My Mentor

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in one of my favorite restaurants on South Beach, Lucali’s, eating one of my favorite meals, a perfectly prepared calzone, with one of my favorite people; my mentor, my best-friend and brother, and my fearless leader. As we each take our last bite of baked deliciousness, we laugh.

“Why did it take us three years to finally do this?” I  say.

“I don’t know!” Spencer laughs back, “But it’s something we are going to start doing at least once a month.”

I throw my napkin in, stuffed. Sounds good to me.

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As a young lawyer, I cannot emphasize enough the impact of a mentor in one’s development from layman to counselor. It can literally make the difference – failure or success; between getting out of bed to conquer another day or throwing up my hands in frustration and giving up. I have been blessed with not just a mentor, but a mentor who has become my best friend and brother. He is and remains to be the most brilliant and passionate lawyer I know, showing me that the practice of law is not just a life, but also delicate art.

Spencer Aronfeld has practiced law and owned his own firm, Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, for twenty-two years. He is a graduate of the Trial Lawyer College, a non-profit institution founded and directed by Gerry Spence. He is admitted to practice in Federal Court, the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court; a member of American Justice Association, Miami-Dade Justice Association, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice; and an Eagle Member of the Florida Justice Association. He has been admitted to Federal District Court Practice since 1992, and the Federal Trial Bar of the US District Court since 1993. He was named Advocate of the National College of Advocacy, a member of the American Bar Association, a Florida Super Lawyer, and Top Lawyer Personal Injury in the South Florida Legal Guide.

His law firm, Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, is Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent rated. Spencer has also published two books. The second, “Make It Your Own” is a guide for law students and young lawyers to start their own law practice, as he did in 1991. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Lawyers to the Rescue, a 501(3)(c) not for profit humanitarian initiative dedicated to improving the reputation of lawyers in the community through community service and pro bono work.

Spencer and I met in March of 2011 at the Student Trial Advocacy Competition for the American Association for Justice he coordinated at the University Miami School of Law. What I immediately noticed was his suit; a beautiful brown two button, complimented perfectly by a linen handkerchief with tan piping. My first words uttered to my mentor were “I love your pocket square!” To which he smiled, said “Thank you!” and delivered a compliment of his own.

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I contacted Spencer after the competition. I was shocked to see an email from Spencer the next morning, with an invitation to attend a book signing he was hosting at the University of Miami School of Law. Following the advice he administered during the book signing, one week later after sending a hand-written thank you note, I met Spencer at his office, punctual and well dressed. He graciously offered me a position with his firm as an intern for the summer of 2011. That summer, I worked every day I had available, many times five or six days a week, as an intern.

Eventually, my internship ripened into a full-time position as Spencer’s Law Clerk, a position I mantained throughout the second term of my third year of law school, graduation and up until beginning of my Bar studies. Like a good mentee, I followed Spencer’s advice and did not work while studying for the bar.  Immediately after passing the Bar exam, Spencer offered me a salaried position at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers, which I accepted. To this day, I am overwhelmed with pride every time I pick up the phone and introduce myself, “My name is Domenick Lazzara. I am an attorney with Aronfeld Trial Lawyers.

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Its late in the evening and Spencer and I are admiring the Miami skyline as we lean back in our chairs at The Standard and take it all in. In this moment, I am reminded of the impact my mentor has had in my life and how I would not be here today were it not for this special relationship.  How different and unfulfilling my life would be without a mentor. As a young lawyer, I am grateful for this moment, all the moments leading up to this, and the endless possibility of moments to come.

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9 thoughts on “My Mentor

  1. Reading your article I am reminded of the importance of mentors – of having that one person in your life that provides guidance, a reasonable voice – when the voices in our own head promote doubt, a clear vision – when what we see are convoluted images. Glad you had a good mentor – perhaps your posts will stir others to serve as mentors in the present and future.

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