My life was changed the day I discovered personal injury law. I’d considered pursuing environmental law when I first started law school, but after accepting a position as a law clerk for a personal injury attorney, I knew… I’d found the area of law I was born for.
My dad worked as an air traffic controller at Houston Intercontinental (now known as Bush Intercontinental). He was also a pilot, and he’d usually fly to work from our ranch in Huntsville, TX; an epic way to get to work, even more so back then. Only on bad weather days would he drive to work. When I was two years old, on a stormy day, my dad drove to work and never came home. A drunk driver hit him head-on.
I grew up without a dad, and I witnessed my mom struggle emotionally with the loss of her soul mate.
(To this day, she misses him). Thanks to the settlement she received from a personal injury lawsuit, she was able to support us. And I wouldn’t have been able to attend law school without the small fund I received to help me pay for a portion of my college education.
When I discovered personal injury law, I thought, “I know what loss is and I know what it’s like; this happened to my family.” It’s the reason I chose to practice personal injury law.
After graduating from law school, I practiced personal injury and discovered I was ideally suited for it – but not suited for working for someone else. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In college, I rebuilt cars and sold them to pay tuition. As a kid, I mowed yards and had a paper route.
I wanted to start my own firm, and there was only one person I wanted to do it with – my friend from law school, Jonathan Stark.
In school, we filled our spare time with a lot of fishing and duck, goose, crane, and pheasant hunting. We’d also spent many hours in the outdoors talking about what it would be like if we formed our own law firm.
We felt like we were the perfect combo; from our post-grad jobs, he had the litigation side down, and I had the pre-litigation side down. And we were the same in that we’d both rather have a beer in a bar, than a drink in a country club.
Most of all, I knew Jonathan had one great, unshakeable character trait. To his core, he is a protector of everyone around him who needs help. He’s been standing up to bullies since he was a kid, even when it meant getting his &$% whooped. He’s the guy I want standing by our client’s side.
So, in December of 2000, I phoned him up. “Jonathan, let’s start our firm – let’s roll!”
It’s terrible timing for him. His job is going too well to leave. Plus, he’d have to uproot his family and move to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where I lived. “Maybe next year,” he says.“But I can’t now.”
I really wanted him to be my law partner, but I’d already made up my mind. To get my first Yellow Pages ad, I decided I’d sell my beloved ’69 Camaro. Sold it for $13,000.
(Man, I wish I had that car back – I rebuilt it myself in law school).
The very next day, Jonathan calls me.
“Danny, you’re really gonna quit your job at the firm and start your own?”