By Susan LeDoux
Life can get messy and sometimes we need help.
Maurice Verrillo, Esq. knows that well, and the first words a visitor to his website (www.verrillolaw.com,) will see are reassuring: “Providing comfort and support when you need it most.”
In a conversation with The Good News, Verrillo spoke about advice his former boss gave him. “Try to put yourself in the client’s position when they’re seated, talking to you. Because then you have a greater ability to relate and figure out what is best for them.”
Verrillo said this approach enables him to be more sensitive and considerate, especially when he must remain true to himself and what is appropriate, while laying things on the table and not sugarcoating an issue.
Many attorneys are capable and sympathetic, but Verrillo believes his faith in Christ drives his practice.
“I’m one of the few attorneys in Monroe County, or this area, who says he’s a Christian attorney publically. I’m very overt, not a covert, Christian,” he said as he pointed to the Bibles in his office and conference room. He also prays with his clients, no matter their faith background. No one has turned down prayer yet.
A lawyer for 31 years, Verrillo said he is guided by higher values. Integrity, doing things the right way, heads his list. He wants his clients to have a high level of trust in him.
“It is important to clients that they have a trust level with their attorney, and also have a feeling the attorney cares about them as a complete person, not just the situation they are in.”
His caring approach includes accessibility, not just through email, but also by offering Saturday appointments. He and his associate, Lucy Brado, Esq., recently went from having two offices to one office at 3300 Monroe Avenue, Suite 301. Verrillo is pleased with the location because it is accessible and the building itself is open seven days a week. As for cost, he said he is not an attorney who tries to charge as much as possible, and in fact, offers a free half hour initial conversation.
“It’s important to have an attorney you can relate to, and that is reasonable in terms of cost.”
He described his law practice as general, with concentrations in family law, marital law, and criminal law at the state and federal levels. His office also deals with other issues such as wills, estates, and personal injury.
As Verrillo spoke in more detail about various cases he has dealt with over the years, it became clear he has a heart for marital law. Perhaps he taps into his role as an elder at Perinton Presbyterian Church, when he prays with his clients who are dealing with the end of a marriage.
He said the notion that Christians, even people of deep faith, do not go through marital problems, is to put your head in the sand. Since New York State changed from a fault state to, in essence, a Las Vegas style no fault state, a person cannot contest what is alleged against him or her.
“That is really challenging,” he said. Certainly, this is where prayer comes in. “So I try to help people work through that. Occasionally, things occur and people do get reconciled.” He told of a divorce case involving an older couple. The husband had a heart attack and his wife helped him throughout his ordeal. They are now happily married again.
Verrillo is a counselor as well an attorney. “If people want my advice…I want to give them the best advice I can” — which explains Psalm 119:105 prominently displayed on his home page. “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.” Because being a lawyer is about cleaning up messes, Verrillo said looking to God’s word helps him help people.
“My goal in representing people is to help them move forward. Some people want to live life looking through the rear view mirror. We can’t live that way. We’ve got to move forward.”
With 31 years of law practice under his belt, Verrillo can attest to some memorable cases. TV reporters have followed him in some of his more notable criminal and civil cases, although he does not seek that kind of publicity. In speaking with him, it became clear his heart is with each of his clients as he works for the best possible outcome.
One young man, a seminarian, was working in a warehouse when a forklift injury fractured his shoulder, sidelining him from work. The company refused to pay damages, but Verrillo got a significant jury verdict for him.
“It was very meaningful to me because he was such a solid, good man…He ended up doing ministry, traveling ministry.”
We all sin and fall short, and the guilty need representation as well as the innocent. Verrillo nodded sympathetically when asked about these clients. “We want the person to move forward, the whole person,” he said. After getting the cases resolved, he encourages counseling.
“Whether it’s directed by the court or not, I don’t want them to be in that situation. We don’t get any joy out of their situation, so we don’t want them back.”
Verrillo would point his clients to Christian based counseling services, or services that have a personal, holistic approach. “We all have sinned. I don’t care what people believe. We all have shortcomings. Having the right attitude helps.”
A family man, he and his wife, Sonya, have two boys, and besides being an elder in his church, he is active with Scouts. Like any man who pours his heart into working with his clients, he said he loves hearing from them later.
“I love cards, emails. I get a lot out of that because it means a lot to me that people write or send me a card…even people I’ve known for many years who continue to contact me…We want to have long term relationships.”