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 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!