If I had to give a simple answer as to why I became an attorney and decided to practice law, I would give two reasons. First, personally and due to my faith, I wanted to serve others. There are few ways more effective in serving others than to be their legal advocate. Secondly, I was inspired by Atticus Finch, Harper Lee’s fictional attorney from To Kill a Mockingbird. He inspired me by both his high moral standard and his service to those less fortunate. Yes, I would consider chickens for payment!
I received both my undergraduate degree and a law degree from Florida State University.
Two highlights from my law school days were my involvement in a Juvenile and Child Dependency clinic and my time enrolled in a trial seminar by Professor Charles Ehrhardt.
The clinic allowed me to be certified to practice law prior to graduating from law school. I actually tried my first real case in Juvenile Court while still a 3rd-year law student. The trial seminar was such an incredible opportunity that I actually delayed my own graduation for a summer to attend. Professor Charles Ehrhardt, aka “Mr. Florida Evidence,” actually wrote the book on Florida evidence.
After law school, I took my newly learned trial skills and started working at the Florida 9th Circuit, and later the Florida 5th Circuit, Public Defender’s office. I still remember my first day on the job. I was shown my desk and a pile of fifty cases that were set for trial just the following week. It only took me a few years to understand that I would not be able to juggle the pressures of a full-time trial attorney as well as the needs of my growing family. If I wanted to be a real presence in my wife’s and children’s lives, I would need to make a change.
In 2003 I opened my first solo law practice in Holly Hill, FL. Since then, I have been either the sole owner or majority partner in my practice. My practice has, at its largest, had four offices from Jacksonville all the way to Tampa with six attorneys and all the support staff necessary. I was blessed with a couple of great partners and many excellent employees. I have filed thousands of bankruptcies and represented thousands of clients in foreclosures and other matters. During the years, I’ve been involved in many different business endeavors. Betterbankruptcy.com was a successful legal marketing business I developed and later sold. It was a lot of fun and very successful, but personally, I think I’ll stick to the small-time country lawyer thing for the rest of my life.
During all of this, my wonderful wife Alyssa and I were blessed with five children. All of which are way above average and highly talented. (Really! Just ask us.)