Georgia State College of Law graduate Aman Patel (J.D. ’08) has never been afraid of setting out and taking chances on his own.
Patel operates The Patel Law Firm, his personal injury firm in Atlanta aimed at providing affordable services to people in need. The flexibility and independence that comes with owning his own firm has always driven his legal career.
“I always knew I wanted to be my own boss,” Patel said. “The way the job market was when I graduated, there weren’t a ton of options for us when we graduated. A lot of us had to join smaller firms or start our own. It’s a lot safer to take that risk before you have the responsibilities of a family or another established job.”
Patel said he would encourage current students to take this risk of starting their own practice when they graduate if they have entrepreneurial desires, and even though it may mean more personal responsibility and risk, it does not have to be done alone.
“I think it’s important to have mentors you can turn to,” he said. “I know that made a big difference for me. Just having people who have been through it before who you can bounce ideas off of or talk things through regularly. That makes it a lot easier than just trying to figure everything out on your own.”
Though Patel has been practicing law in Atlanta for more than a decade now, his path started on the other side of the world with no initial aim toward practicing law.
Born in Fiji, Patel moved to Australia as a child and completed his education there before moving to Atlanta in 2002 to work at Emory. While working at Emory, Patel decided to change course and pursue a law degree.
“I had no intentions of pursuing a career in law,” Patel said. “My major was a science degree. After a couple years of working, I realized that science was probably not going to be my future career. I was figuring things out and decided I should try to get a law degree to combine that with my science degree.”
Operating his own firm, Patel is involved in all aspects of personal injury litigation on a daily basis.
His work has continued through the pandemic, though the delays affecting in-person jury trials has exasperated the unequal bargaining power often present in personal injury settlement negotiations.
“In the cases I’m handling, when you can’t resolve an injury case, you have to go through the court system and go in front of a jury,” Patel said. “That’s been the biggest thing. When you’re dealing with insurance companies, they hold all the cards. The money they have to pay out eventually is sitting in their bank accounts. It’s hard to force them to put a fair number on a case to resolve it, because they can take advantage of the situation. They know the case might not be heard for two or three years. They can wait it out.”
Still, Patel continues to fight for his clients. He said he is certainly looking forward to the day when courts open for in-person trials, but many of the positive technological changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will remain with his firm.
“It’s changed the practice in that you are forced to embrace the technology,” he said. “That’s probably one of the good things. My firm was very technologically focused anyway, but it kind of sped all that up. It’s made my practice evolve. A lot of the tools that make our jobs faster or easier, I’ll continue to use once we’re out of this pandemic.”
Written by Alex Resnak