Next month marks my 20th year of self-employment.

Hard to believe how the years have flown by.

Yes, 20 years ago, after nine years with two different law firms, I had determined it was time for me to walk away from the security of a salary, and start my own practice.

I had a young wife, a mortgage, and plenty of bills to pay.

And, I was excited, but also more than a bit terrified.

Looking back, I can say that two decades of being on my own have exceeded my hopes and dreams.

I'm certainly not rich, but overall I am happy, secure, and content in my chosen profession.

And for that I am most thankful. But perhaps more importantly, I have many people to thank for my good fortune.

That list starts, of course, with my mother and father. From the day of my birth so many years ago, they have seen to it that I was blessed with every benefit that could help ensure success in life, and without that, few succeed. Not just a formal education, but also that which begins with one's earliest moments as to how to act, how to live, and how to conduct oneself. They've been awesome parents, and along my sister, Karla, a wonderful family.

Then there is my wife, Kim. A sweeter woman you will not find. From the beginning, she had undying confidence in me, which she was quick to express whenever I needed a boost, which has been often at times. I might have thought that she was naive in her positive outlook, at times. But as it turns out, she was right. For we have managed to survive the first two decades of my being self employed. Thanks, Honey.

I cannot forget my colleagues at my first job in Kansas City, at the old Knipmeyer, McCann firm, where we toiled away day by day, defending civil lawsuits for insurance companies. What a wonderful opportunity to learn my craft, with some of the best lawyers among the bar -- Mike McCausland, Doug Delsemme, Eric Swanson and Bill Fish to name a few. It wasn't always easy, to be sure, but fortunately at least some of their wisdom and experience managed to rub off on me during my time there, and my memories of those days in the old firm remain firmly ingrained.

Perhaps the greatest stroke of luck in my professional career was coming to Blue Springs. Dave Jeter, Mark Rains and Dave Byrn hired me to be part of their firm here. Those were gloriously happy times. We were like family. They were, and are, wonderful people, whose influence has helped to shape me personally, professionally, and otherwise. Thanks guys, and bless you always.

When I made the decision to break out on my own, Blue Springs lawyer Pat Starke, who by the way is presently the immediate past president of the Missouri Bar, kindly rented me a spare office in his building, and graciously shared with me not only a great amount of wisdom and encouragement, but also a copier, a law library, and a conference room that allowed my newborn solo law practice to survive its infancy. I honestly don't know where I would be without him, and his goodness to me has engendered an inspiration to “pay it forward” to young lawyers whenever I can.

I must also thank my many great clients over the years, for their support and confidence in me, as well as the clients they have referred. Also, I cannot forget the many colleagues in this profession we share who have always been quick to lend an ear and a word of advice when needed: Tom Rodenberg; Jim Young; my buddies at Wright, Green and Baughmann; Susan Green; Steve White; John Jack; Brand Eskew; and Mark Roberts, just to name a few. There are many more.

And finally, I cannot forget my excellent assistant, Mrs. Johnson, who is not only bright, loyal and hardworking, but also puts up with me. Thank you, Theresa.

Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at