When life deals you a tough hand, it’s been said, trials make you stronger. This is the case for Michael Wysocki, whose success story begins in the small East Texas town of Eustace. Michael grew up as a poor child, one of six, who didn’t always know when his next meal would be. When times were the most difficult, cold showers, drinking powdered milk and making a pair of tethered shoes last years caused an internal anger and fierce drive to succeed. Michael admits he didn’t receive the best high school education, and upon graduating, he couldn’t tell you the difference between Picasso and Monet. Yet, he graduated Valedictorian and was the first member in his immediate family to go to college.
Numerous scholarship offers came from the University of Texas at Austin, A&M University, and Arizona, among others, and he turned them all down because of a principal nomination to the Air Force Academy from Congressman Pete Sessions. Two weeks before he was supposed to fly out to Colorado Springs, he sold everything he owned (which wasn’t much), and a letter in the mail from the Department of Defense changed the course of his life forever. In a medical background check, they determined that when Michael was 2 years old, he had been diagnosed with asthma, and just like that, he was automatically disqualified from the Air Force Academy.
So there Michael was, two weeks before college courses were starting, and he had turned down a number of scholarships. UT Tyler, who had offered him a full ride, accepted Michael’s last-minute application. College proved to be challenging though because he was working the nightshift stocking groceries at Brookshire’s and never slept. Initially a pre-med student, he couldn’t keep up with the afternoon Chemistry labs and actually fell asleep in class one day. That’s when Michael realized he had to change his major. A political science major would pave the way into law school.
Coming from Eustace, Texas, Michael says he had a lot to learn. He took so many classes that most of his professors encouraged him to earn his PhD and pursue their respective fields. They admired his hunger for knowledge. Michael wanted to understand the world. He wanted to understand the hand that was dealt to him. While most students aim for a BA in Political Science, Michael’s free tuition offered him the opportunity to take a number of classes, so he minored in Biology, English, Business and Math, and he ended up graduating with his BS in Political Science, Summa Cum Laude (the highest distinction among educational institutions.)
Michael received a full scholarship to Texas Tech School of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude in May of 2006. He worked for a law firm in Lubbock where family lawyer Latrelle Bright Joy would be his mentor. Looking back, Michael says he gave up a cush job offer working with one of the other partners who represented the banks in town, but he was inspired by the work of Latrelle Joy. Even today, he tells colleagues that he saw her “part the Red Sea on an almost weekly basis.” She was a miracle worker and won cases that Michael didn’t think were possible.
Today, as Managing Shareholder of O’Neil Wysocki, PC, clients look up to Michael. He specializes in a variety of family law matters, including complex divorce issues, custody, international child abduction, termination of parental rights, adoption, and grandparent’s rights. He sits behind his desk with a dozen yellow notepads detailing cases, notes and to-do lists and wears a sharp navy vest, deep purple tie, and MDW-embroidered cuffs. Accolades that hang on his wall and celebrity-signed sports memorabilia displayed on his shelf are rewards received along his journey, as well as reminders that the road has not been easy.
Just in the last two years, Michael lost his grandfather, his father and a friend. He calls it the worst two years of his life, and the irony is, he made the most money he’s ever made. His friend who died happen to be the judge on a big case they were right in the middle of, so Michael had to start all over with a new trial. Then, his partners at the law firm (prior to O’Neil Wysocki, PC), retired, leaving that firm in disarray.
June 1, 2015 was a turning point for Michael when he partnered with Michelle O’Neil and formed O’Neil Wysocki, PC. He said he’s come out the end of the tunnel and is shooting for 2016 to be a big turnaround.
I’m not the same person as I was before law school. Law school creates a shift in your thinking process, but that’s the whole point of law school—to change the way you think. I don’t overly dwell on my personal perspectives as much as I do with the application of the facts to the law. I think there has to still be certain liberties that can not be infringed upon, but my personal opinions don’t matter. I look at it from a legal perspective: People are entitled to equal protection under the law, period. That’s what our Constitution says and that’s the way it should be.
The Open Carry Issue
To me, it’s a non-issue. From a strict Constitutional standpoint, the law says we have the right to bear arms…but the government has a balancing act between the welfare of the public and not infringing upon the people’s liberties. I’m a less government kind of guy, and we are in the trenches of a more government climate. I think that people should have as many liberties as possible, to an extent. The purpose of government is to represent the people, so if the people want open carry, then the people should be allowed to carry.
Lead by example. I read a great book called Lincoln on Leadership and it talked about how, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is out in the battle fields; he spent the night in the tents with the troops. He wasn’t sitting in Washington DC at the White House or held up in his house in Illinois. He was out there amongst his people. For me, I try to be the first one in and the last one out. I try to maintain the morale of my colleagues and assist them on their cases. A lot of attorneys hit upper level management and disappear. I’m here. I plan to be present and available and do my best to lead by example.
Hire talent and properly manage my talent. Often times, really good talent is poorly managed. Sometimes drive can be viewed as a challenge to authority, or a threat to authority. I don’t view it that way. I view it as I have people who want to get better. I always try to manage talent by having an open door policy and listening to their input.
Life is hard…but I have things that can’t be taken away: family and an education. At the end of the day, everything that life has dealt upon me has made me stronger and better and more appreciative for what I have…and for the fact that I’m still here, because each day is not guaranteed. All my experiences have made me see that we’re all here together, and we have to get through this life to see what’s on the other side, so how about in the interim, we all just be a little more understanding before the road comes to the end.
O’Neil Wysocki, PC
Plano Office (by appointment only)
6860 North Dallas Parkway, Ste. 200
Plano, TX 75024