Why Columbia Born Searcy Denney Attorney Values Being Part of the Firm
Hi, my name is Juan Diaz, and I’m an attorney [product liability] at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley. I’m a board member of the Hispanic Bar Association for Palm Beach County. There’s a big portion of the Hispanic community in Palm Beach County that doesn’t have access to legal representation or legal counsel. So, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to set up workshops over the weekends. The idea of the workshops is to inform them of the issues that I am an expert in, and if I cannot help them, point them in the right direction to someone who’s gonna be able to help them. We don’t want the Hispanic community to feel like they don’t have a representation in the community, and we want to lend a hand.
I like to go to the movies, and I like to spend time with my dog. I still talk to my family. I don’t really have family in South Florida. My family, half of it is in Colombia, the other half is on the West Coast. So, I try to stay in touch with them. Being close to my family is very important to me, especially now that we’re physically far apart from each other.
I’m a native of Colombia. I lived in Colombia until I was 21 years old. Five years before that, my mom had moved to the United States, just searching for a better opportunity. And she was always was trying to convince me to move to the United States because she knew the potential that my brother and I at the time could have had had we moved to the United States. Initially, I was a little hesitant about the move. Honestly, I was afraid. I didn’t speak English, so that was always a concern to me. But it came to a point in time when I realized that my life and the lives of the ones around me would be better if I moved to the United States. So, that’s what I decided to do.
So, growing up in Colombia, I always had a fear that there was not gonna be an opportunity for me to become a professional. Even though there are schools down there, once you’re done with school and you earn a degree, getting the job, it’s what’s hard. You know, it’s not a merit-based society. It’s all about who you know. And if you’re not connected with the right people, then you don’t have access to decent jobs. Coming up to the United States, the first thing that I noticed is that as long as you work hard, you can accomplish anything, you know? And that was the drive that I had to go to school. That’s when I realized that the legal system in the United States actually works, as opposed to in Colombia. In Colombia, everything is a clerical issue. Nothing gets done. But as soon as I came to the United States, and I noticed how both the civil and the criminal justice system were actually effective, which pushed me to pursue my career in law.
Right out of law school, the job where I gathered the most experienced as an attorney was for one of the biggest insurance defense firms in the state of Florida. I did that for about six years of my career. It always felt that I was cheating someone with a legitimate claim. And even then, you know, you get a pat in the back and you move on to the next claim. There’s no personal reward. Now that I’m here working for the people, working for a plaintiff with legitimate claims, whenever we do a good job for them, it’s a completely different experience in the sense that you make a difference in someone’s life.
One of the things that always strikes me with respect for Searcy Denny doing work in the defense is that every time that we got a case from Searcy Denny, we knew that we needed to bring our A-game, we knew it was gonna be a good claim and we knew that the representation that that client had was gonna be the best in the state of Florida. Excellent attorneys, excellent paralegals, and just the entire legal team we knew was gonna be behind that case.
I wanted to be associated with the firm. I wanted to be associated with the kind of representation that I personally witnessed was the firm gives to those clients. I remember the first time that we had a good result for one of our clients here at Searcy Denney, and after everything was done, the smile on his face, about the resolve, the hopes, and aspirations that he wanted to do with the work that we accomplished in his case, how that was going to change his life that actually made me feel better. I went home that night, and I had a good night’s sleep. It made me happy to see him that happy and to see what he was gonna accomplish with what we were able to do for him.