Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Aug 31, 2009 06:28 pm CDT
A little over seven years ago, Tony Jorgensen was getting ready to take the Pennsylvania bar exam after earning his law degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.
But on a sudden impulse he hustled home to his native Connecticut on the last possible day to apply to take the bar exam there, and filled out the application on an electric typewriter in the state’s registration office.
Similar gut-level decision-making led to his decision to open his own small firm, reports the Connecticut Law Tribune: After passing the Connecticut bar and getting a job at a local law firm, Jorgensen quit less than a month later, because he wanted to be his own man.
Sitting in the car with his father afterward on Lawyers Row on Oak Street in Hartford, they discussed his future. Looking up, he saw a for-rent sign. The landlord happened to be Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Miano, who also talked with the Jorgensen about his future and even gave him a few months of free rent.
Today, at 33, Jorgensen is at the helm of his own small minority-owned firm, the legal publication recounts. There are five lawyers, two paralegals and a secretary. One of the firm’s focus areas is representing local government agencies. Jorgensen also tries to give back to the community by mentoring local public school students who are interested in a legal career.
His first client was a walk-in he recalls, a woman he helped retain custody of her children as a state agency sought to take them away due to her abusive boyfriend. Jorgensen’s only payment for that case, he tells the Law Tribune, was a statuette sent by her relatives in Puerto Rico that he plans to keep in his office as long as he continues practicing law. His client still keeps in touch and recently called him to tell him how well her children are doing in school.
“It’s kind of something I use as a benchmark,” says Jorgensen of the figurine. “It’s not all about money, contrary to what the opinion is about lawyers.”