Monthly Feature: Get to Know... Thomas Bezigian, Jr.
November 1, 2022
Many attorneys have no idea what area of the law they’ll devote their careers to until, as young associates, they apprentice in a firm’s departments and pare down the possibilities. Not so with Thomas Bezigian, Jr.
“I went to law school with the intention of practicing in estate planning,” said Bezigian, who joined Bond’s trust and estate practice in Syracuse in 2017 and is now the deputy chair of that practice. “I tried to avoid adversarial law. I didn’t want to be a litigator or practice criminal or matrimonial law. My goal was to help people and families and have happy clients. That was always the plan.”
The son of a successful plastics engineer, Tom “mostly” grew up in Central New York, after several early childhood moves to accommodate his father’s career that included Providence, Rhode Island and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The family eventually settled in Syracuse, where Thomas Sr. founded Great Lakes Technologies, a manufacturer of highly specialized coated papers, films and adhesives used in the medical, imaging, printing, industrial, automotive and packaging industries.
“Stuff used all the time all around the world,” Tom says. “We always had funny and interesting plastic samples around our house growing up.”
Unlike his brother, who works as a biotech chemist in Boston, Tom was not bitten by the science bug. But he did briefly consider following his father, who delivers occasional lectures as an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts, into academia. After graduating cum laude from Providence College with a bachelor’s degree in international history, Tom earned a master’s in the same subject from SUNY Albany and toyed with the idea of becoming a college history professor. Ultimately, he opted to attend Syracuse University College of Law so he could eventually help other history professors plan their financial futures.
As part of his practice, Tom helps businesses and families develop and put in place plans (e.g., wills, trusts, beneficiary designations, corporate succession) to grow, protect and transfer their assets in the most tax-efficient manner. Working with clients at what can seem like their darkest days – after the death of loved one, for example – has it challenges, he says. And its rewards.
“Lots of what I do requires me to serve in a therapist-type counselor role,” he says. “You encounter all sorts of intrafamily issues: children with one type of problem or another, people with disabilities who have special considerations, all kinds of family dynamics, and often in the context of the death of a family matriarch or patriarch. It’s the humbling part of my job, helping people when they’re at their lowest. I show them there’s a process and a path and tell them, ‘I can make certain parts of your life easier. I can give you one less thing to worry about.”
His clients run the gamut, with asset portfolios in the hundreds of millions to those with modest amounts.
“It’s one of the great equalizers. Everyone needs an estate plan,” he says. “If you have a billion or a thousand, one day we’ll all need a will for the same reason.”
When Tom isn’t helping to plan other people’s futures, he’s busy being present for his three active children, ages 9 to 14, who he shuttles to school events, swim meets, fencing practices, you name it.
Although Tom long ago surrendered his dreams of being a chalk-dusted college professor, he did get to spend some time in a classroom while on a U.S. State Department fellowship in the Republic of Armenia during law school. During those six months, he taught international relations and critical thinking at a linguistics university.
“It was a chance to go to the motherland,” says Bezigian, who grew up hearing Armenian spoken by relatives and attending an Armenian church. “It was truly an eye-opening experience. In my time there I learned not only about another culture, but gained invaluable perspective into my own culture and myself.”