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The crisp morning air has arrived, and the leaves have begun their yearly transformation. Trees have always been a“favorite thing”of mine, and I think I ammost fascinated by their leaves. Arriving as blossoming buds, they morph into resilient, green leaves, withstanding wind, rain, and blistering sun rays, only to change into the warm, welcoming orange, red, and golden colors of autumn. Then they calmly float to the ground as winter nears. When I look at my life, I see various transformations from one phase to the next, much like the transformations of a leaf —going fromwhat is comfortable and working for me at a moment in time (like leaves in the summer) to taking a risk and doing something differently (like leaves in the fall), not knowing exactly what the next phase will be, but knowing I will again bloom and transform. I’ve been practicing law for four years, but it wasn’t always a career path I thought I would follow. I didn’t give law, as a career, serious thought until after college, although I had done some work around the Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin law firm and I had grown up around law, thanks to my dad, Steve Fleschner. During my summers in high school and college, I worked as a case assistant at the firm, often reviewing and highlighting medical records. I also spent time working behind the receptionist desk, answering phones, making copies of documents, and sending faxes. I enjoyed the work, but I did not see the part- time summer job as leading to my career. In fact, I graduated from college with degrees in biology and business. My“transforming moment”came after college. While applying for jobs related to my degrees, I was also working as a case analyst and brief writer for the firm’s Social Security Disability department. When I received notification that one of our clients had been awarded disability benefits, and I had written the brief for that client’s hearing, I felt this overwhelming sense of pride and purpose. I saw howmy work as a brief writer and the work of the firm had changed someone’s
life. So, I decided to do something differently. I quit applying for other jobs, and instead I applied to law school. I will joke and say that during the three years I spent in law school I was definitely in the phase of a“fallen, brown leaf on the ground,”due to little sleep and tons of studying and exam-taking. However, just as spring always arrives, so did law school graduation, and after passing the bar exam, I entered my new phase as an attorney. Through that life change, I’ve been able to help people more than I could before. When a person comes to us for help with a personal injury case, he or she walks through the door injured, often struggling to make ends meet, and having gone through a traumatic experience. Often, all that person wants is help getting to the next step, and that’s where I come in. It’s remarkable to see the change in people fromwhen they first walk in the office to the day their cases are over. You can see a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. I’m so thankful I’m in a place where I can make that kind of difference. And that brings me to the next thing I love about this time of year — the reminder to be thankful. There are so many things I am thankful for, and it is difficult to put into words my gratitude for so much, but I am so very thankful for my family. Through all of these stages, these life changes, thriving seasons and difficult seasons, I have had family members who I can count on. There is always someone I can talk to, spend time with, laugh with, or have a conversation with —no matter the situation. I wish this blessing on all of you at this time of year. I’m looking forward to seeing my family and extended family at Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving Day has always been a huge event for our family, as far back as I can remember. We often have up to 100 people (that’s no typo!) gather around every available table, catch up with one another, eat wonderfully delicious food, and just spend time together. I can’t wait to spend the day with family — and sample the tasty mashed potatoes, noodles, and pumpkin pie! From all of us at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. – Katie Fleschner McMullen
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