This month marks the five-year anniversary of this Newsletter. It feels
like just yesterday that I sat down and wrote the first issue. But here we
are, 60 editions later. We have come a long way since that very first edition.
Today, this newsletter goes out to over 10,000 subscribers. We have
subscribers from the Keys, all the way up to Tallahassee, and we have
several in other states. I have had judges in open court tell me how much
they enjoy my newsletter. I have even had a few insurance lawyers say
the same. For me, the preparation and publication of this newsletter is a
labor of love. It takes time to try to make this thing interesting and readable
each and every month. But I love it. For me, it is a monthly chat that
you and I get to have. It’s a chat that was supposed to be about the law, but
it has taken off and grown to be more about family and life than anything
else. I love that we have this place to connect each and every month. And I
love being able to share more about my life, my family and my firm then I
ever could through meetings and interactions in your case. I hope it makes
you feel like a part of the family. So, like any good anniversary, let’s celebrate
and let’s look back on the history of how we got here.
2012 was one of the hardest years of my career. My firm was three years old. We had grown substantially in those three years, both in terms of cases and employees. Still, I will candidly admit, I didn’t love where the firm was at that time. To me, it felt like our message and mission was just too much like every other personal injury firm. It didn’t feel unique and it didn’t feel like me. Sure, we had marketing – TV ads, a lot of radio ads, billboards, the internet, and it all worked fairly well. Still, I didn’t feel that any of my marketing worked or spoke for me. Something was missing and I longed for a way that I could share with my clients and the world my views on what I do, my family, and life in general. I wanted a deeper and more personal connection to my clients. I felt that I had something more to say, and I just could not say it in a thirty second radio or TV ad.
That longing lead to the creation of this newsletter. Back when we started, I didn’t know if we would ever even publish one. I mean, it seemed like a big task to prep four pages of content every couple of weeks. But almost immediately upon launching this newsletter, I quickly saw that this was going to be my most successful means of communicating my message. What I did not know at that time though was that this newsletter would take on a life of its own, and became a window into my heart and soul.
When I started this thing, I really thought it would be a legal newsletter, where we provided articles and education on the law – both in what we do – car accidents, and other areas. But reading back over all 60 something prints, I realize that this has become almost anything but a legal newsletter. In fact, in purposely trying to keep this from being all legal, it has become almost nothing about the law, and more about life. That process started early on when my father, Tim Gibson, aka, the AutoJustice Mechanic, volunteered to write articles on cars and car maintenance. What was cool about having my Dad on board was that we were really just reconnecting after a 15 year absence in each other’s lives. To have him share in this brought us back closer together. He got to see my business and I got to learn his. And even better, he had information to share that was helpful. The more my Dad wrote, the more I could see a resemblance in how we attack our chosen professions. I learned things about my Dad that I never knew. Without that, we still would have reconnected, but I think for both of us, this process helped. I would have never saw that coming when we started out.
As I mentioned before, for those of you who have faithfully read our newsletter over the years, you have seen it evolve from a law firm newsletter that is mostly about legal stuff into an ongoing story. I think it has simply become the story of the life of my family, our firm, and the sharing of thoughts that we experience in the same. It was this sharing of the most personal aspects of my life that lead me to completely rebrand our firm and its marketing. You all have seen our commercials. And you know that they are unlike any other accident lawyer commercials. We don’t talk about cases, we talk about family.
What sharing my family’s story with you monthly made me realize is that family is at the center of why I do what I do, and why I want to be your lawyer. You see, I had to experience what it was like in my family to go through one of these cases. And from that experience, I came to understand that when an accident or tragic event happens to you, it doesn’t affect just you. It affects your entire family. If I were hurt today, and could not work, my main concern would be how to take care of Jen, Brady and Eme. I realized that was the same concern that almost all of my clients had as well. Yes, they worried about their physical health and recovery, but they were just as or even more concerned about how to take care of their loved ones. Sharing my family’s life in here made me connect to that, and it made me realize that unlike most lawyers, I had a young family and I was going through the same ups and downs of raising young children that my clients were. My fears were their fears, and that was my unique connection that no competitor of mine had or embraced.
I would have never thought that writing a newsletter would reconnect me to my past mentors, but it did. I did an article in 2013 all about my experience with a major influence in my life, my high school football coach, John Davis. I sent it to him when it was published. Since that time, we have made it a point to speak and see each other regularly. I got to say thank you to a man that helped mold me into the man I am today. Again, I don’t know that I could have said all that in person. Hopefully, that story made you think of someone who has helped you out or inspired you. Maybe it made you look for someone like that. That story lead to me going back and coaching at my high school for a season. That opportunity gave me a chance to tell sixty young men my story and give them an example of someone who has been where they are, had the opportunities they have, and has tried to make the most of them.
As I read over the past editions, I was so proud to see the articles on the charitable and missionary work we have done as a firm. There have been mission trips to Haiti and Cuba. Charitable events in the memory of past clients, a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court that we paid for and allowed local students to take. And monthly, and almost daily accounts of good works and charitable contributions that we made in our community. Today, we have even expanded on this and monthly, we celebrate and publish the good works done by our ‘AutoJustice Community Heros.’ I hope in publishing these accounts, our readers have seen that we are more than just a personal injury law firm. We are people who care about people. We want to help and we don’t hesitate to when asked. We have tried to make a difference, and hopefully, we have.
There have been stories of victories, both in court and out. There have also been stories of tragedy and loss. One of the shortest articles may have just been the most powerful – a four paragraph article from July of 2016, which was basically a prayer for healing for our community following the Pulse tragedy. We have also had employees share some of their personal trials and tribulations too. One of my favorite editions was when a former employee shared her story of overcoming cancer, and how thankful she was to have done the same. That story inspired me, and made me go home that night and hug my loved ones a little tighter. Even though that employee has moved on, she still is a friend of the firm, and I am still rooting for her in life. She is now a successful realtor and has gone on to have two young children. I still get inspired reading it today. We have had controversy too, like when the NRA responded to my “Too Many Guns” article from last year with a three page email. To this day, I have no idea how the NRA got this newsletter, but that article sure caused a stir.
And there are many, many others that I could talk about, but we only have four pages. So I will leave you with this. Today, I have shared how much this newsletter means to me and what I have tried to do with the same. Of all the accomplishments that I have had in the law and in business, the one that I am most proud of is this newsletter. It has given me that unique avenue and relationship with my clients and the world that I so desperately searched for. I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading them, as much as I enjoy the process of writing and sharing them. And I hope we always have this special place to share and connect.
Before I go, some big ‘thank you’s’ to those who help put this together every month. Thank you first to Jen, Brady and Eme. Your willingness to share our lives makes this even possible. I hope you see every month in reading this how proud I am of each of you and how much I love you guys. Thank you to our staff, past and present. I love it when you all contribute articles and ideas, as it keeps this thing fresh. Thank you to my father for the great car and life advice. Thank you to my editor, Kristine Snively, who fixes my typos and run-on sentences. And finally, a huge thank you to Nicole Tully, Michele Beckwith, Carolyn Sheltraw, and Shelia Perry. These four ladies are the ones who behind the scenes help put this newsletter together and get it out to each of you. Ladies – we couldn’t do this without you, and I am forever grateful for the hard work and dedication you have shown to us.
Now . . . on to the next five years!
Oh and enjoy the pictures – They are some of my favorites from our 60 plus editions over the years.
Sincerely and with great gratitude,
Michael T. Gibson