It was 11 years ago that my husband and I decided that he would be going to law school. At the time we were both Christian school teachers in Lancaster, Ohio and believed that this was the right path forward. The consequences of this decision were that we would need to move, sell a house at the beginning of the housing recession, and find a way to pay the bills while going to law school. This was an overwhelming and monumental decision. Truly believing that this was things to do, we made the decision to move forward with no firm plan in place.
Shortly following this decision, we found out that we were expecting a new baby. A new reality arose. We had always wanted one of us at home when we started our family and having a baby meant that we needed to find a way for me to stay home and for my husband to work and go to law school. So, with a half filled out application to West Holmes High School, I decided to not continue to pursue my career.
We moved in the night the 4th of July fireworks were going off in Millersburg and I came through the door in tears. It was all new and all scary.
Instead, a new blessing arose. We received an acceptance to Akron University and an invitation to move into the gigantic Victorian home my in-laws owned. The plan was to try to sell our house in Lancaster, move in with my in-laws so that I could stay home with the new baby, and my husband was going to preach on the weekends and go to school during the week. Yes, I realize that is a lot, but we believed this was the right choice for our family.
The journey through law school was difficult and hard. Thank heavens I had a support system. Toward the end of our 3-year law school journey, questions about what was next for us began to arise. Family meetings started to take place. The decision for my father-in-law to retire from being a Judge and for my husband to join him in opening a private practice was made and another scary adventure began.
Our law firm began in the same house that we also lived. We were living on the middle floor and half of the bottom floor. We shared living space and kitchen, my in-laws were in the attic and my brother-in-law and his new wife were in the apartment above the garage. My music studio was in a suite across from our living space and also in the shared music space was our one-room law firm. (I remember days when a friend of my father-in-law, who was also a Judge, would come in to play my piano). It was a humble beginning. We were going to be a small firm that wanted to help people in our community that was the premise of our existence and continues to this day.
5 months into our new office my husband started to hear rumblings of letters being mailed out to landowners from oil and gas companies. The companies behind those letters were often preying upon landowners because the development was so new. Landowners did not have many options on where to turn. My father-in-law and husband saw this as another opportunity to help our communities. Deciding to only represent landowners, both men walked into a new practice area and highly complex situations. They educated themselves and were invited to join the short list of advisors to the Ohio Farm Bureau members. They often put themselves in David and Goliath situations.
Because of their decision to be landowner advocates, we started adding people to our firm, finding new talent, and identifying new opportunities. White Law Office is now in 6 locations, and a staff of 18 employees. The talent, expertise, and care that these people bring to the communities we reside in is astounding.
I tell this story to help you understand the process we went through to get to where we are, in June of 2019. As the wife of one of the owners and also an employee of White Law Office, I have watched him grieve for our clients and their situations. I have been told stories about oil and gas companies that would have you question how anyone could live their life so selfishly. I have been told stories of generations old farmland being invaded and the sorrow of those landowners.
Amidst those struggles, we have had amazing victories and successes! Seeing wins for landowners that have put clients in wonderful financial situations. Making sure their land is protected and pushing oil and gas companies to follow through on their commitments. Watching the brilliance of the talent that my husband has and the people he has attracted has been inspiring! He has dedicated his life to helping people through innovative ways of doing law. I believe he has developed a rural law practice that is cutting edge above the rest. We have built an office that can practice anywhere and all we need is a computer (or sometimes just a smartphone). What is it like to be an attorney’s wife? It’s exciting! It’s inspiring! It’s an adventure and fulfilling!
What’s the end of the story? Who knows! We continue to grow; we are looking at a potential building that will house the expanding staff and it seems the adventure continues. I hope to write another one of these in 5 years and it will be interesting to find out where we are then.