Let me tell you a tale of perseverance I learned from a dead lawyer. The dead lawyer is my father, Louis Charles Wool, but please no condolences. He died in 1997 at age 86, and he is still alive for me. Especially this week.
I had planned a different Linked In article for my first post as founder of Wool Landon. I planned to thank the countless supporters who have sent me encouragement and congratulations. I wanted to share my thoughts on the Secure Act. Instead, in the short three weeks since my launch on March 1, 2020, with this, my first post, I hope that my father’s tale will sustain you now as it sustains me.
Known as “Butch Wool,” to family and friends, my father was 23 years old in 1933 when he was admitted to practice law in the State of Connecticut. His parents were Jewish immigrants, escapees from the Russian pogroms. They arrived at Ellis Island shortly before my father was born in 1911 and settled in New London, Connecticut. As my father described the immigration, his father was transformed from a literate young student to a door to door peddler struggling to learn English.
I reflect on my father’s successes today, after two weeks of profound market instability and three weeks at Wool Landon. My stock portfolio has coughed up hard earned profits, and the increasingly long commute into Portland disappeared overnight. Downtown is deserted. Our safety and our future are uncertain. Even in these dark times, I can only imagine what the experience of poverty, coupled with hope for the future, was like for the young Wool family of my father’s youth.
Upon graduating from sixth grade at Harbor School, my father worked nights and weekends, helping women try on shoes and charming them into a deal. He put himself through college and law school, then helped his brother and sister (yes) graduate from college. He and his brother went on to professional school, my father to law school, and his brother to medical school. By the time I was born, my father’s first child, born to his first and only wife, Butch Wool was 45 years old and a financial success. In the small southeastern Connecticut town of New London, he was a big fish. He never stopped working though, or playing golf, right up until the year he died.
And, he told me the stories. When he graduated from Boston University School of Law and came home to help his family, it was the middle of the depression. There was one law firm in town, and they would not hire a Jewish lawyer, so he opened his own practice. One of his first clients was the father of the man I knew as the owner of a local dry cleaner. My father traded a collections matter for free cleaning. (That deal seemed to go on for a long time in the way things did in a small town in the early 20th century.) New London was a factory town with a large black population. The lawyers at the one law firm in town wouldn’t represent those factory workers. My father did. Like other professionals who got their start in the depression, he counted his successes in small amounts, $5.00 for this, $2.75 for that. Somehow, it all added up. Today, it adds up to a lesson in showing up (virtually for now of course), doing your best and overcoming adversity.
So, it seems fitting that Wool Landon launched this month. We will be guided by my father’s example, and by the example of many of my clients who have grown businesses from scratch or who came up in a family business, often under adverse conditions or during difficult times.
It also seems fitting that my first article on Linked In is not a technical one. After all, those of you who know me, know my technical abilities. Most of you do not know my story. You do not know why I have fearlessly built my law practice and a client maintenance program designed to sustain your family for generations. My father’s influence, to serve your family and our community.