Mosaic Development Partners

Managing Life’s Challenges

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis tells the story of how she was disbarred from practicing law, how she came back, and the lessons she learned from these unfortunate circumstances.

Managing Life’s Challenges

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space." 
— Johnny Cash 

In 2002, I was disbarred from the practice of law. At the time, I managed a small plaintiff’s law practice in Philadelphia. In 2001, my license was temporarily suspended due to complaints by some of my clients of delayed payments on their claims. During that time, I was going through a volatile divorce which included a protection from abuse order from my former spouse, while simultaneously raising my 5 year old daughter by myself. Due to my personal difficulties, I lost sight of my professional responsibilities, including oversight of the office, record keeping and response time to clients. All clients were ultimately paid, however, the licensing governing body still thought the matter warranted review. Given my pending divorce and focus on the well-being of my child, I was not mentally or financially prepared to deal with a formal investigation, so I voluntarily accepted disbarment. 

In hindsight, that may have not been the wisest professional decision, but I was more concerned with trying to emotionally stabilize my daughter’s and my life. I immediately sought employment and was hired by the Goldenberg Group, a regional real estate development firm. I successfully established a real estate development career and in my eight year tenure there, I advanced from Assistant Development Director to Senior Vice President of Development. My work record at The Goldenberg Group includes several important successful projects. I am most thankful for the opportunity at that time to reestablish myself professionally and gain stability personally. 

In 2007, I remarried, to an amazing man who supports my life in a healthy and understanding way. In 2008, I founded Mosaic Development Partners, LLC with my partner, Gregory Reaves, and have been actively developing real estate development since. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, but this has also been a rewarding journey. Through the past several years, our work with Mosaic as real estate developers focuses on re-building underserved communities and has continued to gain the respect of government agencies, politicians, community organizations and project partners. Our track record of hiring minority and women owned companies in this industry is unparalleled. 

This personal story, while difficult to share, is an important part of my life journey. I decided to put this statement on our company website because some individuals have attempted to use my story and personal information to discredit our company and distort our professional and personal history of commitment and accomplishment. Like countless others who overcome life’s difficulties, I have successfully rebuilt my life and have achieved professional and personal success. As a company, we at Mosaic work very hard every day to create developments that add value to the communities we serve, and to date, we believe we have achieved this goal. 

— Leslie Smallwood-Lewis