Interviewed by: Ronni Bleich
Name: James Thanasules
NYSLTA Role: President-Elect
Company and Title: AmTrust Title Insurance Company, SVP & Chief New York State Counsel
Q. Why do you enjoy working with the NYSLTA?
A. It is a great way to keep abreast of the latest developments affecting our industry; share our ideas and knowledge; and keep in touch with colleagues, especially during the pandemic, where we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to. Within the title industry, there is lots of comradery. In many cases, we may be competitors but, at the end of the day, we are a close-knit industry.
Q. What do you plan to focus on this year, as president elect of the NYSLTA?
A. This is Jean’s year. We are working on many items that will likely seep into my year. Remote notary is a hot topic right now, as well as the new general Power of Attorney form. We are also focusing on amending Recommended Practices, choosing a few sections to tackle during each Executive Committee meeting. Jean is also focusing on advocacy and the mentorship program. We need new people to get involved, to keep the industry and NYSLTA alive and thriving.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I am really proud of our industry overall. Our industry is very time sensitive. We are resilient, tackle challenges and adapt to change, not only throughout the pandemic, but throughout the years. As far as myself, I am proud that I stayed with my title career and evolved in the industry as the industry evolved.
Q. What do you enjoy doing while not working?
A. I have been investing in real estate and have a few rental properties. It’s a handful, but I enjoy managing them.
Q. When did you start in the title business and how did you get started?
A. I was formerly an accountant and decided to go to law school. After law school, I worked for a couple of firms, dabbling in matrimonial, healthcare and immigration law. However, I always found myself working on the real estate transactions. One of the firms ordered their titles through Summit Associates and they told me that First American was starting a mentorship program for title trainees – they wanted newbies to train and I went for it! I thought I would stick it out for at least 6 months, that stint turned into 19 years and here we are today. I worked in many facets of title, including examining, reading, clearing, sales, claims and the list goes on. This opportunity gave me invaluable tools to use and allowed me to have a career in the title industry.
Q. Who is the most influential person to you (alive or deceased)?
A. My parents. They raised me to respect others, be a good person, and respect elders. They gave me good values. You come into this life the same way you leave – with nothing. Your integrity is everything.
Q. Do you have any pets? What’s he/she like?
A. I had a Lhasa Apso for 18 years and after she passed, I never got another. It’s a huge commitment but who knows, maybe I will get another one day.
Q. What did you want to be when you “grow up”?
A. I wanted to be an actor. I went to acting school and was in a few commercials. I had some very minor roles in a few movies, some Canadian. It was many years ago but I worked a bit with Jill Clayburgh, Dan Aykroyd, Mark Ruffalo and Jeffrey Tambor. I truly recommend acting classes to everyone – they teach you improvisation and help sharpen one’s public speaking skills and confidence.
Q. What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?
A. My parents were in the floral business for over 50 years. I can put together a floral arrangement, a wedding bouquet, a funeral piece, you name it! If you need a centerpiece, call me!
Q. Where is your favorite place in the world?
A. Greece. Growing up, I used to spend every summer in Nafpaktos, a small town a couple of hours away from Athens. I absolutely love going to Greece.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. I enjoy most comedies. Two of my favorites are “Seinfeld” and “The Golden Girls”.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or song quote?
A. “Snap out of it!” ~ Loretta Castorini (Cher’s character in “Moonstruck”). Side note: Read Ronni’s interview with Jean Partridge. Too weird!)
Q. What is one thing you have learned about yourself during this pandemic?
A. I am very resilient and adaptable to change. It made me examine who I am and taught me to be happy with myself. I can be my own best company!
Q. Have you tried anything new or different during this pandemic?
A. Zoom, Teams, and other virtual platforms!!! They are amazing. I use them to teach CLE’s, virtual meetings, and to interact with clients.