Sergio Leal has joined the Merlin Law Group in Houston. As he is a proud University of Texas graduate, football seasons will be more debatable in our office. Texans do not concede that the best football is played in states a little further east.

Sergio Leal’s interview was unique. Our firm Human Resource Director, Keona Williams, has lawyer candidates complete a personality test. When I saw Sergio’s, I recognized it as a mirror of my own. I knew what to say and ask to determine whether he had the desire to learn and practice policyholder litigation.

While most of my Longhorn friends think just getting into and graduating from Texas is a demonstration of superior intellect, Sergio also graduated from Columbia Law School. Most law graduates from such prestigious law schools end up in large corporate firms or as federal law clerks. Often, that type of legal work, though the pay is initially good, is not what people want out of the practice of law. This situation is to our advantage. We can hire smart lawyers because our legal practice is appealing. Helping and being the champion for people against a much financially stronger adversary is an appealing challenge to many attorneys. Finding out what Sergio Leal was about and whether he would accept those challenges, was the purpose of his interview.

So, given his extraordinary academic background and seeing his personality profile, I told Sergio that he could be extremely successful. The questions were, what he would try to be successful at and whether he would pay the price to get there. Being a successful policyholder lawyer takes drive and dedication to clients which is seemingly unending. If the "law" is a jealous mistress to one’s private life, "policyholder litigation" is a nymphomaniac.

Sergio Leal was raised in Houston, not far from our office. He will not get lost in the Houston traffic like I still do. He also has the advantage of being smarter than I am. We are fortunate to have him in our firm, and he is fortunate to be able to do this work with the support we can provide.

Opportunity comes and goes, and it often is difficult to see and take advantage of it. Working with smarter and younger colleagues provides growth opportunities for all the lawyers in our firm. It seems like yesterday when I was Sergio’s age and getting started in this practice. I hope he enjoys the ride as much as I have.