Today marks one year of practicing family law and being a member of O’Neil Wysocki. Over the course of this year, I feel as though I can honestly say that I am doing what I am meant to do. Coming out of law school I knew I wanted to be a litigator, and at the time I thought I wanted to practice in the field of personal injury. But after ten months and two different firms I quickly found out that was not where I belonged.
At my first firm, I was hired onto the talc docket in the mass torts department. During my five months with the firm, I felt like I was an attorney in title alone. In reality I was not practicing law, or even doing work that required a legal degree. I was cold calling clients regarding their medical records and entering data into excel spreadsheets.
Then my second firm came calling and let me tell you they promised me the world. I was told that I would receive top notch litigation training from seasoned attorneys and get experience drafting and filing various legal documents. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a lot of talk with very little action. The training consisted of giving us a phone that had to be answered 24/7 so that to be sent out to various places in the city to sign new clients. There were more than a few times this put us in dangerous positions. I was sent to places you wouldn’t want to be in a suit during the day, let alone at 10 PM. Of the seven of us hired at the time, one remains. The rest of us figured out that after six months the litigation training promised to us, wasn’t coming.
And just when I was ready to accept my fate as a cog in a corporate machine, here comes O’Neil Wysocki. When I was interviewed, I’ll admit I was skeptical after being burned so badly by my previous firm. But it turned out I had no reason to be. Since day one they have kept every single promise they made. In my first four months with the firm, I drafted several legal documents, had multiple hearings, and sat in on a week-long jury trial. I’ve been taught how to draft more persuasively, how to argue more effectively, how to handle opposing counsel, and how to maneuver the politics of the legal profession. From the paralegals to the partners themselves I’m learning from every single person in the firm.
When I was at my second firm I barely had time to go to the gym, let alone network. I knew one judge and that was through family connections. Now, I know every family court judge in Dallas County, and they know me. I have several in firm and out of firm mentors, I’ve met a Texas Supreme Court Justice, and I have my own column in a local newspaper (check out Elite News every Friday). It hasn’t been since my professors in law school that I have had people care about my professional and personal development to this level. People outside of the office ask why I always speak so highly of where I work, and it’s simply because it’s deserved.
What I know now compared to what I knew a year ago is like night and day. When I graduated law school I wanted nothing to do with family law, and now I honestly don’t know how I could practice in any other field. It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to what I will learn in year two.