When Paul Franco moved his practice to the Northeast in 2012, he realized he was one of very few attorneys in the area.
“It’s interesting. There are no lawyers in the Northeast,” Franco said. “I think there’s me and another fellow who has an office, but I am the only Latino lawyer in the neighborhood.”
The son of Mexican and Mexican-Guatemalan parents, Franco grew up in Los Angeles. He began his law practice in Johnson County, Kansas, but moved it to the Northeast six years ago. Franco runs the law office along with legal assistants Ambar Lara and Fernanda Tovar. Together, Franco’s team is working to prove that law can be practiced both well and helpfully in the Northeast.
“The practice of law has become a business,” Franco said. “I think for many of us we became lawyers because we want to help people and make the world better, until you realize it’s a business. I think for many people the question is: can you run a successful law business over here?”
Franco said that when he moved his practice to Independence Avenue, some of his colleagues questioned why he would move to Northeast. But Franco said he didn’t see why he couldn’t have a successful practice and still help those in need.
“There are a couple of tensions in this business: the helping and the payment. What I’ve decided to do is merge them the very best I can,” Franco said. “If you need help and you’re willing to work the payments out, we are not going to say no to you. On the other hand of that, if you need help but you want it free or you’re not going to cooperate on payments, then we can’t help you.”
Franco acknowledged that having a law office in the Northeast isn’t as lucrative as his previous practice in Johnson County. But for Franco, the satisfaction of bringing helpful service to the area is enough.
“In my six-plus years here, and out of 25 years of practice, this is the happiest I’ve been,” Franco said. “I don’t feel like I’ve given something up to be here, I’m happy being here, because I see people that I can help and that feels good.”
The people Franco’s office is able to help come in with a variety of cases. Traffic cases are the bread and butter for the firm but family cases and criminal cases are also part of Franco’s business model. At any given time ,the office handles between 200 and 300 cases.
Franco said the root of many of their cases involve family issues in some way.
“Parents here are working two, sometimes three jobs, and they’re first generation. You come in working really hard and the family unit that you had before is all of a sudden challenged here,” Franco said. “It’s the family unit that’s getting broken down, and the result of that is the kids are on their own. I see the struggle between the way you’re brought up and the way you’re living, and I see it played out all the time.”
The aftermath of this, Franco said, is that many of his cases deal with teenagers or young adults who get caught up in serious crimes. Through the chaos, Franco and his office are trying to bring hope and kindness to the community.
The firm recently moved to new, expanded quarters at 3408 Independence Avenue, in the old animal hospital and is looking forward to being added to the Avenue CID next spring. “The CID is an extremely important part of improving the Avenue”, said Legal Assistant Ambar Lara. “We’re excited about our move and being a part of the CID and the Avenue’s success.”
Paul Franco’s office is open weekdays between 8am and 5pm. They can be reached at 816-920-6613 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.