Board Member Spotlight: Alex Wheeler

October 5, 2023

Meet Alex Wheeler a Lawyer at Parris Law firm and Penny Lane Centers Board Member.

Alex is a trial lawyer with a diverse practice, including Personal Injury and Wrongful Death, Insurance Bad Faith, and Class Action litigation. He also has a beautiful family consisting of his wife Maria of 10 years and 3 beautiful young daughters Aviana (6), Adelaide (3), and Waverly (2).  Between work and family, he is very busy!

Alex credits his success as a trial lawyer to his ability to put a few different disciplines together.  He’s good at public speaking and delivering oral presentations to audiences, albeit after a lot of practice and work he grudgingly admits!  One thing you would be surprised to know about Alex is that, even though he speaks for a living, his heart still speeds up and  gets a little nervous at the thought of public speaking.  To counter that  he prepares, prepares and then prepares some more to ensure a smooth delivery.  Alex is also good at distilling lots of information into an easily-digestible story/narrative and at cross examining someone firmly on common-sense issues, but without coming off too aggressive.  That also took a lot of practice!  

Alex shared about people that shaped his life.  Admittedly there are so many but two stick out.  First of all is his stepfather John who he met when he was 6 years old.  John has the combination of an energetic zest for life and the most focused work ethic.  He instilled in him from a very young age the value of hard work, professionalism and discipline.  He also was very involved in pro bono legal work throughout his career, which has shaped Alex's goals as a lawyer.  Secondly, law firm partner Rex, who opened up a new world of learning to him.  He taught him early in his career to study disciplines and areas that at first glance had nothing to do with the practice of law, but ended up giving him a huge edge.  Alex says that “Rex is a constant and daily learner about all kinds of different things.  He’ll be reading books on topics as diverse as Cosmology, Physics, and Cognitive Psychology and then fuse them together to get an new idea about how to best do a closing argument.  “Watching him do that really sparked a love of broad and disparate learning in me.”

Alex appreciates and is on the Board of Directors of Penny Lane Centers because of his big sister Lara Hoffman, who has worked at Penny Lane for decades. He says:

“She is one of the few people in my life who truly love their work.  As I see it, she’s acting out her calling every morning she shows up for work.  I’ve heard Lara rave about Penny Lane for as long as she’s worked there.”

So, it’s an absolute honor and privilege to be a part of an organization that is so important to his family, and of course to the countless people and families Penny Lane serves.  And, as an adoptive parent, Penny Lane’s mission is especially close to his heart.  

The best piece of advice that Alex received was from his grandfather who would always say, in his folksy voice, “make sure you have a little bit of fun every day.”  He absolutely loves that one and does his best to put it into practice.  And from books, one of his favorites is to watch out for usage of the passive voice – both in his writing and speaking and when listening to others.  That came from one of his favorite books “Mistakes Were Made (but not my me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.  It’s forced him to use the active voice in his speech and writing, which ends up making me more accountable and responsible.  It has trained him to listen attentively for when others insist on using the passive voice, which is often a big red flag about something.  It’s also his favorite thing to watch out for when he's cross examining a witness!  

Alex would like to inspire as many people as he can to love reading.  He says that his house is filled with books of all kinds and he is constantly gifting people his favorite reads.

“I believe that a love of reading is the gateway to a life of curiosity, creativity, entertainment, self-directed learning, self-reflection, and perhaps eventually, if we’re fortunate, some level of wisdom.”

Penny Lane Centers is honored to have Alex as one of our Board Members.

-Nydia Barakat, Penny Lane Centers