorable John T. Grant, known as Jack Grant, a Douglas County District Court judge. Grant’s brother, John, is also an attorney in Omaha.
The partners are in agreement that mediation is a direction in which the legal profession is steadily moving.
“It feels good to solve a problem … it isn’t easy,” Prentiss said.
“People don’t like the risk of going to trial,” he asserted. “It’s just a better way of resolving disputes.”
The FirmPrentiss Grant LLC, including associates and support staff, employs only about 15 people. That seems to be the opposite of what he finds to be a major trend in the legal field, Prentiss mentioned.
“It seems like firms are getting bigger,” he said.
Grant agreed, and pointed to another development that he does not necessarily appreciate.
“I think it’s a little regrettable it’s becoming so hyper-specialized,” he said, adding that such a trend makes it harder to fully represent a client.
“It’s kind of like medicine,” Prentiss said. There was a certain charm, he said, to the profession in the days of the “old country lawyer” who handled a range of cases.
“It’s just too hard to be competent in all those areas,” he said. “So, the big firms have their departments.”
But, Prentiss Grant has its focus, and it seems to work for them – so well, that both men show little interest in retiring.
“I’m happy to be able to follow in my father’s footsteps,” Grant said, but he pointed out that he has no interest in becoming a judge.
“I’m happy being a lawyer,” Prentiss said. “I’m real happy with what we have going here.”
Added Grant with a twinkle in his eyes: “I’m starting to think Paul may have a future here.”