THE AMERICAN DREAM - Struggle is worth it
Dorian LaSaine gets downtown early to his law office most days — 5:30 or 6 a.m.
LaSaine said he gets a lot of work done in those early hours before phones start ringing and people begin showing up in his waiting room.
Working such early hours might not sound like The American Dream to many people, but for LaSaine it is just the right fit.
LaSaine, 63, did not hesitate when asked for his definition of The American Dream.
“It just comes down to being able to engage in the kind of work that makes you want to live,” he said.
“You have to keep your mid going with something you enjoy that’s rewarding. Once you cross that you have to have enough money to live the lifestyle you want.”
LaSaine said his definition of The American Dream was influenced heavily by his grandparents.
“My grandfather came to America to escape the Russian Revolution. That affected me,” LaSaine said.
“My dad was a laborer, brick-layer and glazer. Sometimes he’d get laid-off. It was tough in my house.”
There was lot of emphasis on responsibility and education in his home.
After his stint in the military — which included an injury during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War — LaSaine went to college on the G.I. Bill. He earned an MBA and developed an interest in corporate law.
He enrolled in law school and went three years before running out of money.
He went to work for a year, saved his money, and finished law school.
After graduation he had three job offers — a Chicago law firm, working for the state’s attorney of Will County or going to work for Mike Mihm, then Peoria County State’s Attorney.
He took the job with Mihm becoming an assistant state’s attorney working in the juvenile delinquency courtroom.
“It was interesting,” he said.
But, the lure of being on his own beckoned. A local lawyer offered him free office space in exchange for research work. It was 1978.
That satisfied LaSaine until 1987 when he took a job offer to become an administrative law judge in Manhattan.
“It was a great job, but not a great place to live,” LaSaine said.
“In 1991, I came back. I picked up where I left off.”
LaSaine smiled, when asked if he has achieved his definition of The American Dream.
“It’s a work in progress, but yes” he said.
“When you can pay your bills and put a little aside you are living The American Dream.”
LaSaine said he realized that when he began seeing some professional success by winning cases.
He said his definition of The American Dream has not changed as he has aged.
“I think it’s pretty much stayed the same. Professional recognition means a lot. But, it’s also been about doing for others,” LaSaine said.
Achieving the dream, he said, has involved sacrifices.
“Unfortunately I’ve had to work long hours to get where I am. I’m at the office at 5:30 a.m. Most mornings,” he said. “There’s been a certain amount of luck involved, too. It’s all about taking advantage of opportunities that arise and recognizing them as opportunities. Things always seem to work out.”