My decision to become an attorney was, no doubt, influenced by the fact my father was an attorney. Growing up around his law office in Des Moines gave me the opportunity to see how much satisfaction Dad and his partners got from helping people. It also showed me how sound advice can help clients and their families for generations. Of the many lessons I learned from my father about the practice of law these stand out: First, take care of your clients; second, never compromise your integrity; third, treat everyone with respect; and last, the practice of law is not about money, it’s about people.
After graduating from Drake University Law School, I did post-graduate work at Northwestern University and the University of Kansas and sampled several offerings from the professional buffet including tours of duty in law enforcement and in corporate America. Law enforcement took the challenge of helping people to a new level that I truly enjoyed. It also taught me how suddenly and drastically people’s lives can be changed forever. Corporate America taught me I prefer private practice. My father was right, the practice of law is about people. It is about relationships. It is about trust. I enjoy the fact many clients have become friends and friends have become clients.
So how did I go from being a general practitioner in rural Iowa, to chief litigation counsel for a national corporation, to business and estate planning in Kansas City? I have no idea, but I do know the catalyst that made me want to help people plan for their future and protection of their families. It was the accidental death of a young man with a wife and two children while his estate plan was laying on the corner of my desk waiting to be signed. It happened in my second year of practice and I will never forget it.
I am passionate about my practice. I make house calls, and my clients all have my cell phone number so they can reach me anytime, anyplace. Concerns don’t just pop up between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. I don’t want my clients upset all weekend because something happened Friday night and they couldn’t reach their attorney until Monday morning. I never want to lose sight of the fact that what may seem routine to me can be a crisis to a client who has never experienced it. I always want my clients to have my best effort and a sound investment in legal services. To a large extent my practice involves what we call asset protection. But when it comes right down to it, I am not protecting assets; I am protecting my clients, their families, and their businesses. It’s really no different than what I did as a law enforcement officer, just different tools.