Father-Son Legal Team That Almost Wasn’t 6/16/17 06/16/17 12:05:36 AM
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Mark Milone (left) and his son Michael give each other legal advice on their respective areas of expertise.
Father-Son Legal Team That Almost Wasn’t
By Dennis Friend
The Daily Record
There are those people who always knew they were born to be attorneys, those who were convinced, even as children, that they were destined to argue cases in front of juries and judges.
Mark Milone and his son Michael Milone are not in that group. They had other ideas, yet you’ll find them hard at work as practicing attorneys at Koukol & Johnson LLC.
Ask Mark Milone: Was he always interested in law? Well, no. After graduating from Burke High School in 1975, he attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Between 1975 and 1981, “I tried journalism. I tried psychology. I tried business.” He took home his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1981.
But something clicked for him when he went for a law degree at Creighton University School of Law. He obtained his juris doctorate degree in 1984 “in a terrible recession. I started practicing law in 1985.”
Today, Mark Milone is a member of the Nebraska and American Bar Association Family Law Sections and focuses his practice in the areas of divorce and family law, small business, trusts, wills and probate of estates. Divorce law has been his primary area of practice throughout his 32-year career. He has successfully argued cases before the county court, district court, court of appeals and Nebraska Supreme Court and estimates 95 percent of his practice has been devoted to litigation. He went to work first for Pollak & Frank.
“When I found a job at Pollak & Frank, Oliver [Pollak] was my first mentor,” Mark Milone recalled. “I was looking to do divorces and to get into courtrooms fast.” Three years later he moved to Frost, Meyers Guilfoyle & Govier, then to Schmid, Mooney & Frederick, then back to Frost, Meyers, Guilfoyle “which became Govier & Milone. I was there 22 years.” He stopped to think. “I was there until January of this year [when he joined Koukol & Johnson], so maybe a little more than 22 years.”
What about Michael Milone? No doubt the idea of following in his father’s footsteps came into play.
Uh, no. He, too, had his own ideas. He graduated from Creighton Prep in 2008, but said, “I avoided law for a long time. I didn’t want to be a legacy attorney. I have two degrees, one in philosophy and one in psychology. It’s ironic. I ended up doing what I never thought I would do.”
Michael Milone picked up his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln – a double major in philosophy and psychology awarded magna cum laude. But he also graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Law, obtaining his “honors with distinction” juris doctorate.
His areas of expertise included real estate transactions, creditor-side collections and bankruptcy, construction law, family law, criminal law, commercial litigation, and appellate advocacy. He is also a certified family law mediator.
Michael Milone describes his practice as 50 percent commercial law, 25 percent family law and 25 percent criminal law. About half of his practice is devoted to litigation.
He first went to work as a law clerk for Govier & Milone Law (his dad’s firm) as a law clerk from 2006 to 2012, then for the McHenry Haszard Law in Lincoln from 2013 to 2015.
“I am licensed to practice in Nebraska state courts, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.” His long term goals include defending capital criminal cases, arguing before the Nebraska Supreme Court and becoming a state or federal judge.
How did the father and son wind up working together?
The way Mark Milone tells it, it seemed almost destined.
“I knew David Koukal from high school bowling and he was looking to expand. Michael had just graduated from UNL and the next thing you know, he’s working for Dave.”
Michael Milone picked up the narrative.
“I had just started working with Dave as an associate after graduating in June of 2015. I passed the bar in 2015, I was sworn in Sept 22, 2015, along with 150-plus graduate students. I showed up and David started putting things on my desk.”
Within six months, the newly-minted attorney had helped in a five-day construction trial, second chaired and helped prepare witnesses.
Mark interjects – “He second-chaired me before that in the court of appeals.”
The two speak easily between themselves, and both agree there never was an attempt to influence a career direction for Michael to follow.
“We never pushed or tried to persuade,” Mark Milone remembered. Well, except perhaps one time during his school years when Michael was trying to decide what sport to play.
“We told him ‘Play to your strength, and yours is between your ears.’ He made the choice,” Mark Milone said.
And so, both Milones are now attorneys at the Koukol & Johnson law firm in Omaha. They both insist it works for them because they have a mutual respect for the other’s abilities.
Their firm has a diverse general practice, with special expertise in advanced collection law, foreclosures, complex bankruptcy, banking and credit union law, family law, and private mediation services.
Mark Milone’s business card now reads “Of Counsel.”
“I let him do his thing and I even come to him for advice,” Mark Milone said about working with his son.
“If I have family law questions, I’ll go to him. Criminal level questions come to me,” Michael said.
Any disagreements? Nothing serious, Mark Milone said.
“Usually, you listen to points of view. We’re family. We’re responsible and rational most of the time.”
Michael Milone pointed out, “We work well together and separately,” paused and added, “and we work at different ends of the building.”
We’re pretty sure they’ll be celebrating Father’s Day together too this weekend. After all, they are not just colleagues, they’re family.