HE SAYS:

This is a personal story of perseverance told not to elevate myself but to show how circumstances can push you to overcome setbacks you may encounter in reaching your goals.   In my case, each career crisis that I faced occurred around the time each of my children was born.  At the time, I looked at each situation separately and did not recognize the coincidence or understand how it helped motivate me.   It is only in hindsight that I was able to connect the dots and realize that I was encouraged to persevere by the desire to succeed for the sake of my children.

In early 1982, as a young lawyer, I found that my law career was not fulfilling enough and I decided that I would start to become more involved in trial work.   There are some lawyers who believe that you do not truly practice law unless you are in a courtroom and I started to feel that way.  By August of 1982, I had worked out an arrangement with a small law firm that primarily did contested divorces and they wanted to expand their personal injury practice.   I rented office space from them and agreed to suspend most of my own practice in order to work as an independent counsel to manage and pursue their personal injury cases, including the trials and appeals, for a percentage of their contingency fees.

Since personal injury cases can take a long time to bring to a conclusion, it took me many months before I started to see any real money from this arrangement.   It was difficult for a while but, eventually, I grew the personal injury practice and increased my income substantially.   As it happened, my sons Matthew and Michael were born in November of 1982.   This was not an ideal time to take such a big chance with the direction of my career.

By the fall of 1984, the small law firm that I was involved with was breaking up and during the winter and spring of 1985 a dispute arose over the personal injury files.  This dispute escalated into a full blown law suit over the control of the files and the money they would produce.   Since I was not the attorney of record, I did not have any direct legal rights to the files and was forced to also sue in order to assert my claim on the money generated from my work.  There is nothing more explosive than when lawyers are suing each other over money.

Needless to say, I had to leave and open a new office.   To make matters worse, I had to leave all of the files behind and the money from the files I had worked on was now tied up in court and not available to me.   By that time, almost my entire practice had been devoted to those files, and now I had to start over with few clients and little prospects of any money until I could build up my practice.   Fortunately, some of the former clients ultimately brought their files to me and retained me directly.   It took a long time to bring my practice back to the level of income I had enjoyed and, eventually, I surpassed the success I had attained while working with the other firm.   As it happened, my son Joseph was born in May, 1985.   This was not an ideal time to have to start my career over again.

In January 1989, I bought into a large office building that my brother was renovating for USFSB.   The renovated building included a floor of professional offices.    In the fall of 1989, I decided to move my office to this building.   Since this building was in a different city than where I practiced law, I saw a large and unexpected drop in my business.   It took me well over a year to establish myself in this new community and build my practice back up to its former success.   As it happened, my daughter Julia was born in January, 1990.  This was not an ideal time to suffer such a career setback.

In each case, perseverance and, I believe, the fact that my children needed me to succeed helped me focus on my goal to prosper as a self-employed attorney.

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