Dickerson Oxton August 2018

816-268-1960 | 913-428-8220 www.dickersonoxton.com

AUG. 2018

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Finding My Calling FROM JOURNALISM TO LAW Last month, Tom shared his story of what led him to become a lawyer. So as his partner in marriage and in law, I’d like to complete the picture by sharing with you my own journey into the legal world. After all, the last thing Tom and I want to be to our clients is strangers! public defender’s office, helping to defend the rights of people accused of crimes. While I didn’t see myself going into criminal law, I was inspired by the selflessness of those public defenders and found

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the work of standing up for the little guy against federal prosecutors extremely rewarding. I was finally doing what I’d wanted with my journalism degree: I was helping give voice to people in need. Then graduation came, and Tom and I found ourselves starting our lives together. We moved to Kansas City after Tom got a position at a big firm, and life felt like it was going to be pretty straightforward for a while. But it soon became clear that we needed to be our own bosses. Tom and I share a passion for doing the right thing, and that sort of attitude doesn’t always agree with the structure of those big, one-size-fits-all firms. So long story short, Tom quit his job in less than three weeks, and we found ourselves creating this firm together. It was like jumping into the deep end. Both of us were fresh out of law school and had no management experience, but we somehow made it work. I still remember one of the first clients we had back when we were at our first location in a strip mall. We were approached by a young man and his family after a motorcycle accident had left him with a traumatic brain injury. He would live with the disabilities for the rest of his life, yet the insurance company didn’t want to give him a cent. The family had already been turned down by another attorney, and we could see why. It was far from a clear-cut case, and establishing fault was going to be an uphill battle. But we didn’t start this firm to turn away people because helping them would be hard. We fought tooth and nail with the insurance adjusters and finally got the results our client wanted. Seeing the look of sheer relief on that young man’s face when he came in with his father to pick up his check was deeply moving. I knew then that I’d found my calling. Eight years later, Tom and I still love what we do. We may have a larger office and a bigger team around us now, but at the end of the day, we get to help give a voice to the voiceless.

What surprises many people when I tell this story is that I didn’t initially want to be a lawyer at all. Throughout my undergraduate years, I had my heart set on becoming a journalist. I wrote for the school paper, secured internships, and jumped through all the hoops the industry expects a young reporter to go through. But the further I got into the industry, the less I liked it. Local journalism just wasn’t very intellectually stimulating. I wanted to be out in the world, telling real people’s stories and making a difference for them. Instead, I was largely stranded behind a desk. I began thinking of other careers that could play to my strengths, where my talents for writing and research could be leveraged to help people. I brought this up with my parents, and my dad was quick to remind me that I had one other talent I was overlooking. He said, “Well, you’ve always been good at arguing,” and suggested I look into law school. For those of you who remember Tom’s story from last month — yes, both he and I decided to study law thanks to our parents who thought we were a little too good at talking back. What can I say? My dad had a good point. So I took a marketing job to save up some money while I studied for the LSAT. A year later, I started classes at Creighton University School of Law. On my very first day of class and in an auditorium full of people, I happened to sit next to a charming student named Thomas Dickerson. It’s amazing how little serendipitous moments like this can have an impact on the rest of your life. While my friendship with Tom blossomed, I was faced with trying to decide what area of law I wanted to go into. Growing up, Tom knew a personal injury lawyer who served as his role model, but I didn’t know any attorneys before starting law school. I would be the first attorney in my family. I took a torts class my first year with an amazing professor who presented the subject matter in new and exciting ways. As time wore on, I was lucky enough to clerk with the Kansas federal

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Our business is a family business built on referrals, and we invite and appreciate referrals from you. Referring a family member or friend to us on an injury or other legal matter is the best compliment we can receive. We practice personal injury law, but if you ever have any type of legal problem, we would be happy to see how we can help you. 1 Chelsea Dickerson

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