This year, we at Daniel Stark are celebrating the law firm’s 15th anniversary. Over the past 15 years, we’ve removed well in excess of one hundred million dollars from the insurance companies’ coffer. We’ve grown from only Jonathan and I to over 90 team members strong. We have a team of highly skilled and dedicated injury lawyers who are passionate about making sure none of our clients are taken advantage of by “Big Insurance.”

We currently accept more than 1,000 new cases every year — which is a mere 35 percent of the number of case inquiries we actually receive annually. On top of all that, in an effort to help our clients more quickly and efficiently, we developed our own software. This same software is now being used by law firms across the country and has evolved into a triumphant business venture entirely of its own, accounting for 50+ of our 90+ member team.

This month, as the Daniel Stark team gathers to celebrate the last 15 years, there’s no doubt we’ll be reflecting on all of our blessings. But that success didn’t come easily. Fifteen years ago, Daniel Stark was just Jonathan and I in an impossibly small office that barely fit the both of us. We had to turn sideways in order to squeeze behind our desks, but we were willing to do whatever it took to bring this firm to the full potential that we envisioned. Even if it meant making some sacrifices… and those sacrifices extended far beyond inadequate leg room.

Back then, the most efficient way to advertise was to buy an ad in the yellow pages, which was no inexpensive feat. Our first ad ended up costing me my beloved ‘69 Camaro and about a month’s worth of sleepless nights. But it was worth it. That ad eventually lead to us advertising on radio and TV, and before long, we were able to upgrade to a slightly bigger office.

Even so, it was years before Daniel Stark became a self-sustaining practice. Around our third year in, Jonathan and I did the math and determined that we were making no more than $3 an hour. That night, I contemplated filling out an application for an evening job at Home Depot while Jonathan joked that we were going to have to learn bankruptcy law for ourselves!

Fortunately, our wives both had professional degrees and supported us through those hard times. Thanks to them, we were able to dedicate the time and resources required to turn Daniel Stark into the law firm we always hoped for … without filing for bankruptcy or spending our evenings at Home Depot.

Sacrifice has undoubtedly contributed to our success, but more than anything, it ultimately came down to surrounding ourselves with the right people. We discovered early on that we had to find people who shared the same passion for our purpose that we did. People who sincerely wanted to help our clients fight giants… and win. The key to our success has always been finding the right people who fit our culture and core values. We have dedicated ourselves to working hard to develop each and every person into better team members, lawyers and leaders in our businesses and the community. Which is why, as Daniel Stark celebrates 15 years, we’re not only celebrating our anniversary, we’re celebrating all the people that helped make it happen. Our families, our co-workers, and our clients.