Everyday People, Make the World Go Round – Meet Dennis Gonzalez, Jr., Esq.
Name: Dennis Gonzalez Jr., Esq.
Company: Dennis Gonzalez Jr., P.A.
Major City Where You Work: Miami, Florida; Miami-Dade County, Florida
City Where You Live: Miami, Florida
Please, share your personal and cultural background with our readers.
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I grew up in the Westchester area of Miami-Dade County during the 1980s. I attended South West Miami High school where I was on the wrestling team, and graduated in 1996. I was never a stellar student, but I was persistent and worked hard when necessary. My mother was born in Cuba. When she moved to the United States, she was about 13 years old, (this I was in the ’60s). My father was born in Manhattan, New York, He then lived in Cuba for a short period of time just before the Cuban revolution until he and my grandparents moved back to the United States. (I’m sure you can guess why.)
Upon graduating from my South West Miami High School, I opened a cellphone firmware engineering company in 2002-2003 until I started attending the University of Miami and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration. In 2008, I was admitted to St. Thomas University School of Law, graduated in 2011, passed the Florida Bar. I was blessed with the opportunity to begin my legal career as an Assistant State Attorney for Miami-Dade County. In 2006, I met my wonderful wife and biggest fan, Annette. We now have four wonderful children. We are happy to be in Miami, back in the old neighborhood where I grew up in Westchester. I am now in private practice where I handle Criminal Defense and Homeowner’s Insurance Litigation and Adjusting.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday personal life.
A typical day at home starts with breakfast with my wife and kids in the mornings. I try to make breakfast myself, other times my oldest daughter requests that I take them to Starbucks early in the morning, usually before sunrise. I am usually back at home by 6-7 PM to spend time with my kids, discuss homework or have dinner together. Sometimes we just go out for dinner during the week. Our family tends to go to our neighborhood Italian restaurant a lot, Nunzio’s. I am usually in bed by 10 PM on weeknights.
We enjoy watching movies together and going to Disney World in Orlando. My kids and I play video games together! We also love going on cruises but have had to postpone our cruising until we get past the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident our community and the country will overcome the corona virus crisis and come out stronger in the end.
Tell us why you do, what you do, for a living.
Practicing law in Miami is a great privilege. I sincerely enjoy working with the people in our community. I enjoy solving their problems and making them feel comfortable. When I see someone come into my office in a state of anxiety or distress, which is all too often, my goal is to make them smile and relax. As their legal advisor, I try to put things in perspective for them so that they feel better about the situation and give them a sense that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This applies to criminal defense and property insurance litigation cases as well.
Tell us about the factors that shaped your career and business aspirations.
My wife and children shaped my career objectives and goals. I wanted to do something that was true to who I am as a person, allowed me to make some sort of a living, and spend time with my wife and kids.
How did you end up in your line of work? Was it accidental or were you strategic about it?
I would love to sit here and tell you that I planned this all strategically, but there was no strategy involved. I chose to be a lawyer because I thought, (at the time), it was an easy way to get involved with the community and help people. I had no prior point of reference to know what I was getting into. I wasn’t close to anyone that was a lawyer who could have explained the profession to me. I don’t think I even knew what a lawyer was when I was a kid. I was completely ignorant to the profession and I can see now that I am humbled by what I have learned and experienced. I have gained respect for lawyers and the profession after I learned what it was to be one.
Please share with us a current typical day or week in your everyday professional life.
My typical day involves: court appearances in the mornings, about one jail visit per week, multiple client meetings throughout the day, settlement negotiations on the phone, overseeing my associate’s motions, litigation tasks, managing property claims litigation staff, criminal litigation assistant, depositions, and arguing with insurance companies.
Share how you balance the work-life challenges…what have been the rewards.
In terms of work-life challenged, I have had to learn to juggle. It is sometimes admittedly not easy, given that I feel a great personal responsibility for my clients and my family. However, the rewards have been clients that are forever grateful. These people will not spend the rest of their lives in prison or clients that received the money they needed to have a home for their family. My wife and children are my rewards…just spending time with them makes all the stress of my profession worth it.
Did your ethnicity create any obstacles for you? Any advantages? How so?
In South Florida, being of Cuban descent is not an obstacle. I will say that growing up in Westchester in the 1980’s did give me a bit of an advantage when it comes to relating to my clients who are 90% Hispanic and culturally Cuban.
What advice would you have for other Latinos in the business sector trying to make it day after day?
Don’t ever give in, don’t ever give up! Sometimes when you think you aren’t going to make it or its just gotten too hard it’s because you are about to achieve something incredible. Just keep pushing and trying and don’t let others dictate how far you should or shouldn’t go.
What inspires you in your work life? What turns you off?
My inspiration comes from doing the right thing even when the right thing to do is difficult, not appreciated, and/or not noticed. To me, turn offs are fights and battles for the sake of confrontation and nothing more.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It’s better to be incorrect or wrong in good faith than to fight for the sake of being right and nothing more. Fighting to be right without dept is like a ship in the middle of the ocean with no destination.
Do you think you have ever truly “made it” in life?
This depends on how you define success. I don’t think we ever truly make it in life. I try to always be open to learning something new. I approach life with a sense of humility and gratitude. After all, life is just a temporary blip in time.
If you could have dinner with any Latinx person—living or dead–who would it be? Why?
I would love to have dinner with my Dad who passed away in September of 2017. I would like to get his take on the coronavirus. He was a family practitioner and I always enjoyed discussing these types of topics with him.
What is your favorite quote/saying? Give us your own personal quote to commemorate at LBT.
“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” -Babe Ruth
My own personal quote…that my staff is tired of hearing me repeat over and over… “If you didn’t annotate the file, it never happened..”
-Dennis Gonzalez, Jr., Esq.