When I graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and passed the Florida Bar exam in 1985, I still had no idea how I was called to “help people”. At first, I was a lawyer for large corporations. It didn’t fit. I changed my focus to helping victims of personal injuries. To be for the underdog. Deciding to serve everyday people made ALL the difference for me in my professional life.
There is so much I love about being your lawyer. Can I share it with you?
I have gotten to know many of you deeply and to learn about your families and careers. This has been rewarding. Without being your lawyer, I would have never understood what it takes to be a marine helicopter search and rescue personnel, a horse race timer, a limousine driver, an inner-city school teacher, a professional fisherman, a 911 operator, a safe-routes-to-school coordinator, a homicide investigator, a critical care physician, or the first-chair trumpet in the FAMU marching band.
I have witnessed courage from you that I cannot fairly describe. I have seen a single mother in her 20s, suffering from paralysis from the neck down, be genuinely grateful and joyous and thankful until she died prematurely.
I have been at your side in your most private moments, when you lost your spouse or your child, and have seen how you somehow find strength.
I have more admiration for you than I could hold for a glamorous sports star or celebrity or political figure. It is astounding to witness your suffering pain while maintaining optimism, having exhaustion while showing acceptance, or dealing with a personal tragedy while choosing to think about other people instead. You usually muster these traits quietly and patiently.
I have been inspired by your remarkable displays of faith and spirituality in all forms, religious and otherwise. You have been a profound influence on my own faith journey.
I have seen how much you care about your world. When it would be easy to draw inward, with all of the challenges caused by your accidents or injuries, I have seen you make enormous contributions to others.
You have cared for me. It was supposed to be my role to aid you. Often, I have been gifted by your own comfort or support or guidance.
On my 35th anniversary, I don’t want to think about me. I have gratitude for you. Thank you for being my friend and my role model for how to handle adversity with dignity and love.