Well, maybe it started a little bit earlier…
The other day my mother pulled something out of the basement, framed it and put it on my desk.
While it wasn’t a box of old cookies (which I will get to in a moment) it was my political platform for running for student body president.
Like the Constitution, it set out a framework based on equality and justice for all.
I laugh at it now, because, in this day and age, what kind of equality and justice would I have needed to get my constituents in the third grade?
But, it turned out my mind was really directed – from a very young age – towards helping people combat unjust situations.
That doesn’t mean I started out with the practice of law right out of school though.
I mean, similar to lawyers, I was in the trenches helping people in need, but, I wasn’t in the courtrooms of justice just yet.
I first started out working in psychiatric hospitals, helping patients with their day-to-day.
I was fascinated by the mind and how it worked. I learned the unique stories of so many people and wanted to serve them more.
[I was also appalled at how patients were being treated in these facilities. So, naturally, I wanted to help.]
So, I pursued work as a social worker in order to counsel people through life challenges and then, almost immediately thereafter, went to law school so I could be a lawyer who fought for their legal rights.
I spent the better part of ten years grinding it out by helping the poor get justice while honing my craft as a skilled litigator in the trench warfare that is trial law.
Those many years of experience gave me the confidence that I could work in any courtroom, anywhere, and get 12 people, who I didn’t know, to like me and my client enough to give my clients much deserved justice.
Truthfully though, it wasn’t until I met an amazing young lady, who had a knack for baking cookies, that set me on the path of injury law.
I had decided it was time to move on from legal aid work after the grueling hours and low pay.
Like my law partner Mark, I wanted a better life for my young family and I wanted to be able to spend time with them knowing all the bills would be covered and my kids could see more of dad at home.
It didn’t take me long to find my footing working for a guy in a small practice who had this one client who injured herself at a grocery store after she opened a fridge, got shocked and injured her shoulder.
She was an interesting person – hardworking, and could no longer do the job she had before because of her new injury.
Interestingly, she had always wanted to start a bakery with her sister. That was her longtime dream.
When the insurance company didn’t settle early on for what we thought she should get, by the time they got to taking her deposition, she had started on this quest to pursue her dream. I’ll never forget the moment she asked me if she should bake cookies to bring to the meeting.
If you’ve never been in a deposition it is not generally a friendly environment, let alone a place where it is normal to bring cookies for everyone.
But, that was the type of person that she was.
The defense lawyers from the biggest defense firms in Vermont had not seen anything like it before, but that didn’t stop them from shoving their faces full of scrumptious, homemade cookies.
At that moment, I thought to myself, this is a heck of a lot of fun…
I get to help this awesome woman, who was kind enough to bake cookies for the very people trying to deny her justice, make good money for her and myself, all the while getting justice for someone who absolutely, without a question in my mind deserved it.
I thought, where do I sign up for this kind of work full time?
Fortunately, It wasn’t long before I hit my stride.
You know when you suddenly decide on something (maybe even something risky) and you go for it – it is like the universe aligns with your brave, new decision and strange things start happening that help you get to where you want to be.
It just so happened that when I decided that this was the path, Mark called.
I knew him from my earlier days, since we were both legal aid attorneys fighting for justice for the poor. There weren’t a lot of us so we kind of all knew each other.
Anyway, it turned out he needed some help with some injury cases. So he called me up when he got word of what I was now looking to do.
I haven’t looked back since.
Justice can take many forms. It can be working in the trenches ensuring low-income folks have a place to live tomorrow or the right to work safely.
But, as I have learned, it can also be helping hardworking people, just like you, who have been injured in car, bike or motorcycle accidents, get the medical treatment they deserve while fighting the insurance companies that want to deny them that basic right.
For me, justice now means getting to help injured people physically and emotionally recover in order for them to live fulfilling, pain-free and amazing lives.
And to think it all started with a third grade electoral run for president and a batch of the best homemade cookies on the planet!
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