Twenty Years Ago, the Dellutri Law Group was a dream. After graduating from law school, I started working full time at another firm. It was a good way to get my foot in the door and gain some experience before opening my own practice. Since I knew that someday I was going to open my own practice, I started planning my future. That future included going back to school for an MBA (Masters in Business). Law School doesn’t teach you anything about running a business, and let’s face it, a law practice is a business. While getting my MBA, I met my wonderful wife, Marjorie. I like to joke and say that I was there for my MBA and she was there for her MD (Marjorie Dellutri). We actually graduated with our MBAs together.
After almost two years in private practice, I was feeling fully confident in my abilities, and I started planning to go out on my own. Marjorie was on board with the idea. The issue was this: I worked for a really great guy, who was, and still is, one of the best attorneys I have ever met. Plus, everyone on the team treated me like family. So, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to leave them just yet. The idea of going out on my own was much easier than deciding to leave, but I knew I couldn’t do both.
Marjorie and I attended the firm’s Christmas party that year in Tampa. On the way home, we weighed the pros and cons and made a big decision. My dream was about to come true. She told me that she would support me while I got the practice up and running, so we made a deal, and from that moment, I had exactly 12 months to get the show on the road.
I immediately started planning my departure and the startup of my own practice. When I got back into the office after the holidays, I put in my two-week notice. I was excited to start out on my own, but I was also a little sad to be leaving such a great boss and staff. I learned so much in the time I was there, and he was a great mentor to me. He respected and supported my decision, and I worked my butt off until I clocked out for the last time.
In the beginning, I was so bored when I went to work. I rented a space in another attorney’s building, and I placed my first ad in the yellow pages for The Law Offices of Carmen Dellutri. At first, I spent most of my days sitting around waiting for my phone to ring, but eventually, the other attorneys in the office started throwing cases my way. I often covered hearings and trials, and even though I got paid, I did a lot of work for free too. I kept my focus on the future, and although I only made $11,000 that first year, I built up my name and reputation.
There were days when I wondered whether or not I had made the right choice in going out on my own. But Marjorie’s faith in me was always there to keep me motivated. I didn’t take any cases from my previous employer, so all I had was my laptop, a couple of bookcases, and a printer that Marjorie had gifted me. However, after a lot of hoping, praying, and taking good care of the clients that called in response to my ad, my practice started to grow. Eventually, I was able to hire someone (this is a great story as well) to make us a team of two, and we continued to expand into the Dellutri Law Group we know today.
This month, we celebrate our 20-year anniversary. Talk about time flying. I am so thankful for everything I have experienced these last 20 years, and I am forever grateful to Marjorie for loving me, believing in me, and taking a risk on me, back then and every day as we move forward. She gave me the opportunity to start a law firm that lives our vision of what a law firm should be. It’s a debt I hope I can someday repay.
Happy Anniversary, Dellutri Law Group, and happy Valentine’s Day, Marjorie. I love you.