Concord Law School grad Dolan Williams shares lessons learned — and his commitment to family
Maybe you know the feeling. You’re settled into a comfortable job and hitting targets. Things are going well. Then it happens. The rumor mills start creaking into motion, and with one word, your heart sinks: layoffs.
That’s exactly where Dolan Williams found himself in 2010.
“There were probably three major rounds of layoffs per year,” Williams says. “I knew it was a matter of time before I was next. I decided that I needed to make a change, but I just didn’t know what that was.”
With his wife at home taking care of their three children and a fourth on the way, there was added pressure.
Then he got a crazy idea. He turned to his wife and asked, “What if I became a lawyer?”
Williams had zero connections to the field, no friends or family who were lawyers. And it hadn’t necessarily been something he had in mind in his younger years.
Call it a hunch or an intuition: He had a feeling about it, and just as importantly, he had his wife’s belief.
That kind of family support hadn’t always been a given in Williams’ life. Growing up in a single-parent household, his mother struggled with untreated mental health issues, and his brother was in trouble with the law from the time he was a teenager.
“It was very isolating,” Williams shares.
Listening to Williams speak about his upbringing, it isn’t possible to detect any bitterness or discontent. Rather, it’s the gratitude for where he is today that’s so evident.
“I bring up my own family so much because having them was the first time that I felt like people really loved me unconditionally and that they were willing to help me succeed.”
Besides starting law school and welcoming an addition to their family, there was another big change for the Williamses. They moved from Phoenix to Rancho Cucamonga in Southern California. While the move represented new opportunities, it also meant a longer commute.
“It’s about an hour commute from Rancho to Pasadena,” Williams says. “I did that every day for about six months. And all the while, I was still able to be in school that whole time.”
But not without the constant support from his wife.
“I would be lying if I said that I just did this all on my own. There was no chance in hell,” Williams says. “I didn’t have to schedule my own doctor’s appointments. I didn’t need to manage the money. My wife took care of all of that so I could focus on work and school.”
Not everyone was equally supportive.
“I had an old high school classmate swear I would never get a job with an online degree, so I’d be better off dropping out,” Williams shares.
And at times, Williams had his own insecurities. Was he up for this? Was this the right program? Would it pay off? At one point during his first year, he found himself in danger of failing a criminal law class.
“I had been performing poorly on my written exams,” Williams reflects. “But I overcame it with the help of people who knew better than me. One of Concord’s writing professors worked with me to help me practice my essay writing skills on her own free time.”
And that high school friend who doubted Williams?
“I stopped talking to my friend — and anyone else — who didn’t believe that what I wanted to do was possible.”
Defining his own path
In the end, Williams realized something he had known all along: He had to create his own path and stop worrying about other people’s opinions. Comparing himself to others? It just wasn’t worth his time.
“I chose a path that fit my life and my work, and my life and work deserved its own path, not someone else’s,” he says.
After graduating from Concord Law School in 2015 and passing the California bar exam the following year, he went to work for a law office in San Diego.
I chose a path that fit my life and my work, and my life and work deserved its own path, not someone else’s.Dolan Williams
“At first, it was amazing,” Williams says. “I felt like I’d finally arrived. I had my own office; I had an assistant — it was fantastic. But the hours were crushing.”
After so much sacrifice, Williams was hoping for more reward in the form of time with his family. Instead, he found himself working every day from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
“I couldn’t spend any time with my family. I couldn’t do anything else with my life.”
It didn’t take Williams long to realize that this wasn’t what he wanted for himself — or for his family. Less than a year after beginning work, he put in his two-week notice. He’d gotten the degree he wanted and done it on his own terms. Now it was time for a career to match suit.
“I decided that I was just going to finally do what I set out to do back in 2010: run my own practice,” Williams says.
So, in June 2017, Williams opened his own law office. Along the way, he found he could do this from home. No more 12-hour workdays, no more congested commutes.
“Purdue Global helped me get the autonomy that I’ve always been looking for, and helping other small business owners in my community has been rewarding,” Williams says.
Asked what lesson he hopes his children take from his experience with Purdue Global, Williams is clear: It’s all about family.
“It’s always family first, no matter what we do,” Williams shares. “It’s not the money or prestige. It’s family first.
“When I wake up with my wife in a safe neighborhood, with money saved for my kids to go to college, I’m grateful,” he says. “I figure that if someone can rise from the depths in a situation like mine, anyone can.”
Purdue Global helped me get the autonomy that I’ve always been looking for.Dolan Williams