This is reposted from last September 11th.
If you haven't already read it, please read Part 1 where I detail my personal experience on September 11th.
Part 2: How September 11th launched my real estate career
Yesterday, I posted my personal story about September 11th. Today, I tell the story of how I transitioned after September 11th from a career as an attorney to my current career in real estate and how September 11th was a catalyst.
We left off yesterday at my wedding on September 30, 2001. What a wonderful day! I was thrilled to be marrying the woman of my dreams, Deborah. A beautiful, intelligent, articulate, and adoring wife. She’s a ballroom dance teacher, who shortly after our wedding started her own business, and now has 6 or 7 teachers working for her and a full-time administrative assistant handling the phone calls, scheduling and billing of clients.
As you might expect, there is a bit of pressure when someone marries a dance instructor for the first dance to be a spectacle. It was. We practiced for close to a year. We changed out of our wedding attire and into our Argentine Tango outfits and put on a show!
September 11th had us worried that many of our out of town guests (90% of the invitees) would not be able to make it. They all did and more, including my parents from Florida, my sister from Colorado, and Deborah’s grandmother and uncle from England! A very special day indeed, especially in the shadow of such tragedy.
I graduated from law school at George Mason School of Law in 1998. After graduation, I worked for 2 years for one law firm handling banking litigation, and then moved to a very small firm handling securities law issues and some general practice. There were only 4 attorneys including me at this small Washington D.C. law firm.
Around late July 2001, we were starting to get our paychecks late, and then later, and then starting to wonder whether we would be getting them at all. I was getting increasingly frustrated. I was working way too many hours and way too hard to worry about getting paid!
And then 3 days before my wedding, I found out that our boss had not been paying our health insurance premiums for several months even though he was deducting it from our paychecks. I only discovered this because one of the attorneys tried to get her prescriptions filled and was denied coverage at the pharmacy. I confronted Mr. Boss about this and expressed extreme dismay knowing that I was heading out of the country on my honeymoon for two weeks w/o health insurance.
Upon returning from two wonderful weeks in Montreal and Quebec City, I went back to work in mid-October. I met with the senior partner (boss) and discussed the future. Was he going to be able to pay me or not? From the gist of the conversation, I decided that it was not worth taking that chance. So that weekend, as I packed up a moving truck with my wife’s stuff, I had the pleasure of telling my new in-laws that I was a newly unemployed lawyer son-in-law. That was fun!
After September 11th, law firms in the area were beyond hiring freeze, they were laying off attorneys left and right. I tried to find another law firm job, but to no avail. I even interviewed with one or two real estate settlement companies, but they weren’t hiring either. For a couple of months, I hung out my own shingle and handled a few small matters – a couple of wills, an eviction, some business formation, obtaining a restraining order against an abusive husband – real law kind of stuff. The only problem is that it wasn’t paying the bills.
Then one day my real estate broker friend suggested I get my license and come work with him. I thought about it, discussed it with my wife and decided it may be a good idea. I could get started in real estate while trying to build up a law practice on my own (not easy 3 years out of law school). My wife loaned me the money for the real estate course and I was off.
In the meantime, to pay bills, I helped a handyman friend out with odd jobs, painting houses, fixing doors, getting my hands dirty type of work (he was actually my first broker’s go-to handyman). This got me involved tangentially in real estate at (literally) the ground level.
By February 2002, I earned my real estate license. Two months later I sold my first house and I’ve never looked back. A year after September 11th, an Alexandria, Virginia real estate attorney saw my website and set up a lunch meeting. He ended up hiring me to work at his law firm on real estate litigation matters. I worked there for 4 years, progressively less and less as my real estate sales business grew. The experience I had there has helped me immeasurably in my real estate career.
I tell all my clients at our initial meeting:
“95% of real estate transactions go smoothly. Everyone shakes hands at the settlement table. The 5% that go wrong, go really really wrong – big money, big problems. At the law office, I’ve seen those 5%. As your Realtor and with my legal background, I will help prevent your purchase (or sale) from falling into those 5% and will guide you smoothly through the transaction to settlement.”
September 11th, 2001 was a horrible day for all of us, our country, and the world. We must pause to remember, reflect, and rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom.
In the aftermath of September 11th, my career in the wonderful world of real estate was launched.
Thanks for reading!
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