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A focus to create the right niche

Growing up in Westmoreland, Oneida County, Brett Farrow started planning his career, often while doing chores. Having time to think, he says, helped him dream big.

“What I’ve always tried to do is create goals of where I want to be,” Farrow says. “The path may change and the path may shift, but what are the things that I personally wanted in my career?

“I spent a lot of time on a lawnmower … and had nothing else to do but think,” he adds.

Farrow says he always knew he would earn an MBA and build a business. But he didn’t expect to earn a law degree along the way. Today he is a co-founder and one of six partners in Pullano & Farrow PLLC.

Farrow graduated from Union College in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He continued at Union, completing an MBA in health care administration a year later, followed by Albany Law School, where he earned his law degree in 2004.

Law was not his original plan, Farrow says. From a young age, he gravitated toward medicine and figured he would become a doctor. He spent a semester abroad during college comparing the health care systems of England, the Netherlands and Hungary.

During an internship at Rome Memorial Hospital, Farrow realized an MBA would be a logical next step. It would give him a chance to build something—whether that was a health care system or a company.

“I was more interested in pre-med, and I’m a biology major, which is rare among attorneys,” Farrow says. “I applied for (the MBA program) and got accepted in the accelerated program, still with the intent to become a doctor. But when I got into the MBA program, what I was experiencing was not what I had originally thought, and I really liked it. … What I liked was the social makeup of how you build a nationalized health insurance or health care system.”

After earning his law degree, Farrow worked at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP and Harter Secrest & Emery LLP. He became adept at networking early in his career—something that helps him to this day, he says.

“Where I got today is in large part due to the people that were around me,” Farrow says. “Those relationships I built early on in my career—from day one practicing law—they’re here with me. Facebook is not enough; LinkedIn is not enough.”

While he enjoyed working at both firms, Farrow was not applying his medical background.

“We would do things for local publicly traded corporations, and I liked it, but I spent this time in my life and I went to all these law school classes on health care, and so I started to look for an opportunity,” he says.

In 2013, Farrow and Patrick Pullano, a friend and colleague at Harter Secrest, opened their own practice. They saw an opportunity in working with small, privately held firms.

Today the practice employs more than 20 people and handles general corporate matters, litigation, trusts and estates, and health care business. They want to keep expanding while retaining personal interactions with clients, Farrow says.

“I think the biggest thing that has been surprising about the industry—we’re going against the grain in some regards—is being in the office exclusively,” Farrow says. “Meetings (used to be) much more common face-to-face with clients, and due to technology—we all have our iPhones and all this stuff—we got away from that. So we’ve tried to reverse that trend and go out to clients.”

Farrow likes leading a team and refining the company’s vision of the future.

“I found my niche,” he says. “I loved the business side of building out all the different pieces—not just my practice, but assisting and bringing together a very talented group of not just legal professionals but a lot of different professionals to build a company.”

#TeamPXY with Carter and Corey on 98PXY is a partner with Fast Start. Listen on Monday from 6 to 10 a.m. for their interview with Brett Farrow.

10/14/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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