LUMBERTON — Commissioner Tom Taylor couldn’t be happier with the county’s hiring of Lumberton lawyer Patrick Pait as its new full-time attorney.
“I think he is going to be a real asset to the county,” Taylor said Tuesday. “He’s a people person. He’s a real go-getter.”
On Monday, the commissioners hired Pait, 30, to replace longtime County Attorney Hal Kinlaw, who resigned in June 2013. Pait is a county native, having graduated from Lumberton High School in 2002. He then went on to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated with degrees in political science and exercise and sports science.
Pait was a member of the 2009 graduating class of Cambell University Law School. Immediately after earning his law degree he went to work with Lumberton attorney Bruce Jobe, where he continues to practice civil litigation and criminal law.
Pait, who also helps run his family’s farm located off Deep Branch Road, said he is looking forward to working for the county.
“My plans were always to come back to Robeson County. I was born and raised here,” he said. “I’m very excited about the opportunities this job will offer me to get out into the county and help a larger number of people. My practice is more personal now, but I like the idea of being able to make a bigger impact on the people in Robeson County.”
Pait said he developed a strong interest in county government at a young age. He is the grandson of Jack Pait, a Robeson County commissioner back in the early 1960s.
“My grandad and I would sit around and talk about politics and the issues in Robeson County,” he said.
Pait said that there are still some things that have to be finalized in his contract, but he hopes to be on the job by the next county commissioners’ meeting on June 16.
“I hope to start next week setting things up and catching up where we (the county) stand on issues. Mr. Harris (County Manager Ricky Harris) and the county commissioners have given me their visions and ideas on where they want the county to go,” he said. “Hal (Kinlaw) has also been very helpful. He is sharp and his knowledge of the county, the law, and his more than 20 years of experience as county attorney will be invaluable to me.”
Pait, according to Harris, will be starting at a salary of between $110,000 and $125,000 a year. Kinlaw was making about $180,000 in salary when he resigned.
Since his resignation, Kinlaw has still been on the county payroll with a $5,000 a month retainer. The county has also used three interim attorneys, including two, retired Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear and Kimberly Jones, who are still handling county legal affairs.
Pait was selected by the commissioners from nine original applicants for the job, including six who were local, according to Harris.