Starkville — They talked about it for years, got a lot of varied experience with law firms of different sizes and paid their dues. Then these three young professionals came home to Starkville and opened a law firm that they believe can provide anything clients need.
John F. “Jay” Perry III and Charles E. Winfield established Perry & Winfield, P.A. in April 2004. Joy Wolfe joined the firm in November 2005, and it became Perry, Winfield & Wolfe.
“We needed some age, beauty and wisdom, so we brought in Joy,” Jay Perry says.
Changing the way people think
Perry and Winfield are both 33 and Wolfe is 34.
However, Perry adds, “We always wanted to come home. Charlie and I even have old letterhead with a fictitious address for a law firm. We want to change the way people think. We are not limited by being a three-person firm in a small town. I would put our abilities against anyone’s. You don’t have to have a 100-lawyer firm. We can bring the same service to clients, and we can do things here that are being done in big cities.”
Charlie Winfield says mid-size firms are disappearing in the legal market as more firms merge.
“With smaller firms, everybody is involved with every client,” he said. “The client has the attention of everyone in the firm. That can keep costs and fees down. We have quality and responsiveness that you won’t find anywhere.”
Wolfe says the that the firm offers the advantage of being involved in the community. “We’re here and can relate to people and know the mind set of the town,” she said. “We’re accessible and convenient. People can talk to us.”
They’re involved with local civic organizations, charities and churches. Perry likes having lunch every Monday at a local restaurant with people of varied backgrounds. Still, he and Winfield wear suits every day, wanting to be recognized as the professionals they are.
Starkville’s newest law firm is located at the corner of Main and Jackson streets. Wolfe says it’s a great location for them and a short walk to the courthouse. In addition to the partners, the firm employs three people. They hope to grow — but not for the sake of growth.
“The response has been good, and we wonder where we’ll put more people,” Winfield said. “We want to stay a small, cohesive unit. I see us being six to eight people. We’re all happy being here. Starkville is a good place to be.”
The firm is licensed in Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and the District of Columbia. They have practiced in firms of all sizes with experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in litigation and in handling many types of corporate, real estate, estate, insurance, criminal and domestic matters.
Perry clerked in the State Supreme Court and has argued in federal District Court. Wolfe was the assistant in-house counsel for the University of Southern Mississippi and in private practice saw every kind of insurance case imaginable. Winfield worked for a 2,000-member firm in Dallas and is currently representing an engineering firm in connection with work performed in the construction of a 730-megawatt power plant in Texas.
“We are bringing our different backgrounds to this practice and melding those experiences into what we’re trying to do here,” Wolfe said. “We do just about everything. We haven’t said no to anything yet.”
She adds that the threesome has seen what works and doesn’t work. They are not set in their ways and are open to suggestions.
Statewide, regional, national
Perry says the firm doesn’t view itself as just a local firm. “We can work from anywhere and try to be on the cutting edge of technology that helps us give a better product,” he said. “We are statewide, regional and even national, but we just happen to be in Starkville. We have the ability to be adaptable and have the vision to think outside the box.”
All three have been pleased with the response in their hometown. “The support has been great,” Wolfe said. “We had an announcement in the paper, and people who have never set foot in a law office have been coming by to say they’re glad we’re here.”
Perry says it has been overwhelming. “The response has been remarkable. Everyone knows our families and we’ve had case referrals in the area,” he said.
They see a bright future for the area, too.
“I think we’ll see growth business- wise here, and we wanted to be on the front end of that,” Winfield said.
If he could get one message out about this new law firm, Perry says it would be to let clients, potential clients and other law firms know they’re capable of doing the job.
Wolfe says it would be that bigger doesn’t always mean better.
“That’s not a slam against large firms but there is a place for a firm this size,” she said.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.