Growing up around my father’s law office gave me the opportunity to see how Dad and his partners helped people and how much satisfaction that gave them. I saw how sound advice could have a positive impact not only on clients, but on their families for generations to come. Of the many lessons I learned from my father, these have stuck with me: Take care of your clients; never compromise your integrity; treat everyone with respect; and finally, the practice of law is about people, not money. My father also taught me that my first job as an attorney is education because a properly educated client makes the best decisions.
Since graduating from Drake University Law School, I have had the good fortune of experiencing a variety of professional opportunities including law enforcement, corporate management, and private law practice. Law enforcement took the challenge of helping people to a new level. It also taught me how suddenly and drastically people’s lives can be changed forever. The corporate world taught me private practice may lack bonuses and private jets, but it has greater benefits of its own. It is about relationships. And it is about trust. I enjoy the fact friends have become clients and clients have become friends.
After starting out as a general practitioner in rural Iowa, I decided long ago to narrow the scope of my practice. It was not a sudden event, but a gradual evolution. Along the way, I did post-graduate work at Northwestern University and the University of Kansas. I also served as Chief Litigation Counsel and General Counsel for two national corporations. Since returning to private practice in 1999, I have concentrated my efforts in the areas of estate planning and business.
Aside from my father’s influence, I decided on estate planning and business law because I feel they are the areas where I can personally provide the greatest benefit to clients and the best return on their investment in legal services. I am passionate about my practice. My clients have my mobile phone number so they can reach me anytime, anyplace. Concerns don’t always arise between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. I make house calls and set appointments based on my clients’ schedules. I have had the unfortunate experience of having clients die while their estate plan was waiting to be signed. According to state law, the distribution of each estate was far different than the client wanted. The lesson here is to not put off estate planning. Accidents happen and people get sick.
My focus in estate planning is asset protection, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, including firearms and domestic/offshore trusts. It does no good to work your whole life building an estate only to have it lost to taxes, legal fees, or your beneficiaries’ bad decisions, lawsuits, and divorces. My estate plans are custom drafted. In estate planning, one size does not fit all. In fact, it rarely fits anyone. And I will not recommend an estate plan that I would not feel comfortable using myself.
The business law portion of my practice is focused on setting up companies and then serving as their general counsel, giving ongoing guidance in many areas, both legal and operational. This allows me to continue using my training and experience from the corporate world doing something I enjoy. Business succession planning combines my experience in business with estate planning.
My wife, Jackie, is an artist. She and our two daughters take seriously their commitment to keeping my personal and professional lives in balance. We enjoy traveling, hiking, flying, and spending time with our daughters and their families.