The following is an interview with Joseph Shun Ravago.
1. You were admitted to the Illinois State Bar in 1998. When did you get your CPA? Is this like passing the bar?
Ravago: The CPA exam is harder than the bar, and I passed it in 1995 while in law school.
2. Do you have any notable clients that you worked for, either as a consultant or in your previous job?
Ravago: I worked for Arthur Andersen, LLP as a tax consultant and worked on fortune 500 company accounts on international taxation, and mergers & acquisition issues including Illinois Tool Works and Hyatt Corp.
3. What do you like about your work? What motivates you in doing it?
Ravago: I had many options after graduating law school, including the FBI, law firms and private corporations. After working at Arthur Andersen, I realized that I could use my experience and education to help the community. Many people asked me why someone with a law degree, CPA and a finance and accounting degree didn’t choose to work on Wall Street or another large firm. Since 2000, I have been practicing law in the Filipino and Hispanic communities because I feel that I can use my God-given talents and blessings to serve clients who otherwise would not receive the same level of service because of the limited availability of experienced attorneys in these communities who actually practice in the community.
One of the things that separates me from other attorneys is my ability to look at the big picture and see how a case may start out as one type of case but has effects in other areas of the law. Most attorneys have only a narrow perspective and cannot identity the other possible issues. This holds true with my corporate clients as well. Since I am a CPA and lawyer I understand both the legal and business side.
4. What kind of legal climate is out there that people need to be aware of? For example, what about the many debt-consolidation companies that you see advertised?
Ravago: Currently there are many issues that intimidate clients, including debt and the need to file bankruptcy, tax and IRS issues, immigration issues and foreclosure cases. There are many non-legal companies that try to provide solutions such as debt consolidation or tax solution companies. They can make lofty promises and yet not face any negative ramifications if they fail because they are not regulated or licensed. Attorneys cannot make those promises because we have to answer to our licensing board.
5. What should a person look for in choosing an attorney?
Ravago: I believe when an individual chooses an attorney, the final choice between two equally qualified candidates comes down to personality. Legal issues can be scary and intimidating, and clients want someone who, after they leave their office, their fears are lowered and they’ve regained somewhat piece of mind. Many clients claim that after talking to me, they feel relieved about their situation regardless of its complexity.
6. Do you have any accomplishments of which you are proud?
Ravago: In 2009, I was invested in the Sacred Constantinian Order of St. George, which is one of the oldest orders of knighthood. I was asked to join because of my continued contribution and charitable works in the community.
Also in 2009, I finished the Ironman competition in Louisville,KY. The Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run that needs to be completed in 17 hours.