Life is comprised of a series of events that form our character and direct our course. Like clay in the hands of a potter, my life experiences continue to shape and mold me. My profession as an attorney is not the result of any intentional or deliberate plan but rather a product of culminating life-altering experiences.
I have identified three periods in my life that have had the greatest impact in steering my choices on the pathway to be an attorney. The first story describes the source of my genuine desire to help and serve people; the second story describes my trek into the legal profession; and the third story describes the circumstances that led to starting my own small firm. (I’ll get to the second and third stories in the weeks to come.)
In June of 2002, I was 17 and had just completed my junior year of high school in Salisbury. One night, I distinctly recall sleeping on a sidewalk outside of a Wal-Mart, alone and sad. After a falling out with my family, all I possessed were the clothes in my school bag and a basketball. I was reluctant and hesitant to ask for help and wasn’t sure who to call. I had recently started attending church regularly and decided to reach out to my youth pastor for help. Very early the next morning, I was picked up and provided a place to sleep.
That summer, I spent my nights sleeping on the couch in the home of my youth pastor and his college roommates. I worked during the day as an auto mechanic at a Honda dealership and I wiped tables, emptied the trash and cleaned bathrooms at an Arby’s restaurant at night. On Saturday mornings, I worked at a fitness center helping out and wiping down gym equipment. I worked an average of 80 hours a week that summer.
I rarely spoke about my circumstances, but word quickly spread. My boss at the fitness center provided me a place to stay at his father’s home. Although it was offered for free, I insisted on paying some rent to help with the cost of utilities. I didn’t have a vehicle at the time, but the family of one of my classmates generously donated a car to me.
During my senior year of high school, without fail, one of my classmates would bring me a packed lunch everyday. A guidance counselor at my school, who wasn’t even assigned to me, strongly encouraged me to apply and attend college even though my plan was to forgo college and work full time as an auto mechanic.
I remember spending the holidays with a number of my classmates’ families who warmly opened their homes to me. For Christmas, I came home to find my room filled with wrapped presents including a warm winter coat. To this day, I don’t know the source of those gifts, but am truly grateful.
That year, my wresting coaches and one of my teachers provided me money to enjoy and attend my senior prom. Other then that night in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I never asked for help, yet people graciously and generously provided for me. I had never experienced such an outpouring of love and generosity in my life.
I have identified this period in my life as the source of my genuine desire to help and serve people. I didn’t know at the time that I would one day become an attorney, nor had I determined in my mind that I wanted to be an attorney. All I knew is that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people. I wanted to one day be the help that others were to me.