Who was your mentor?

Harley Riedel and Don Stichter

Published in 2011 Florida Super Lawyers — June 2011

A young Harley Riedel joined veteran Don Stichter’s Tampa firm on July 1, 1974. Three days later, in the quiet office closed for the July 4 holiday, they both snuck in to work—to each other’s surprise. Their shared ideals have lasted 37 years. Stichter, now 81, taught Riedel (at left) the value of professionalism, hard work and common sense. Riedel talks about practicing bankruptcy law with Stichter at Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Prosser.

You really don’t know very much coming out of law school. You learn by example—and [Don] was my example. My grandfather was a lawyer in the state of Iowa for 50 years and retired down here … and moved onto a street where there was a young lawyer named Don Stichter. Don had four children, and in this little cul-de-sac, they would charge my grandfather a 10-cent toll to pass by. My father unfortunately died when I was 16, and my grandfather … asked [Don] to handle the probate. Then I went to law school. I interviewed with a lot of the really fine bigger firms here and got job offers. Everyone else would go to a really nice restaurant. … Don would invite me over to his house and we’d sit in the beanbag chair—same house—and we could have a very informal chat. I decided to go with Don. We had a complete general practice—which you can’t do anymore, I don’t think, in very many parts of the country.

Don’s always been frugal. [His] first partner … bought something for Don to put on his desk one day that said “Interiors by Goodwill Industries.”

With four kids, he would always leave the office so he could have dinner with the kids, and in those days—’74, precomputer—you couldn’t really work at home. He would almost always come back at night, after the kids were in bed.

You know, I don’t think he sleeps.

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