I enrolled in this master’s degree program thinking the market was going to readjust, and I would subsequently flourish in real estate sales and development,” he says. “I really did enjoy it, but during that time I met a man by the name of Gary Birnbaum, who I believe to be one of the finest lawyers in Phoenix. He had an impressive litigation and real estate background and was one of the brightest professors instructing the master’s program.”
During this transitional period, Preston began dating and married his wife, Brittany. Their relationship assisted Preston in making the law a career choice. Preston began working on various projects with his father-in-law, whom he credits with having the greatest impact on his career (with the exception, of course, of his own parents).
His father-in-law possessed traits that Preston admired and wished to emulate. “We were staying with Brittany’s parents, so I was able to get to know them quickly, especially her dad,” Preston says. “That laid the foundation for what, beyond my parents, is easily the best relationship I’ve ever experienced.”
Brittany was one of nine children. Not only are four of her brothers attorneys, the fifth just graduated from ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Her oldest brother has a career in government and served as chief of staff for the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Senate. He was also a co-chief of staff for Governor Ducey. With this family’s track record, Preston knew he could be confident in the advice he received: “My father-in-law encouraged me to finally follow my heart and go into the law. His knowledge of the law and business acumen was amazing, so I had an excellent mentor through my law school years.”
Ironically, Preston never practiced real estate law for which he had an incredible educational background. During law school, he interned at Baker and MacKenzie, a large international law firm with 77 offices in virtually every country in the world.
“Although Baker and MacKenzie is one of the largest law firms in the world, and the experience was invaluable, I began clerking for the principal attorney at Warnock MacKinlay Law. That is where I represented victims of various types of accidents. My father-in-law agreed with my assessment that this law best suited my personality. I accepted the full-time offer as an attorney. By the time I graduated from law school, the position was waiting for me.
“I’m a very goal-oriented person and I felt that at this firm the sky’s the limit,” he adds. “I was able to take advantage of that opportunity and when the owners decided to retire, I was approached about purchasing the firm because of the success I had enjoyed as a young attorney, including numerous resolutions in excess of $1 million.”