Untethered in 2012

This video was shot in 2018, the post was written in 2012.


A Statement by Donald L. West, Jr., JD

Untethered.  That is the goal.  This piece was inspired by three people that I have known-

1)  Professor Marc Fajer of University of Miami School Law;

2)  Melissa Presser author of the blog Mary F. Poppins ; and,

3)  My old boss and good friend Leigh Steinberg.

And also by one person that I have never met- Catherine Zeta-Jones. So now I have shared the goal and the inspiration, but you are probably asking why does he feel tethered in the first place?  Well, for the past four years I have lived in “the cave,” hiding from the world ~ trying to hide from the truth.  (I know your like Donald’s been in a cave the past four years?  Wait till you see me when I get out of the cave at the end of this…)  I have felt as though there was a rock, a weight, a burden so huge and big on my back that I could not look to face the warm rays of the sun, nor the cool sparkle of the stars.  So here goes my statement, the truth shall set you free…

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an attorney, many people have heard me tell my story.  Then very late one evening on Miami Beach in 2001, my old roomie from law school, in his capacity as a Florida Notary, swore me into The Florida Bar.  Well, my life’s quests were complete, I was an attorney and a sports attorney at that – done and done.  What next, where is the next great insurmountable mountain to climb?  Boy if I only knew then that the little molehill I was looking for was actually a tiny foothill at the beginning of the great Andes Mountain range.  So here is the deal, in or around 2001 I became aware that I was different than other people.  I say aware because prior to attending law school I had obtained a degree in psychology from Florida State.  More than once during many an undergrad psychology class reading assignments or during a bit of self-reflection I would think, boy that sounds a bit like me.  And in 2001 at the age of 27 things began to change with my mood and energy levels.

Like many others before me impacted by all sorts of challenges I had and have developed coping mechanisms to appear as ‘normal’ as all of you.  So, let’s fast forward to the end 2008 when Kaynaz, (my then girlfriend, now wife), was in Dubai completing her MBA and I was state-side in Miami, Florida working as you guessed it – an attorney.  Some things had changed, I was no longer working as a sports lawyer, I had refocused my practice on the estate & legacy planning areas of concentration, but to keep revenues flowing to my solo practice my caseload looked much more similar to a general practitioner.

I was rocking things, I had clients, I had co-authored a book, launched a publishing company was named a Fellow of the American Bar Association in Trusts & Estates and then in December 2008 ~ a bi-polar episode.  This was not the first and probably will not be the last that I will experience in my life, but at least in this case, as well as others in the past, this episode proved to be life-altering.

Much of this was due to the fact that I always worked to keep it quite, hidden – I felt compelled too, was wrongly counseled by fellow attorneys and even a therapist or two who’d say, ‘Don’t let anyone find out.”  But that is like trying to hide crutches under a trench coat.  Bottomline, “I was taken out of the Game.”  The result was that I had to step away and take some time to take care of myself.  Don West, Jr. required an unscheduled sabbatical.  These types of sabbaticals often have dire and long-lasting consequences. Mine was not any different.  I failed to properly close out numerous open items, including several of my legal clients’ cases.  I made errors in managing my condition prior to the episode and am responsible for all the consequences of said mismanagement.

I am guilty of being an ineffective and consequently dishonest lawyer during this period.  In the end, I have failed to communicate with the Bar because I was too ashamed, to tell the truth.  It has consequences; everything does.  So the truth is that Don West, Jr. is a ‘wee bit’ bi-polar, currently in the midst of serving a one-year suspension [that was extended to three years in total for delays in making restitution and failing to communicate] from the Florida Bar for being a “Dishonest” attorney and I still dream of building on the work of Leigh Steinberg and changing the world in unbelievable ways.  I am a dreamer and I always have been.  But I also make my dreams come true – I’ve been doing it all my life. “Imma be what I set out to be, without a doubt, undoubtedly.” Lucky for me that I am also a high hurdler, cause I got a hella lot of hurdles to get over….

Here is the clipping from the Florida Bar News as it appeared on March 11, 2011:

That is all folks, that is as juicy as the skeletons in the closet get.   But now that they are out – I am UNTETHERED!

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Don West, Jr. is a corporate mystic who enjoys a delectable meal and a stiff Manhattan. Intrigued by the subjects of legacy and success he makes time to explore both. An entrepreneur at heart he thrives on helping individuals and entities grow and transform. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Kay and their adorable little Pekingese - Duchess.

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