Morning Mix


Remembering 9-11; the story of Tom Sinas

Posted at 7:30 AM, Sep 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 07:31:00-04

15 years ago, the world watched the Twin Towers fall. Everyone who saw the events of September 11, 2001, remembers what they were doing at that time or where they were.

Tom Sinas, a lawyer at Sinas Dramis law firm, is one of those people. While he is a Michigan native, Sinas lived in New York during the attacks. He said in a way, the event changed his life by steering him into the practice of law.

Sinas never had any pressure from his family to go into law. His father, who's now his business partner, didn't want to force Sinas into the family practice.

"He went out of his way to never pressure me or my brother to go to law school, to practice law, or to own the firm," Sinas explained. "He really just wanted us to make that decision too, he wanted us to make that decision on our own."

Today, Sinas now runs the Sinas Dramis firm in Grand Rapids with his brother. "We came here on our own and are that much better for it."

Sinas started his journey by studying music and economics at the University of Michigan. When he graduated in 2001, he moved to New York City in July. Little did he know that was just six weeks before the September 11 attacks.

Sinas said that anybody who lived through that experience, even if you weren't in New York, remembers where they were and what they were doing that day.

"I was at my office when it happened," he said. "I had to make the journey back at the end of that day along the commuter trains that were closed for most of the day. Later that night they let people come back to the city."

"I can remember vividly everything about that day," Sinas said. "I was coming back into the city and I remember seeing those huge smoke towers in lower Manhattan. I remember laying in my bed and feeling the wind blow, and you could smell whatever was burning in lower Manhattan."

Sinas mentioned that living through the attack itself wasn't the biggest impression left on him, but in the weeks afterward living in New York.

"I saw all these pictures of the signs of the missing, they were everywhere," Sinas said. "Every subway tunnel, every park, every city block. As you walked through town it was just a montage of missing people."

But Sinas wasn't scared, in fact, it actually made him more proud. He took some time off work to help the community in any way he could, like volunteering to make firefighters sandwiches while they worked through the tragedy.

"Everybody really banded together to try and make sense of what was happening and trying to get everyone together," Dramis said.

Sinas lived in New York for two and a half more years after the event, then decided to head west to Minneapolis for law school.

After law school he worked in a variety of jobs from being a trial lawyer, a white collar criminal prosecutor, and a financial lawyer.

Then in 2013, Sinas decided to move back to his home state of Michigan with his wife and two children. Now he works at his firm in Grand Rapids with his main focus on personal injury work.

"It's not a phrase I really like," Sinas explained, " but what it means is that we're representing people who've experienced the most tragic event of their life."

With his experience in New York 15 years ago, he couldn't be more proud than to help support the people and community right here in Grand Rapids.

"It's really cool to see the office grow from just me alone, to six people in three years," Sinas said. "I attribute that really because Grand Rapids is a really wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to work. We wouldn't of had the success we've had if it wasn't the warm reception we've gotten from everyone and the community."