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In an industry with high stress and high turnover, Jeff Fridkin’s law firm has stability. “The relationships have really held,” he says, noting his receptionist and office manager have been there for 30 years. “It’s so important to have an enjoyable experience, to feel you’ve got reliable people around you that you can trust and count on. It’s a cordial and collegial working environment.”
Fridkin says he and the other partners at Grant Fridkin Pearson, P.A., in Naples are board-certified in different specialties, with Fridkin leading the disputes and trials section. “We complement each other,” he says, “as opposed to competing with one another.”
His leadership style is to model the behavior he wants to see in others. “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” he says. “I have a high expectation of performance. I acknowledge when I see it. I acknowledge when I don’t see it—in a way that preserves people’s dignity.”
Fridkin attributes his employees’ longevity to the firm’s philosophy of putting family first. They sponsor events that include the 14 attorneys, 14 support staff and their families. When his children were growing up, Fridkin made sure that his home was close to his office so he could take them to school and spend time with them after work. “When I come into the house, I leave work behind,” he says. “I do my work better if I’m also living a separate life with my family. It has really paid off. My bride and I will be celebrating No. 45 this year.”
He describes practicing law in Naples as a blessing, and his faith does play a part. “I have had some real triumphs and happy moments, and some very devastating and disappointing moments,” he says, looking back on his 39 years as a lawyer. “Prayer is part of my life. I pray for justice, not for particular outcomes.”
Fridkin says he didn’t always plan to follow in his father’s legal footsteps. He thought he would become a veterinarian—then he got a C in chemistry and spent a rather eye-opening summer in a vet’s office. “There was a particular moment with a garden hose, a tail up in the air and a snarling dog who wanted to punish me for prepping him for a procedure. I all of a sudden realized as much as I wanted to help little critters in pain, I did not have the right skill set.”
Fridkin did develop the skills to handle the tremendous amount of stress that goes along with litigation.
“I learned how to manage that stress and channel it into productive activity,” he says, noting his first boss put him in “sink or swim mode” and taught him how to think on his feet. “I work very hard, but when I’m done, I let it go.”
What motivates Fridkin to succeed is his desire to help his clients. “I relish the challenge to try to help them through whatever the controversy is and earn their confidence in the course of doing that,” he says. “When that happens, it’s very gratifying. I serve the role for the client as counselor at law.”
Fridkin is humble when discussing his induction into the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida 2018 Business Hall of Fame. It honors local people who have been sucessful and who are active in giving back to the community. “I was on their selection committee 20 years ago. I keep thinking they made some sort of blunder this year, lowered their criteria,” he says, laughing.
But his résumé proves he is a worthy recipient. His list of community involvement is extensive, including membership on the boards of organizations that focus on health, education and economic development. He is a member of the Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation and FGCU’s Financing Corp., has participated in Leadership Collier and Leadership Florida, and is a member of the Health Care Network of Southwest Florida Foundation Board, to name a few.
He says he had a litmus test for determining which volunteer activities to pursue. “I had to have a passion for it and feel like I was making a difference,” he says, “not just occupying a chair.”