25 years ago today, I was officially sworn in as an attorney. At the time, I was told that the practice of law is not a job, it is a profession. I took that to heart and have tried to live up to that every day.
A few thoughts:
First of all, I love being a trial attorney and being able to get good results for my clients. Two weeks ago, I won a difficult case and afterwards, in the hallway, I received a big hug from my client. The day before, I won a suspension hearing for another client, a fellow attorney. Representing an attorney is a lot of added pressure but that also means extra satisfaction if you win. You don’t get these types of thrills writing a well-designed estate plan.
Still, I get as much if not more fulfillment from my other professional duties and volunteer work. This week I judged a collegiate moot court competition at Loyola (Last month, I judged a similar competition at the University of Chicago). I am always amazed at the skill and ability of these young advocates. I also trained 50 new investigators who have volunteered with the Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Committee. Currently, I am co-chair of its Investigation Division. So far this year we have evaluated approximately 200 judicial candidates or judges seeking retention, and we are about to begin work on the rest of the field who did not seek early Cook County Democratic Party slating. Each year, members of our committee volunteer thousands of hours to investigate candidates in order to provide the voters with fair, unbiased and thorough ratings. I am proud to say that the CBA ratings are widely considered to be the paragon of judicial ratings.
Finally, being an attorney means being part of a community. This week, one attorney took me out to lunch to “pick my brain” about how to handle a Motion to Suppress. Another attorney, who used to be a fierce adversary when he was a State’s Attorney, called me up for advice about Daley Center procedures and I ended up stepping up for him in court.
This is not one-sided. I ask for, and get, help and advice too. Last week, an attorney in Springfield helped me with a client who had a Secretary of State issue, and two Chicago attorneys helped me navigate a personal injury settlement that became complicated when my client suddenly passed away, post-settlement, without having signed a release.
So in summary, I would say to young attorneys: be a zealous advocate, but also civil and cordial, and be active in our legal community. You will find it rewarding.