Boca Raton, Florida (PRWEB) January 18, 2010
Normally, it’s the criminals who run from the law, not the lawyers. Then again, listening to Attorney Sonia Gallagher speak, it is obvious that very little of her story can be considered normal. Gallagher is a self-described “retired” lawyer, who now coaches other professionals to success.
In some ways her story is actually very similar to other professionals who have had to reexamine their career and life goals in a new economy. Yet, in other ways, it could not possibly be more different.
According to Gallagher, what she is doing now at Time for Life, LLC., is much more interesting than everything she has experienced in her life so far. But, after hearing her story, most people would have a tough time believing that. After all, it’s a story that involves fleeing from another country, working for the CIA, and being involved in a shooting, not to mention short appearances by the then President of the United States, several Foreign Consulates, and a stuffed animal named Batts Maroo. Oh, and did I mention she’s only 30 years old?
According to Gallagher, her intense drive to help and protect other people came at the age of 5. “My dad was very abusive. He would beat my mom, and I remember getting in the middle of them and telling him to hit me instead. When I was 8, he attacked my mom particularly badly with a knife. When she defended herself, he swore that he would burn us alive in our sleep. The next day, my mom , who barely spoke English at the time, fled from Puerto Rico to the US to take care of three young children all by herself.”
The experience manifested itself in Sonia by making her intensely driven, very protective of her mother and family, and later self-destructing every opportunity for a healthy relationship with a man. It also instilled a tendency to withdraw into books, which eventually resulted in full scholarships to the University of Miami for her Psychology degree and the University of Florida for her Doctorate in Law.
Before attending the University of Florida, she actually passed up the chance for a full ride to Georgetown University for law. “That’s when I was working for the CIA,” says Gallagher. “At the time I was still traumatized about men and had decided that I would be single my whole life traveling the world with the agency.” “They had me conducting intelligence on high profile foreign targets from Washington DC. One day, walking out of a building I ended up caught in the middle of a shooting. To this day I don’t know if it was related to the work I was doing, but lying on the ground there gave me a new perspective to rethink my career decisions.”
About that same time, Gallagher was handling additional stress when she had to rush across several states in the early morning to donate blood when her brother had to be airlifted to the emergency room and almost died after a massive car accident. “On top of that, after a change of administration in the White House, the CIA had started subtly suggesting I learn Arabic languages. It turns out that a Puerto Rican with dark hair and my complexion looked strikingly Middle Eastern. I could see the writing on the wall , so when the opportunity to attend law school in DC arose, I turned it down and moved back south to attend the University of Florida.”
Sonia recalls that during that period she was still getting over her ‘man trauma’, so when the opportunity presented itself during law school, she began travel extensively through Europe and North Africa. She spent nearly a year studying and traveling through France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and a dozen other countries. During that time, she also worked at the International Court of the Hague on the International Convention for Abduction of the Child.
Gallagher is quick to admit that part of the purpose for the trip was running away from her demons and she went into a minor depression when it was finally time to return to the US. “As usual, I filled the void with work. After graduating and passing the Bar, I went to work for a District Court of Appeals Judge. Following that job, I quickly moved through several law firms in different areas of law looking for something personally meaningful.
After managing someone else’s firm for about a year, “I finally decided to open my own firm. As much as I enjoyed the freedom and challenge of having my own law firm, it still felt as though something was missing. I was being published in local newspapers across the country, being interviewed for local TV and radio, and I was interviewing Foreign Consulates on camera for a new immigration website I had created. It all just came natural to me. In college, I had represented the University of Miami on several occasions, even interviewing President Clinton as part of a function. My firm also established the first online client referral program, based on Florida Bar guidelines, which was very gutsy, in retrospect.”
While she was still looking for a sense of fulfillment in her career, one area of her life was coming together. “After returning from Europe, I finally decided to make room for a man in my life. We met online. He asked me to be his girlfriend under the fireworks at Disney World. We were supposed to fly to New Orleans to meet his parents the weekend before, but had to cancel our flight due to ‘weather conditions’ It’s a real shame not having seen New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.”
“He proposed to me two years later at the top of the Piti Palace gardens, overlooking the Tuscan countryside in Florence, Italy. It was 5 minutes after closing and we were watching the sunset, when the guard came to let us know the gardens were closing. ‘Amore’, I explained through tear drenched eyes, pointing at the ring. He paused and said ‘Ahh Amore Ciuso’ which means closed. We still laugh about that.”
Unfortunately, while preparing for the wedding, Gallagher ran into another problem. “My head paralegal accidentally mailed some documents to the wrong address. A short time later, I had to let her go for other reasons, but I was still liable for the error. When the economy went south in 2008 that client got into financial trouble. After running out of other people to sue, she turned to me. This wasn’t until after dragging me in front of the Florida Bar just to make a paperwork trail for her case. Where the average paperwork for this runs 5-6 pages, she submitted over 100, consisting of all sorts of wild allegations. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. She came to me initially to file a complaint against someone. During the course of our working together, I even referred her to another attorney, because she wanted to sue someone else for a completely unrelated matter. That attorney, who was a friend of mine, asked me to please not send him any more clients like that. Anyway, to make a long story short, the Bar dismissed the case without prejudice. Of course the timing of this was in the weeks leading up to my wedding. Fun times! It’s hard to explain what it does to you when someone’s motivations require them to attack your character and try to take away a license that you have worked for harder than anything else in your entire life.”
“Shortly after the wedding, I was served with a lawsuit from the same client, only to discover that I had not enacted my liability insurance until a few weeks after opening my firm, and as luck would have it, she had been my first client.” “It taught me a lot about what is really important in life,” she says. As a result, Gallagher went through a period of intense self examination. She started a website (http://www.mymeditationgarden.com), which quickly drew in popularity, attracting some major figures in the field of meditation. “It was nice to be recognized in that way,” she says. “These people don’t care about your professional achievements. Gaining their respect is a matter of attaining a whole di