Lowcountry Divorce & Family Law, LLC officially opens the doors to its Summerville, South Carolina office today. It is my solo law practice, through which I hope to use my natural drive, motivation, love for a good argument and inherent unwillingness to ever back down in order to best serve clients enduring the uncertainty and tumult of domestic litigation.
And, while it is a different type of uncertainty than is faced by clients as they stare down the barrel of a divorce, a child custody dispute, or the fragile aftermath of a domestic violence incident, starting a business is certainly uncertain.
I have indeed started a business, but I have not yet built that business. God willing, I will do so.
Insofar as starting this business is concerned, the doors at Lowcountry Divorce & Family Law certainly could not have been opened without help. First and foremost, I have the unconditional love and support of my endlessly wonderful and traffic-stoppingly beautiful wife, Joanna Schreiber (say “hello” to her on Twitter); without the faith she has in me, without her willingless to share the burden of the uncertainty, none of this could happen. Secondly, I have been fortunate to have had the counsel of and training from fabulous family law practitioners like Gregory Forman, Anthony LaMantia and Allison LaMantia, without whom I would not be prepared and motivated to live or die according to my work ethic. Finally, I am blessed to have wonderful and generous family and friends; but for their faith and generosity, this new endeavor would likely have languished as a “what might have been” in the recesses of my mind for years to come.
And, really, that’s what this whole thing has come down to — if I didn’t take this chance now, when would I? Thanks to this new economy, my wife and I have whittled down our budget to the bare minimum, so even if I don’t knock the ball out of the park during my first year or two, it can still be a winning endeavor. If I did not buckle down and try, I understand myself enough to know without question that I would be wondering for years what could have been, wondering for years whether or not I could have better laid the groundwork to provide for my family as my children grew into a need for braces, into a want for pricey sports, arts and other activities, and whether or not I could have done more to provide for my children an even better quality of life than I was provided during my youth.
The question that remains, however, is whether I can take this business that I have started and actually build it.
Over the past week, as I have been designing my website, setting up my office, and crossing all of the administrative T’s and dotting all of the legal I’s that goes along with establishing a new law practice, I have listened in the background as the national political discussion has shifted into high gear following President Barack Obama’s statement that those who built a business owe more to the government than they do to themselves for their success and spoils. (And then I listened to President Obama’s assertion that he was taken out of context, only to observe that the context was indeed more damaging than the soundbite.)
When it comes to actually building Lowcountry Divorce & Family Law into a self-sustaining and even thriving law practice, the burden is going to solely be on my shoulders to do so. Building this law practice from nothing will depend upon my ability to get out and market myself, my ability to put in long hours studying court rules and case law so that I may obtain the kind of results which lead to referrals and future business, and my ability to run this business in a responsible and frugal way so that I can make the most of whatever I earn.
In the meantime, as I am right now at my desk, it will be me who will stare at the telephone, wondering if it will ring, wondering if my initial marketing efforts will pan out and provide enough result to then parley into further, more extensive marketing efforts. In the meantime, it will be me who has already lost sleep and will continue to lose sleep over whether or not I can build this business quickly enough so that the proceeds may contribute to my share of our household expenses before our cushion runs out.
With the exception of my wife, who is wonderful enough to shoulder these burdens with me, there is nobody else who will build this business but me, regardless of the president says. There are roads and bridges leading to my office regardless of whether I flourish or fail. I had wonderful teachers in my life who taught me everything from Latin to Langston Hughes, and their influence in my life will be ever-present regardless of whether I thrive or bust. My sacrifice will be my own, and my success or failure will be my own.
This is America. And it is the opportunity for entrepreneurship in this country, that enduring idea that I can do as much or as little as my will, motivation and drive allows, that make all of this possible. As a person, I am absolutely, positively terrified, but I refuse to put an arbitrary cap on what I am individually capable of. As a nation, we should feel the same way.
Our small businesses in this country flourish or fail because those who build them are willing to lose sleep at night, get up in the morning, and do whatever is necessary to feed their family and provide for their future. In the meantime, we have a president who has never run anything, never built anything, and seems intent upon handing over the spoils of others’ hard work to those who have never exhibited same, and that president is intent upon telling people like me that my gamble is not my own, that my hard work is not my own, that my sleepless nights and endless worry is not my own, and that if I finally am successful in turning Lowcountry Divorce & Family Law into a thriving law practice, it was somehow due to the totality of circumstances brought about by our government and not due to my own effort?
That’s not only wrong — it’s insulting. That’s not only insulting — it’s downright unAmerican.
Six months from now, will I be on my way to success? I don’t know. If I cannot bring in new clients and keep current clients happy, I’ll be bagging groceries at the local Publix. Even if that’s the case, however, I’ll be content in knowing that I tried, that I gave it everything I had, and that no amount of further help–from friends, family or government–could have caused things to turn out differently.
In the meantime, if you’re in the Palmetto State and you know someone facing a divorce, a custodial dispute, or going through any other kind of domestic issue, please send ‘em my way. They can rest assured knowing that they’ll have an attorney who will know as much about their story as they do, who will advocate for them as strongly and passionately as they would advocate for themselves, and who will be hungry enough to know that their success or failure is also my success or failure.