It will be impossible to forget the feeling as I first read the words in the letter sitting on the desk before me. I felt my palms begin to sweat as pulse quickening, I fought back the tears that were slowly welling up. After five long years, countless rejection letters and disappointments in the long road to becoming a lawyer, I was now reading the letter that contained within it everything I had hoped and dreamed of when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.
Another unforgettable day, five years ago I found myself in my office at the Wachovia building in downtown Miami. It was 7:00 PM on a Friday. I sat with my back against the window overlooking Biscayne Bay. Outside, people were celebrating the end of the workweek over a drinks and laughter. I was staring at the wall, clutching the phone, trying to find the strength to dial the next number. This would be my seventy-fifth cold call for the night. And tonight, I had picked attorneys, who in retrospect, were not the nicest bunch of individuals to cold call at 7:00 PM on a Friday.
I remember staring at the wall, phone in hand, thinking, “This can’t be the way. There has to be more than this. This is NOT my destiny.” With that inescapable thought, I put the phone down, pushed my list aside, and opened my laptop to Google “law school.”
“Big Dom, what are you going to do?” he asked in understandable disbelief.
“Chuck, I want to be on the other end of that phone call. I want to go to law school. I want to be a lawyer. I want to change the world.”
With that, he smiled and gave me the nod I was waiting for.
“Well good for you. I support your decision and know you will make a fine attorney one day.”
We hugged, and with his blessing, began the five-year journey to realizing my dream.
Five years later, I found myself on the other side of the phone. Except this time, I was speaking with my second great mentor, Spencer Aronfeld, tendering my resignation as a Personal Injury Attorney with Aronfeld Trial Lawyers. Like any great mentor, he gave me his own blessing and wished me the best in my new career.
Webster’s Dictionary defines bittersweet as being at once bitter and sweet; especially : pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret; pleasure alloyed with pain. As I read that letter last Friday offering me an associate position with the Dogali Law Group in Downtown Tampa, there was no better word to describe the way it felt.
The sweet: being offered my dream job with the opportunity to work with one of the kindest and most intelligent group of lawyers and professionals I had met in my legal career, in my hometown of Tampa, Florida, in areas of law that had a positive impact on the world as a whole. An opportunity to realize my dream: use my education to make the world a better place by creating progressive change, one client at a time.
And the bitter: knowing I would have to leave Aronfeld Trial Lawyers and part ways professionally with my mentor Spencer Aronfeld, the very man that loved and believed in me as a young lawyer; who swore me in almost one year ago next month – not to mention the countless clients I had come to know and love along the way.
Like any great journey, this one too began with a letter and a hug. After reading the offer Andy Dogali had placed on the desk with a smile before departing back to his office, I walked down the hall feeling the ground beneath me give way. As I approached the moment of acceptance, the world around me came alive in vibrant shades of blue and yellow, as if I had become immersed in the midst of a van Gogh. An indescribable clarity overtook me. There was no past or future, there was only that moment; the here; the now. And in that moment, I the young lawyer, felt more alive than I had ever felt before.
Soon, I found myself on the phone, this time with Andréa Searle, thanking her profusely for believing in me and giving me this chance. “Don’t thank me Domenick. You earned this.”
Five years ago I began the long journey to becoming a young lawyer. Today, I accept with open arms that the amazing journey has only just begun. Today I give thanks to God for making me see what I always believed.
Life is impossibly beautiful.