I’ve always wanted to be an attorney, but when I was younger I didn’t think it was possible. Neither one of my parents graduated from high school and money wasn’t something we had a lot of. My dad and my mom both worked two jobs and taught me the value of hard work. As a mechanic, my dad knew how grueling manual labor can be, so he intentionally wouldn’t let me work on cars so that I wouldn’t follow in his footsteps.
I owe a lot to my parents, my wife, my family and my friends for where I am today. But I can point to two moments in my life that led me becoming a lawyer. The first may seem trivial to most, but it isn’t to me. On my high school graduation day, I received a book from one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Morgan. The book? The Street Lawyer, by John Grisham. The plot of the book isn’t what mattered; it was the message. Mrs. Morgan had always encouraged me to become a lawyer, and this was another nudge down that path. With the simple act of giving me that book, she was telling me to follow my dream.[The book is great, by the way – I still have the original she gave me.]
The second moment had less to do with me, but its impact on me was far more profound. It was 2003 and I was a medic in the Army. I was stationed at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and my unit’s mission was simple; make sure the troops going to war were medically ready (we used the term “mobilize”). Fort McCoy is sandwiched between the towns of Tomah and Sparta, both with populations under 10,000. Needless to say, there wasn’t much for us to do while we weren’t working. To pass the time, we played basketball…lots and lots of basketball. Because we spent so much time playing basketball, I became really good friends with a lot of the guys going to Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the guys I played with left for several months and came back far earlier than the unit he mobilized with. After playing a couple hours of basketball, we sat on the bleachers and caught up for a bit. I asked him, “Why are you back so early?” I’ll never forgot his response. Without saying a word, he pulled off his shoe, then his sock. He was missing half his foot. I couldn’t believe my eyes – he hadn’t complained once or shown a bit of emotion. That night I went back to my room and told myself I have no excuses. I was going to law school and nothing was going to stop me.
Now several years after being a lawyer, those moments still stick with me. I talk about them every time I go speak to law students so they understand how important it is remember why we do what we do.
And now that I’m a lawyer, new moments keep me focused on what matters. Earlier this year, my client Cassandra came into the office carrying a tan jacket. She was there to sign some paperwork, but I noticed she kept fidgeting with the jacket. When we were done talking, she looked at me and said, “Try this on.” I gave her an odd look, but complied with her request. I said, “This fits perfect. How does it look?” Cassandra replied, “It looks great. I knew it would.” What makes this moment meaningful is that was her only son Braxton’s jacket. He died a year earlier in a horrific car crash. It was such a humbling moment. I wear that jacket any chance I get.
Chris and I started Mutrux Finney, P.C. because we have the same vision. We want to help people. And no matter how bad things get, we are there to help clients put the pieces of their lives back together. We aren’t able to help everyone – but we sure as hell will try.