PALM BAY — Talk to his peers and they will tell you. O. John Alpizar has never been afraid to dig in his heels and fight for his clients.
After all, that is how the Key West native has managed to build a successful personal injury law practice in Palm Bay over the last three decades.
Now, Alpizar Law, LLC is entering a new era, with a second generation joining the practice to continue the fight.
“I got tired of working for corporate America,” said David Alpizar, 28, an attorney who left his position with an Orlando insurance company to join his father’s practice in May.
“I wanted to use my law degree to give back to people that have been hurt. I looked at jobs in Orlando before coming to him in January or February and asking what he thought of us working together,” said the younger Alpizar, a newlywed with two young daughters.
It was a proud moment for his father, who admits he never broached the topic of his son working with him as a law partner.
“Most fathers would love the opportunity to have their children come work with them. But I pushed David to do the opposite; go get experience and do what he wanted to do. I think it turned out better for us that he came to his own decision to join the law practice,” said John Alpizar, who also has three other children.
Now, he is excited with the opportunity to be a mentor to his son, sharing his experience in legal matters, especially his specialty in personal injury and wrongful death.
“I think we do so much good for so many people who are oftentimes abused by big business and insurance companies. We try to level the playing field,” he said.
Meanwhile, David sees the partnership as an opportunity to benefit clients by using the knowledge he gleaned defending insurance companies against lawsuits.
“I think the experience gave me a good idea of how insurance companies work, from collecting information, investigations in response to accidents and the type of defense they raise in suits to minimize or challenge claims,” he said.
He even sees some of his old colleagues sitting across the table during legal discussions.
“I believe that’s a benefit because we have the potential to resolve things amicably before litigation based on those established relationships,” he said.
For now, David is adjusting to working in the law firm.
Still, working with a relative cannot be easy.
But both Alpizars say they understand that in the office, it’s all business.
“We’ve been able to keep our father-son relationship but we know that when we’re here, it’s about work. My father is very good at what he does so it can be demanding, time consuming. But he’s been a great mentor, I’ve learned a lot,” David Alpizar said.
The good working relationship hasn’t gone unnoticed by other office employees like Dennis Bickford, a former insurance adjuster who has worked as a paralegal at the law firm for 15 years.
“David is a hardworking student of the law who knows the law. He grew up in this environment and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a very successful trial attorney,” Bickford said.
“As a defense attorney, David has the perspective of knowing how the other side handles things. Having him join the firm only strengthens our image,” he added.
John Alpizar, who recently celebrated his 54th birthday, said he has no plans to retire anytime soon, although he already has the pleasure of spending time with his three grandchildren
“When they start talking, I want them to call me ‘abuelo,’ just like my kids call my father,” he said, referring to his father, Octavio, a retired electric company worker who came to the U.S. from Cuba.
“The most important thing is we now have two generations of Alpizars in the community doing the same thing: helping injured victims. I’m really enjoying what we are doing here,” he said.
By Rolanda H. Gallop
Al Día Today