Almost 16 years ago I found myself in a terrible work environment. My boss was mean. He attacked the people who worked with him relentlessly, rarely praising anyone for good work but never hesitating to criticize people publicly and personally for even the smallest oversight.
I remember receiving an email from him on Christmas Day. I was with my wife and her family at her parents house when I went upstairs to check email on my mother-in-law’s computer (this was before smartphones). There was a five paragraph email from my boss ripping me to shreds about something silly and inconsequential. I printed it out, went downstairs, and showed it to my wife and her family. Then I told them I was quitting that job immediately. Even though I had no back-up job lined up, I knew I had to leave this mean-spirited man and the hostile environment he created in my rear view mirror.
And that’s exactly what I did the next week. And it felt great.
Vuk was working at the same law firm at the time I was there, and he quit at the same time too, for basically the same reasons. Neither Vuk nor I had any idea what we were going to do for work after that. A week or so later, Vuk and I decided to grab beers at a local English Tavern called the “Black Lab.” We both decided over Guinness beers that we would make a go of starting our own law firm.
That was 2003. We had no plan, no cases, no clients, and no staff. We had no office, no stationary, no furniture, and no marketing ideas. All we had was the desire to make something worthwhile.
Almost 16 years later, VB Attorneys has become a nationally recognized law firm, with 7 lawyers, 7 staff, beautiful offices, hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for our clients. It is hard for me to believe what we’ve built.
Most important to me personally, however, is the work environment of our law firm.
Everyone plays on the same team. We support each other. We don’t care who gets the credit. We don’t have any fame-seekers or problem lawyers or untrustworthy employees. We have the best legal team in the country and it is not even close.
During this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful to my partner Vuk for 16 years of fun and accomplishment. I am thankful to the team I work with, my colleagues and friends, who make VB Attorneys a special place.
And I am especially thankful to the thousands of people from all walks of life who have trusted us with some of the most important issues they have or will ever face. We don’t win every single case (although we win the vast majority of them), but we give every single client our best, every time.
Thank you, and happy holidays!