LAW OFFICE MONAST
www.monastlaw.com | 614-334-4649 | 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd. Bldg 2, Suite 2117, Upper Arlington, OH 43220-2913
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH MY UNEXPECTED NEW START
W ith Halloween coming up at the end of October, this whole month focuses on things that scare us. Horror movies and haunted houses are one thing, but this month, I want to talk about something that was really scary. One of the scariest things I have ever done was split from my law partner after practicing together for almost 24 years. After I graduated from law school, I worked a few years at the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as a staff attorney. I then worked at a private practice for about a year until I got a call frommy old fraternity brother. Tom, who had become a lawyer too, was working for his dad, a man named Joe Marchese. Joe had an excellent reputation in our field and was a great mentor. I was happy to work at his firm as an associate. When Joe retired after a few years, Tom and I took over the practice as partners. Tom and I had different working styles, but they complemented each other. We both handled workers’compensation cases, and I also did our Social Security work. We never worried about competing for clients. Our business had its ups and downs, but it was a good run. After 24 years of working together, Tom decided he wanted to spend his last years working solo. It came as a surprise, but we parted amicably. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean things were easy. Law school teaches you how to be a good lawyer, but it doesn’t teach you how to be a businessman. If you want to run your own practice, you have to be both. Several people suggested I return to the BWC or join another firm. But, after being my own boss for a couple decades, I would not work for someone else again. At my old practice, Tom had handled the business side of things. I’d put my energy into working with clients and going to hearings. Suddenly I had to find a new office space, market to new clients, and learn how to run a business all on my own. It was downright paralyzing.
Going through a partnership split is like getting divorced. I found my life turned completely upside down, and the future was uncertain. Thankfully, I wasn’t in it all alone. Wilma and her daughter Lisa went with me from our old practice, for which I am forever grateful. Wilma had been my right hand for 10 years; she knew how I worked and our clients loved her. She and my wife, Amy, kept me on an even keel and helped start the new practice. I also had a great accountant at the time and a lot of colleagues who’d split from their practices and knew the pitfalls. God bless them; they were willing to share their experience, strength, and hope.
That’s how the cookie crumbles! We celebrated our grand opening with customized treats.
Right after the split, I was terrified. In my first year, with a mortgage and sons in high school and college, I only made $13,000 — that’s below the poverty line. But I had savings and a home equity line. Plus, I loved working with my clients, and I would not give up representing them when things were tough. There were growing pains and learning experiences, but today I’m proud to say we’re in a good place. This is thanks to the great team, a wonderful wife behind me, and the clients who have supported us over the last six years.
This experience was a reminder that no matter how tough things get, good things can come if you don’t give up.
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