Liberal Arts and the Law – Jim Dressman’s Tale of TMC
Jim Dressman feels right at home in his Crestview Hills office at Dressman Benzinger LaVelle Law. Could that be because the firm is named after his father, a former attorney and judge? Or could it be because Dressman is very proud of the work he and his colleagues do both legally and philanthropically? Or could it be because Dressman’s office sits exactly where his Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity house once stood when he was a student at Thomas More College? “I never ventured very far from campus,” Dressman jokes. “I tell people not to dig too deep around here.”
Truly, Dressman has not ventured far from the liberal arts education he received at TMC. “It teaches you how to think, how to use logic. The technical side of being a lawyer anybody can learn. It is how you use that technical knowledge that sets you apart,” Dressman says.
Two things were never a question for Dressman. He knew from a young age that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lawyer. He also never questioned that Thomas More College is where he would get his undergraduate degree. Of course, the fact that he received a full scholarship didn’t hurt to make that goal a reality. “I had a great liberal arts education with a Catholic bent to it,” Dressman recalls. “I remember in philosophy class, we used deductive reason, which I also used in law school, to come to the conclusion that life starts at the fertilization of an egg.”
His education has served him well. When he started with DBL Law right out of law school, he was the fifth lawyer in the firm. “I was low man on the totem pole, so anybody who walked through the door was my client,” he says. “I’ve represented felons, done divorces, done everything.”
Dressman has come a long way from those days. He currently manages the firm. He also maintains an active law practice specializing in financial transactions, business mergers and asset acquisitions and sales, and real estate acquisitions and development. “I went to Covington Latin School, TMC, and law school and graduated thinking I’m not just going to get a job. It’s a vocation—it is so much more than punching a time clock,” Dressman says passionately. For Dressman and his colleagues, part of that vocation involves giving back to the community. “It’s truly embracing the community, identifying areas where the community can use some help and doing what you can do to make a difference,” Dressman says.
Without question, DBL Law delivers on that mission. Dressman serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Freestore Foodbank. He also volunteers his time with the Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal, the Alliance for Catholic Urban Education, the Northern Kentucky Chamber Board of Advisors, and Volunteer Lawyers of Northern Kentucky. DBL Law actively supports more than two dozen charities—from the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, to Hospice of Cincinnati, to Welcome House. The firm’s philanthropic efforts touch thousands of lives across the area, all in an effort to make the community a better place. “That’s what we insist upon—that everyone here be rooted in their community and consider how individually and collectively we can make a positive difference,” Dressman says. “It’s our Christian values.”
Christian values are ingrained in Dressman, reinforced by his upbringing and his education. This husband, father of three daughters, and grandfather of eight grandchildren hopes he has instilled these values in his own family. And while he claims he has never ventured far from TMC’s campus, Dressman’s impact on the community can be felt far and wide. “I think the community looks to us to do this,” he states matter-of-factly. “It’s our duty and a responsibility.”
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