Personal touch sets Allinotte apart
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
Approachability is the key to Cornwall wills and estates lawyer Michele Allinotte’s practice.
Allinotte, the owner of Allinotte Law Office Professional Corporation, has always looked younger than her years, and she tells AdvocateDaily.com she’s happy to take advantage of that fact if it makes clients feel more comfortable.
“It can be a scary experience for someone visiting a law office for the first time, so I try to make it as accessible as possible,” she says. “I don’t look like a typical lawyer; I’m much younger than people expect, and I try to be approachable and easy-going. For many people, they’re going to feel more relaxed than if I was a six-foot-six tall man with a loud booming voice.”
But don't mistake her youthful appearance as an indication that she's too young to handle complex and detailed cases.
"I've helped a variety of clients with their estate planning needs, and every situation is different and demands a unique solution," Allinotte says.
While some lawyers remember clients by their file number, Allinotte says she’s more likely to recall them by name.
“Our focus is on good customer service and knowing clients as people. Many have been with us for a long time, and it’s nice to be able to accompany them through their life changes,” she says.
The approach has helped the firm become a fixture in the eastern Ontario town since its opening in 2009. It marked a homecoming for Allinotte, who spent much of her childhood in Cornwall, and developed a taste for the legal profession in those early days.
“From the time I was in high school, I was always pretty analytical and outspoken, and loved advocating for people,” she says.
In addition, her father’s occupation as a policeman, including a spell as a court officer, gave her an early introduction to the law.
“He knew the local Crowns, and lawyers would come to our house for supper,” Allinotte says.
After graduating from the University of Ottawa’s faculty of law, Allinotte was called to the bar in 2002, and worked with a firm in Cornwall, then moved and worked for a firm in North Bay, before returning home to Cornwall, where she eventually started her own firm.
Initially drawn to family law during law school and her first year of practice, she switched her focus to real estate, business and trusts and estates law, which now form the basis of her practice.
“It’s a great deal of work, but it’s been wonderful. It’s nice to have a bit of flexibility, rather than working for somebody else,” Allinotte says.
Over the years, she has been active in the local and legal community, creating groups for female lawyers and arranging networking events for young professionals.
“Volunteers make the world go round, and it was a big part of my parents' lives, which is probably where I got some of that,” Allinotte says.
At the moment, as a single mother to two children, as well as having responsibility for her sole practice, she has a full plate. However, she won’t rule out a future run for bencher, to join the governing body of the Law Society of Ontario.
“As a younger female non-litigator from outside Toronto, I don't believe our voices are necessarily being heard nor are we even sitting around the table right now,” Allinotte says. “It can be very frustrating when decisions are made that might make sense for Toronto but don't really apply in smaller communities around the province.”