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Texas solo Tim Rusk isn’t spinning any tales when he says, “About 364 days a year, I’m mild-mannered Bedford attorney Tim Rusk. One or two days of the year, I’m a superhero, Spider-Man.” At the May 3 premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Spider-Man,” you could easily spot Rusk outside the theater amid other fans waiting to see the flick: He was the one donning the familiar blue and red costume and netting everyone’s attention — including news crews reporting about the event. Spider-Man has always been Rusk’s favorite superhero because of the cool costume. So when Rusk needed a Halloween costume when he was a sacker at a grocery store and the employees were dressing up, Spidey seemed like the costume to wear. His aunt made it for him. Now 25 years later, Rusk says on a day-to-day basis, a solo’s practice can benefit from Spider-Man’s wisdom and behavior. � Realize your power: “There’s a similarity between practicing law and being Spider-Man,” Rusk says. “Lawyers have power, too. One decision can change society. “Just like Uncle Ben said to his nephew Peter Parker [aka Spider-Man] in the movie, ‘With great power there must also come great responsibility.’ Lawyers have great responsibility,” Rusk says. That’s one thing the usually joking and jovial lawyer takes seriously — his responsibilities as an attorney. The staff at the Colleyville and Southlake municipal courts in Tarrant County vouch for Rusk’s professionalism. “He’s very good dealing with his clients,” says Karen Randolph, court administrator at Colleyville. � Pro bono is important: “I do advocate pro bono work, and I often will reduce my fee or waive my fee for indigent clients in the fields of law for which I practice. … Helping a client with their legal concerns is our duty as lawyers.” Spider-Man didn’t help those in need because they paid him; he helped because he had the power to, and they were in need. Solos should remember that, Rusk says. � Net some laughs: “I just went to a CLE class, and a subject brought up was that there’s an increasing percentage of depression and substance abuse in the law profession. Those things happen when you … focus so much on your practice that you take it too seriously. If you take this job too seriously, you can get tangled in a web. “I traditionally try to liven things up at the courts,” notes the Indiana native who received his bachelor’s in finance at the University of Colorado in Boulder and his J.D. from Texas Tech University School of Law. The clerks at the courts also vouch for the fact that Rusk, like Spidey, is quite a character. Randolph, who’s been at the courthouse ever since Rusk started practicing almost 10 years ago, saw the newscast about the movie premiere and the man in costume; upon hearing the anchor describe the scene by saying “a Bedford man,” Randolph knew it was Rusk. Rusk had worn the costume before: to court on Halloween. “It’s a darn good thing the costume’s made out of spandex and real stretchy. Spider-Man’s put on about 25 pounds since it was made,” Rusk notes and laughs. The Spidey suit isn’t the only costume he’s known for, though. “Last Halloween, he came in dressed like a cereal killer — wearing a black shirt with shredded cereal boxes all over it,” recalls Rhdonda Walley, a court clerk in Southlake. For Thanksgiving, he came to court as a pilgrim. At Christmas, he was Santa Claus. � Find Your Strength: In difficult situations, Parker drew on his inner strength that came from Spider-Man. Rusk finds his inner strength as a solo in a strong, spiritual foundation. “I list my title on my business card as ‘Attorney and Counselor,’” Rusk says. “That is because I believe that the practice of law consists of a lot more than just giving legal advice.” That became crystal clear to him when he had probably the most rewarding experience he’s ever had as an attorney at, of all places, a client’s funeral. A female relative of the client approached Rusk. About a year before, the relative had sought legal counsel from him. He could tell she was struggling and took her to lunch and gave her copies of some books about coping when facing bleak circumstances. She told Rusk she was suicidal when she walked into his office, but left with hope. For solos, the competition is fierce. Financial pressures can be severe. Working with some clients and other lawyers can be difficult. “And sometimes you are going to have to say no to your client when he or she wants you to do something that is questionable,” Rusk says. “This may cause you to lose a client and money at a time when, as a solo, you really need clients and money.” A strong spiritual foundation helps. � Be an action figure: Rusk says lawyers can learn from the plot of “Spider-Man.” In the movie, an unscrupulous businessman cheats Parker out of his pay. A bandit robs the businessman in his office. As the bandit runs from the scene, Parker had the chance to stop him, but chose not to because he was angry over being cheated. Later, the bandit murdered Parker’s uncle. The scene provides a lesson: In all business dealings, solos must “put their belief and values into action. When we do not take action when we should, other innocent people often suffer consequences that could have been avoided had we taken action.” � Be a superhero: “A superhero is anyone who makes a difference in another person’s life,” Rusk says. “As lawyers, we have great power and a corresponding great responsibility to make a difference in people’s lives. You can do it by dressing up as Spider-Man, passing out cookies at the court and making the court clerks laugh. You can do it by counseling a client and giving him or her hope to carry on in life. We all can be superheroes. You will find life is much more fulfilling as a superhero.”

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