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How A Visionary Turns Happenstance Into A Legacy

Each episode of the podcast How I Built This features the host Guy Raz interviewing an entrepreneur to hear and learn how they grew an idea, such as a new way to sell men’s suits, into a successful business, like the Men’s Wearhouse.  At the end of each podcast, Mr. Raz always asks his guest what portion of their success they attribute to luck versus their skill, intellect, and hard work, and every guest always admits that success is a product of both. I imagine if Guy had my Partner David Kaman on the podcast, an honor David richly deserves, David would give a similar answer. 

David Kaman

The good fortune in David’s career came at the very beginning. David went to college intent on being a news reporter and interned at Channel 8 in Cleveland for a period of time.  Dwindling fortunes at Channel 8 lead to a conversation with his college roommate whose brother, Bruce Fedor, was an attorney.  That conversation led David to law school.

During law school, David worked as a law clerk at Bruce Fedor’s law firm. The law firm was a general practice firm, whose clients included the owner of a number of rental properties in Northeast Ohio.  Coincidentally, while in law school, the Ohio legislature made sweeping changes to the Ohio Condominium Act, which along with favorable Federal tax laws, set up a welcomed opportunity for the conversion of rental properties into condominium developments. 

These happenstance events—a college roommate whose brother is a lawyer and whose firm represents a landlord owning multiple rental properties at a time when converting those properties into condominiums is financially wise—all occurred while David owned a condominium himself where he served on the board for nine years, six as board President.  Those “lucky” events largely took place outside David’s control or influence.  But in those circumstances, David saw the ingredients of a future law practice that barely existed at the time: the representation of communities.

Three years later, after graduating from law school, David took on his first association client. Over the next four decades, David built a practice that took a few hours of his time a week at the outset to one that now employs 24 attorneys and a staff of 30 working on a fulltime basis exclusively serving the needs and interests of communities throughout Ohio and into northern Kentucky.  David was able to do so as he saw from the beginning a need to not only provide quality, effective legal advice, but to do so with a critical focus on one client at time.  To understand that whatever the issue or concern a board had, that their issue mattered most. 

By unburdening boards of their concerns and making them his own, David laid the foundation for a practice that provides not just legal advice, but practical support as well.  David foresaw that boards would be best served having access to an attorney on a regular basis, where a free telephone call could provide a quick answer to a problem before it became a costly dispute. David appreciated that a board of volunteers whose goal is doing what is best for their community—every board member having a significant financial and personal investment in their own home within the community—would benefit from an annual program providing regular, invaluable education and training, showing that a preventative approach to serving communities would most often protect and promote unity in each community.

I recount this history of the founding of our Firm Kaman & Cusimano as after 42 years in the practice of law, on December 31, 2022, my Partner, my mentor, my friend, David W. Kaman retired. A bittersweet moment to be sure as David takes leave to enjoy the success he sowed and we celebrate and honor David’s career. 

A visionary in every sense of the word, David has done what most people only dream about: taking a new, novel idea and through an unparalleled set of skills combined with a passion for serving others to create an organization that is recognized as the best at what it does on the local, State, and national level.  More importantly, David created an organization that cares; cares about every client it represents and cares about every individual within the firm.

As we move into the time after David, we know we can never replace the person and the personality.  But, we will forever be grateful for David’s ability to take his vision and make it a reality of a law firm whose foundation and structure is second to none and will continue to be the standard bearer for the representation of communities for another 40 years and beyond.  And, over the years to come, each and every person at Kaman & Cusimano will do all that we can to make David feel as proud of us as we are proud of and thankful to David.

 

Written by Joseph J. Cusimano, Esq.; 2023 Kaman Report Issue No. 1

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