Like many, Joseph Messer’s start in the credit and collection industry happened almost by accident. But it’s no accident that he’s been able to build a great legal career from that small favor he did for a friend nearly three decades ago. Read on to learn more about Joseph and what it takes for him to become “super aggressive.”
Name: Joseph S. Messer
Company: Messer Strickler
Length of time at current company: Since its inception
Length of time in industry: 25 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
A college friend who’d taken over running a family collection agency called and asked me if I knew anything about the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act because they’d been sued and couldn’t find anyone to represent them. I wanted to help him out so I learned the law and took the case on. We won and the rest is history.
What is your career highlight so far?
Arguing the Ruth & Hahn v. Triumph Partnership case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals many years ago. This decision resulted in a change in the FDCPA case law which made it more fair for collectors.
When or how are you most productive?
Early in the morning. Once the phone starts ringing and the emails begin flooding in the big projects are hard to complete.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Anyone who has the “grit” required to run a successful collection business. I know how hard it is to be successful in collections and respect those who can accomplish that.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
Litigate and try cases to victory. I am super aggressive when appropriate and refuse to lose when my client is right.
What do you like most about this industry?
It’s constantly changing. Not only does the law change regularly, but so do collection techniques and the markets my clients serve. The industry is constantly evolving and is never boring.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
It would be great if the laws governing the industry (FDCPA, FCRA, TCPA, etc.) better allowed us to sue Plaintiff’s attorneys who prop up bogus lawsuits with illegitimate claims in an effort to enrich themselves through blackmail settlements.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I’d be a professional golfer. (I only wish.)
Describe a typical work day.
Workout early in the morning, an hour or so at my desk, then Court for a morning hearing, then a deposition, meeting and/or brief writing.
What is your guilty pleasure?
An occasional scotch and cigar after a round of golf.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Carefully prepare for depositions, hearings and trial. Proper preparation makes the difference between winning and losing a case.
What are you currently reading?
“Traction” by Gino Wickman. It’s a great book about how to develop a successful business.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I’m there for you if you’re facing a difficult legal situation. I’ve pretty much seen it all and love helping good people resolve legal problems.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
My clients. I’m always interested in their thoughts on subjects like these. Knowing how they think helps me better represent them.