Please click back to the first of the Legal Highlights to learn about the Legal Highlights process and the reason behind this feature which focuses on what is right and working well in the legal profession. Here are all the Legal Highlight interviews.
And now read on the see what this Legal Highlight has to say in response to the seven questions . . .
1) Think about your experience in the legal profession and of a specific incident or event that made you feel extremely satisfied or proud. Give a brief description of the incident or event. The reasons I felt satisfied or proud were . . .
Once I encountered an elderly woman who approached me and told me she had served on a jury in a case that I had prosecuted. She thanked me for my work, and told me that it meant a great deal to her to have served on that jury. I then realized that my work was having an impact in all sorts of ways that I didn't anticipate. I was proud to have shown her the practice of law in a way that left her with a sense of satisfaction in the way justice was conducted.
2) I attended law school because . . .
My undergraduate degree was in philosophy. Not until my senior year did I seriously think about what to do next! The Peace Corps sounded attractive in an abstract kind of way. But I looked at a few of the brochures, and it seemed to be mostly agricultural work, which did not interest me at all. Graduate school in philosophy would only have led to an academic career, which at that time also seemed very unappealing. Hence: Law School!
3) I would recommend the practice of law because . . .
For the most part, lawyers and judges are interesting people. Now that I am no longer actively practicing law, I find that I miss the interaction with those colleagues. One of the parts of my work as a forensic psychologist that I enjoy the most is going to trial, because there I get to be back in the courtroom, interacting with lawyers and judges.
4) My colleagues who practice law appreciate doing so because . . .
The legal colleagues I admire are all working hard in areas in which they can really make a difference. For example, Sean O'Brien here in Kansas City is a death penalty litigator who worked on getting a man released from death row using an "impossible" legal argument of "actual innocence."
5) The benefits lawyers contribute to society are . . .
The crucial role of providing a mechanism for the non-violent resolution of disputes.
6) The factors that make up the heart and the soul of law are . . .
Legal training and practice require us to see deeply into all kinds of critical social issues. We have to be able to understand and articulate all sides of an issue, even when we cannot appreciate or admire some of those "sides." The best of us also learn not to take it personally when others disagree with us, and not to engage in personal attacks in response to disagreement. We tend to see people when they are undergoing great stress, loss, devastation, and this gives us an understanding of humanity that few other professions provide.
7) Think of a lawyer you consider a role model. The traits or values I respect or admire about him or her are . . .
Tenacity; compassion for those who are despised by many in society; integrity; courtesy. When I took the oath as a member of the Missouri Bar, part of our oath included a promise to "abstain from all offensive personality." Sometime later, I don't know when, that part of the oath was removed. I don't see that as a good thing!