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Why I Became a Lawyer

10/29/2014

I did not grow up with a burning desire to become a lawyer. On the contrary. When I was a kid, I did not think that working long hours going through stacks of paperwork seemed dynamic or interesting at all. Of course, I had no idea what lawyers did back then. (Frankly, I don't know what many of them do now but that's another story.)

After graduating from college with a business degree (dual major in finance and management) I took my enthusiasm and talents to look for a real job in the real world. Time for Jimmy to hop on the Great American Gravy Train! Well . . .  the old gravy train was not quite as advertised. My first post college job was in industrial sales. I did direct sales of welding materials to businesses, farmers and maintenance departments who needed to fix broken machines. The only way to sell my high priced (over priced) stuff was to pressure sell. Never take "no" for an answer. Push, push, push.

Needless to say, I detested this job and did poorly at it. After eight stressful months, I found myself out of work, living at my parents' home, and very discouraged.

It wasn't long after that I bumped into an old friend from the neighborhood who told me about his job as an insurance claims adjuster. This sounded very interesting. It sounded like something I could be very good at. I found out the insurance company was hiring and within a couple of months I found myself in the middle of a six week training program in the suburbs of Chicago for a large, well known insurance company.

My job as an insurance adjuster got my proverbial feet wet in the legal world. I was involved in things like handling workers' compensation claims for Detroit Lions football players to investigating multi-million dollar claims that were (at least on a couple of occasions) on the front page of the local newspaper. This was the stuff!  I liked being in the action and was good at my job. But, I was young and ambitious and wanted more.

I remember very clearly the night that I decided to go to law school. I was an "on call" adjuster that week. This meant that I carried a pager and had to be ready to respond day or night.  I was called out to investigate a very minor accident involving a very major customer or insured. This customer was a national parcel service delivery company who always, always got what they wanted. I did my job and was up all night chasing witnesses and taking pictures. I had been thinking for a while that I could do everything the lawyers I worked with could do, and perhaps, even better. Sometime during that long, sleepless, foolish night, I made my decision. I was going to become a lawyer someday no matter what it took.

So after four years of working during the day, and going to school at night and studying every waking moment, I got my juris doctor cum laude (with honors). I have now been practicing law for over twenty years and still love the excitement and challenge that I felt when I was a young claims adjuster. I am honored to be able to help the victims who have sustained tragic injuries. I am lucky to be able to have so many people put their faith in me and my craft.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please feel free to share your thoughts or impressions.

Tags: lawyer

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