Barista to Barrister
At an age when many young people are still discerning a career path, Olivia Paulo-Lee ’14 has firmly charted her course. In less than a decade, Paulo-Lee went from brewing coffee at Tim Hortons to estate planning for clients as a partner at the law firm of Long & Paulo-Lee PLLC.
“I put a lot of time, sweat and effort to get where I am but it doesn’t end with becoming partner,” says Paulo-Lee. “I’m still learning on a daily basis.”
A mock trial competition in high school first piqued her interest in law. She was a summer intern at the former Grashow Long law firm while at Clarence High School. Once her internship was over, Steven Long (the firm’s partner) asked if Paulo-Lee was interested in becoming an employee.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to continue learning and the decision was a no brainer,” says Paulo-Lee. “Without Steven, I would not be where I am today. He is both my mentor, friend and practically family. He has truly watched me grow up.”
Paulo-Lee graduated from Canisius and the University at Buffalo School of Law. At Grashow Long, she became a paralegal following the internship, a law clerk and an associate after law school. Paulo-Lee became a partner this year.
Long & Paulo-Lee specializes in working with small to medium-sized businesses and handles matters ranging from employment litigation to real estate transactions and estate planning for families.
Olivia Paulo-Lee ’14 (left) and Steven Long (right)
“As a lawyer, I like helping people regardless of whether it’s a small claims matter or a Supreme Court case,” says Paulo-Lee. “I appreciate being able to make a positive impact on someone’s life when he or she is going through a difficult time.”
She adds that there are certain benefits that come with working for a small firm.
“I really enjoy the one-on-one interaction with the clients and autonomy on my work – both of which might not be possible at a larger firm.”
She notes that every day she uses skills learned during four years on the Canisius Mock Trial Team.
“Canisius provided the foundation for where I am today,” says Paulo-Lee. “Critical thinking and public speaking skills are key to being an effective lawyer.”
While her ultimate goal is to become a federal mediator, right now Paulo-Lee is focused on the expansion and growth of Long & Paulo-Lee PLLC.
“I am fortunate for the opportunity.”