With a desire to showcase positive stories, we asked our policyholders a few simple questions.
Why did you become an attorney? What do you most treasure about your career as an attorney?
Your proudest moment or accomplishment as an attorney?
“The practice of law gave me a chance to use my mind to help the members of my community and that is what continues to motivate me.”
For Kathleen Allmon Stoneman, the calling to be an attorney started at a young age as she witnessed her father’s career as an attorney and a Judge. Kathleen saw the dedication he gave to his practice and his clients, and was inspired by his pursuit of justice. Her father and his law school friends became role models for Kathleen and ultimately encouraged her to attend law school. Her parents also believed she had an opportunity to succeed as a woman in the practice of law when there were far fewer female attorneys than there are now.
Kathleen’s career as an attorney has been extremely fulfilling, as she’s been able to work with multiple generations of the same families. By helping her clients during difficult times and celebrating with them through good times, she has earned the trust of each client she represents. Kathleen’s legal practice has also given her the opportunity to work with other attorneys from around Ohio who have helped her become a better lawyer and person.
Kathleen’s daughter has also gone on to become an attorney to keep the family profession going and Kathleen couldn’t be more proud.
“I became an attorney to help people.”
For Bruce Hutton, the reason he became an attorney was for the simple reason of being able to help people. And during his 43-year career, he has done just that.
Bruce started his career helping airmen in the Air Force, either with legal assistance or by defending them because of allegations of violations of the UCMJ. Throughout his career, his proudest accomplishment was defending a Technical Sergeant in the Air Force not once, but three times against claims filed by a commander who had a vendetta towards him. The gentleman Bruce defended credits him with his ability to stay in the Air Force until retirement.
Throughout his career, Bruce has been a part of a law firm and eventually started his own solo practice but the one thing that has never changed is his desire to help others.
When considering his next career move upon release from active duty in the Navy, family friends encouraged William Kaufman to go to law school.
William proceeded to attend Chase Law School at night while maintaining a career as an insurance claimsman during the day. That decision turned out to be the right move as William was then prepared to immediately begin a career of insurance defense, and then to transition to mediation, where he has treasured using his career to help people who have problems they are unable to solve for themselves. William’s proudest moment in his career is his term as a Judge as well as his time as Governor of the OSBA. William is another example of some who took an unconventional path to becoming an attorney and has used his career to positively impact his community.
For Dorothy Williams, her decision to become an attorney came later in life when she was looking for a career she could do until she was ready to retire.
Throughout her time as an attorney, Dorothy has helped parents become more effective, children to be safe and addicts to seek treatment. Her proudest moment throughout her career was when one of her clients was released by a foreign court onto the street rather than into a treatment facility, but then chose to seek help from a treatment facility instead of turning back to drugs when times were hard. Dorothy’s client has since graduated from the program, pleaded into diversion and is on target to get her child back. It’s moments like this that are the most fulfilling for attorneys like Dorothy.
When asked if she would do anything different throughout her career as an attorney, Dorothy says she would’ve gone to law school sooner.
“Lawyers are among the few people who can assure justice in the justice system.”
For Arthur Shantz, becoming an attorney started as a way to be qualified for a career in politics, but it became about so much more than that.
Arthur’s career as an attorney provided him the opportunity to take his family out of Vietnam. He’s also been able to help immigrants and refugees get citizenship. Arthur uses his expertise as an attorney to serve others and secures justice for those who need it the most. He is a prime example of the work attorneys are able to do to help ensure justice is attainable for anyone.
The road to becoming an attorney looks different for everyone.
For some people, the call to become an attorney comes later in life. This is the case for Bill Richards, who started his career as a chemical engineer and decided to go to law school at the age of 51 in search of more stability and long-term success. The law also provided greater flexibility and the opportunity to practice as long as he was able and to even work part time. Bill’s career as an attorney has been defined by creating trusting client relationships. One of his proudest moments was when he was able to obtain a patent for an independent inventor. He still cherishes the memory of how her eyes lit up when he presented it to her.
“It was a drive that never let up.”
For Attorney Kendra Carpenter, her passion for law started in 8th grade when she beat “the” lawyer’s son in a mock jury trial – from that moment on, she knew she was going to be an attorney.
When considering what she would’ve done differently in her career, Kendra, as a first gen attorney, says doing a clerkship would have helped her get ingrained more quickly within the legal community, as well as seeking more involvement and leadership roles early on within the local bar associations.
Overall, Kendra has enjoyed her work as an attorney, especially the ability to change people’s lives. It’s not the awards and the accolades that have made her career as an attorney fulfilling, instead it’s that one “thank you” from a client that lets her know she made a difference in someone’s life.
As a family law attorney, Kendra says, “it can be challenging. You have a client who is going through the worst time of their life and isn’t always at their best. But I enjoy getting to know my client, working through their problems and finding that one solution that helps them see that pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel so they know they are going to be okay.”
