“Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit and victory, sir!” I still remember shouting these exact words at the top of my lungs as a lanky 9 year old kid before the start of every class at a damp and musty second floor Tae Kwon Do studio in the small Midwestern town of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At the time, I never really understood why our instructor made us recite these same six words before ever single class – I remember rushing through them (while barely mumbling through the word “indomitable”) so that I could get to the warm-ups as quickly as possible and start the fun drills, like practicing flying back kicks or sparring with the other kids in my oversized head gear and gloves.

Even though it’s been decades since I was that 9 year old kid from South Dakota, it was only recently that I realized that those six strange words, the ones that I had to recite like a broken record player darn near every day, actually resonated with me more than I ever imagined they would. Those words, and what they mean and stand for, stayed with me through childhood and adulthood, and helped me become the human, the father, the friend, and the lawyer that I am today.  

Those who know me – my family, my friends, my colleagues, and my clients – know that I hold the value of respect close to my heart, I fight for what’s right, I don’t break easy, I stay composed, I don’t give up, and I do everything in my power to win. I’m not claiming to be perfect, because I am not. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. But I am also human. I’m no different than you. I’m no different than those around you. I am you – I am a part of your community – a part of OUR community.  

Growing up, my parents weren’t doctors or lawyers. Before we immigrated to the U.S. in 1990, my dad was a refrigerator and A/C repairman and my mom was a pre-school teacher. In South Dakota they both found jobs as furniture makers – my dad worked the day shift and my mom the night. Looking back, it was probably then, in that cold and gritty Midwestern town, that I learned the value of hard work, fortitude, never giving up, rolling up your sleeves, and fighting for the right cause, no matter how bad the odds may be stacked up against you.  

Now, fast-forward nearly 30 years, I am a personal injury lawyer. I have the privilege of serving and being the voice for those human beings who may otherwise not have a voice, or whose voice may not be loud enough to be heard and acknowledged by the multi-billion dollar corporations and insurance companies who often hurt people and refuse to take responsibility or make things right. I take that privilege that I hold, that I earned, very seriously.  

I fight for people who I believe in. I fight for the underdog. I fight for what is righteous. I do whatever it takes to protect my clients and I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them, until the very end, no matter what may lie ahead, to hold wrongdoers accountable. And, if by doing that, I can help improve the lives of those people who need it most, those who have been down for too long and just need someone to lend them a hand when no one else will, then maybe I can look back at my career as a lawyer when it’s all said and done and know that I did something right.  

And that – I can be proud of.