I’ve been spending a lot of time on growing my business, and thought it would be good to reflect on how and why I got here. My life has changed drastically over just the last five years. Over a period of five years, I moved to a new city to start law school, had my third child, went through a divorce, and started my own law practice. Five years ago I had what would appear to be the American dream. I owned a nice home, had 2 wonderful boys with a woman I’d been married to for over 10 years, and had a stable job as a mailman for the USPS. I say job, not career, because just like each of my previous jobs, I knew right away I could not spend the next 20 years there doing the exact same thing every day in the same place with the same scenery. Before becoming a postal worker, I had already worked as a teller at a bank, a loan officer selling home mortgages, a wholesale rep for a mortgage lender, a bus boy and server at a steakhouse, an appliance salesman at Lowe's (despite the schedule, quite possibly the best job I ever had prior to becoming an attorney), a day laborer, and a construction supervisor. This was all after interning to be a stock broker while in college (the first time). I had even taken a short stint to completely gut and remodel a house that I bought out of foreclosure, acting as an electrician, carpenter, plumber, and tile worker. There was nothing I could not do if I put my mind to it.
When I grew tired of one job I moved on to the next with the hopes of finding something more challenging and more rewarding. It wasn’t until I had children that I really began to think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Changing jobs like some people change clothes wasn’t going to be a great game plan anymore now that I had two little mouths counting on me for at least another 18 years or so.
I sat down one evening and reflected on all the jobs I had done and what experiences I had enjoyed the most. What I had enjoyed most was helping people, feeling like I had accomplished something, and being able to learn new things. None of these criteria were met in my current position as mail carrier, something that felt like being a factory worker with a slight bit more social interaction. The next step for me was to find a career that would check each of my boxes. I can’t stand the sight of blood, so being a surgeon was out. I didn’t have the capital to be a real estate developer so that was out. "I know, I’ll become a lawyer" I thought. I could solve people’s problems, there’s always something new to learn, and I knew winning a big case had to feel just as good or better than standing back and looking at the house you just built.
I signed up for classes at the University I had dropped out of 10 years prior where I received my first dose of the legal field. I picked the brains of my professors who were, or had previously been, attorneys, including one professor who was a family law judge. (He has since had the privilege of moving himself and his family to Tallahassee to serve as a First District Court of Appeals Judge.) I was enthralled with the law. Legal philosophy, criminal procedure, how to argue a motion, it was all fascinating to me, especially being in court. I knew I’d finally found the right profession.
Shortly after going back to school, I met Dean Laura Zuppo from Stetson Law during a law school fair. She informed me that my grades were good enough to take part of a new program that allows students to spend their last year of undergrad as a 1L in law school. The best part was there was a scholarship that went with it. All I had to do was get a good enough score on the LSAT……in less than a month.
I knew some people studied for the LSAT, taking prep courses to maximize their LSAT score. I, however, was currently enrolled full-time in college, working a full-time job as a mail carrier, and had two young children at home. I didn’t have time to study! Still, I spent a few hours reading about how the test works and what kind of questions would be asked. After that I took a full-length practice test, which made me realize timing may be the most important part of the LSAT. My crash course was enough to allow me to get the score I needed to be the first student from University of West Florida admitted to their new 3+3 early admission program and begin my new career path as a divorce attorney.
Things truly are different now. I now have three amazing sons that always keep me on my toes. I have met some of the most amazing people over the last few years with whom I am able to share the joys and hardships of being a lawyer. I am happy my journey has led me to becoming a divorce and family law attorney and a part of the rewarding legal profession. I look forward to many more years of learning, being able to help people solve their legal problems, and accomplishing great things for myself and my clients.