“I value the fact that I am in a position to represent the interests of people who may not otherwise have a voice.”
For Joan Burda, the calling to become an attorney started at age 12 when she realized she could actually get paid to argue with people. Her choice was further solidified at age 16 when she spent a summer as a CYO summer camp counselor in Cleveland. During that time she saw children having to resort to desperate measures to find food; because it was the end of the month and they didn’t have any food in their houses. From that point forward, Joan knew she needed to work to ensure the richest country in the world did not let its children go hungry.
One of Joan’s proudest accomplishments in her career is serving as a volunteer lawyer with Hospice of the Western Reserve in Greater Cleveland. She says nothing compares to the feeling of knowing she is able to provide solace to those people who are dying by answering their questions, allaying fears and helping them take the last steps to protect their families.
Joan has found her strength as an attorney and has used her position of power to help those who may not have the resources they need. Joan is a wonderful example of how attorney’s make the world a better place.
When one door closes, another door opens.
For Geoffrey Webster, after his dream of attending the United States Air Force Academy was dashed due to a failed entrance eye exam, he chose instead to study law. Although being a lawyer wasn’t what he originally had planned for himself, it turned into a great career. One of the most fulfilling aspects for Geoffrey is the realization that people search for and value the objective advice he provides.
When reflecting back on his proudest moment as an attorney, Geoffrey recalls the time when the Supreme Court of Ohio held a reception to open the new Front Street building. While standing in line to greet the Justices, Chief Justice Moyer left his place in line to come over, pull Geoffrey out of line, and said with his arm around his shoulder “This man makes me proud to be a lawyer.” To this day, Geoffrey feels humbled that Chief Justice Moyer honored him in that way.
“I did it my way.”
For Julianne Pistone Pertz, the journey to becoming an attorney wasn’t an easy one. Being the only one of her siblings to complete four years of college, Julianne graduated from Kenyon with a degree in political science and moved to DC to find work. Upon realizing she wouldn’t be given the same opportunities as her male classmates, Julianne moved back home to Cleveland to help with the family restaurant. After reassessing her career goals, a friend convinced Julianne to go to law school – something that up until that point she didn’t consider to be an option for women.
Throughout her 40 year career as an attorney, Julianne has used her natural intellectual and emotional gifts to advocate for others. As both a corporate defense and plaintiff trial lawyer, she treated all clients with the same respect. When it came time to decide her next move in her career and in her home life, Julianne paved her own path and did it her way. She became a sole practitioner working part-time so she could work around her schedule of homeschooling her three children and helping with the family farm. The most liberating part of working for herself was the ability to choose who she would represent. “I can say I never took a case I did not believe in,” Julianne says.
After reflecting back on her career, Julianne believes that the majority of her time was spent providing legal services to those who could not afford an attorney, as she tried to help people who had been wronged, particularly in medical negligence and employment discrimination. Although her career path was different than most attorneys, Julianne wouldn’t change a thing.
“I have made my practice about doing my best to improve other’s situations in life.”
For Peter Scranton, the desire to be a lawyer stemmed from seeing his mother as a Civil Rights lawyer. Like her, he wanted to help others and over his professional life as an attorney he has been fortunate to do just that. Throughout his career, Peter has worked on cases for victims, defendants, evictions and domestic. His entire practice has been focused on helping the people that needed it the most.
Through jury victories and setbacks alike, Peter takes pride in his work. “Any small improvement I can make in someone’s life are the moments I cherish most,” Peter says.
There are many reasons someone would consider becoming an attorney, for Dick Brubaker, he was seeking out a career that would combine critical thinking with the ability to help others – and throughout his extensive career, that’s exactly what he has done.
One of Dick’s proudest moments as an attorney was his work representing the estate administration of a deceased client who was an expat residing in Fiesole, Italy. This work involved multiple trips and extended stays in Italy in order to orchestrate the disposition of a villa and hundreds of pieces of artwork located there. While in Italy, Dick was fortunate to have the help of numerous Italian and Swiss professionals and laypersons to help him in this work and whose advice and friendship were priceless.
Dick’s experience in Italy showed just how mobile and unique the law profession can be. When asked if he would do anything differently throughout his career as an attorney, there’s nothing that he would change. “I am a happy camper,” Dick says.
“There are very few professions that can positively impact daily lives and influence society more than the legal profession. That is why I became a lawyer.”
Former OSBA President, Joseph T. Svete, became an attorney solely for the reason to help and assist others. He derives satisfaction knowing that he is able to provide advice and legal services to successfully defend or assert a client’s cause.
While Joe enjoys the day-to-day of assisting clients and positively influencing society, his proudest accomplishment as an attorney was serving as the President of the OSBA. The experience provided him with a greater awareness of the importance of the profession and the dedication of attorneys providing legal needs to their clients.
We are pleased, and will continue to shine a light upon attorneys like Joseph T. Svete, who serve their community and the state of Ohio. Thank you for your dedication, Joe!