Passion and Purpose: Interviews with Legal and Health Professionals (Part Five)

12/15/2017 12:10 am ET

It is always interesting to hear stories of professionals in the fields of law and medicine, particularly why they chose their careers. It is even more interesting to hear them discuss what motivates them to go to work every day and what they love the most about their jobs. Doctors and lawyers also tend to have very interesting stories about clients and patients they have served during the course of their career.

For example, one of the doctors we interviewed recalls a time he was working at a hospital and had a patient who came in unresponsive with a bleed in his brain. He successfully treated the man back to recovery. Several months later, that same man returned to the hospital to visit someone else. The man recognized the doctor, ran up to him and said, “You saved my life, I remember you, thank you so much!” The man explained to the doctor that he couldn’t have survived without the hospital’s treatment.

Stories like this are the stories you never hear. These are the types of experiences that keep our legal and medical professionals motivated to serve us in times of need.

Here is Part Five of the interviews we did with doctors and lawyers across the United States. Here is Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.

21) David G. Omer, Attorney at Felton Banks PLLC

What made you decide to become an attorney?

I decided to become an attorney because I wanted to pursue a challenging and engaging career with lots of opportunities to help people in a direct and tangible way.

How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing since October of 2015.

What do you love the most about being an attorney?

How much time do you have? Being an attorney means that your job involves everything from problem-solving to sales to customer service. It’s a challenge every day, you get to meet and work with a lot of interesting people, and there’s simply no substitute for the feeling you get when you help a client out of what’s often the biggest pickle he or she has ever been in.

Describe a memorable story of a client. What was so memorable about this client?

One of my very first cases involved an elderly African-American woman who was asleep in her home when an unknown perp spray-painted a racial slur on her driveway, doused her car in gasoline, and set it on fire. She woke up and ran outside to try to put the fire out, but in the process she caught on fire and ended up suffering third-degree burns over about sixty percent of her body. Fortunately she survived, but she was left with several hundred thousand dollars in medical bills. Despite my best efforts, there was simply no source of funds that we were able to recover from for her.

This case sticks with me to this day. It’s a reminder that our legal system isn’t perfect; people like my client really do fall through the proverbial cracks, and it follows that we attorneys have to pick up the slack by representing our clients as zealously as possible.

22) Allen Tittle, Attorney at Tittle & Perlmuter

What made you decide to become an attorney?

I knew I wanted to become an attorney in eighth grade. In my social studies class, my teacher carried out a mock trial, where I was chosen as the attorney. The first case we did was a case by the name of Plessy vs. Ferguson, which is a famous civil rights case. The teacher unwisely put me on the side of what was supposed to be the losing side. I was able to convince the class, because of the role I was playing, that the separate but equal doctrine (meaning races of people should be separated) should still be in play today. Needless to say, the teacher wasn’t too happy that’s how the “jury” of the class decided.

The second time around, we did another famous civil rights case by the name of Brown vs. The Board of Education, which was the case that, in actual history, reversed the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. I then was able to convince the class to change course, and we shouldn’t have the separate but equal doctrine. At that point I realized that being an attorney, specifically a trial lawyer, held a great responsibility and power. You have the ability to fight for certain positions or people and really make a real difference in the world. I became a lawyer with an idealistic thought that I could make a real difference in people’s lives. I’m happy to say that everyday I come to work, I’m able to do that because of the law that I practice.

How long have you been practicing?

I’ve been practicing since 2010. I opened my own law firm, Tittle & Perlmuter, in 2015. The firm focuses on medical malpractice (such as brain and spinal cord injuries), nursing home abuse, and wage & hour claims.

What do you love most about being an attorney?

What I love the most about being an attorney is that, again, I get to help people and in a real way. For example, I have a case right now where a woman was hit by a semi-truck and suffered a brain injury. She’s no longer able to work. She’s in her forties and has a child. I’m able to fight for her and hopefully be able to get some type of compensation that will allow her life to go on despite this serious crash and this serious injury. That’s important. Otherwise her and her family may be homeless, in the poor house, without food. Not many people can say that in what they do for a living.

Describe a memorable story of a client? What was so memorable about this client?

The most memorable story of a client that I have, is really the first client that I had when I started my law firm, by the name of Peggy. Peggy lost her daughter as a result of medical malpractice. Peggy came to me in shambles. This was her only daughter; this was the center of her life. We were able to prosecute her claim and show that the doctor was negligent and obtain a sizable result for Peggy. And while that didn’t bring her daughter back, it gave her closure. She knew that she did everything in her power, not only to fight for her daughter while she was alive, but also after she passed.

23) Victoria Stazio, Attorney at Fennemore Craig

What made you decide to be an attorney?

A friend of mine went through an administrative hearing during college. She was not allowed to have an attorney defend her interests, and a school official acted as an investigator and a prosecutor, rather than a neutral party. For a myriad of reasons, the investigation conducted by the school was incomplete and, in my opinion, biased. I was very surprised and disappointed about the way the proceedings unfolded. I had never thought about being an attorney prior to that, but the experience lit a fire inside of me and I ended up taking pre-law classes thereafter.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing for 11 years. I first became a public defender and then prosecuted for several years. I have been practicing as a civil litigator for approximately four years.

What do you love most about being an attorney?

I have been a litigator all my career. At first, in criminal law and now in civil litigation. There is never a dull moment. My cases never present the same set of facts or issues, and I am constantly kept on my toes. Every case is a new puzzle to solve.

Describe a memorable story of a client? What was so memorable about this client?

I prosecuted a child abuse case wherein the victim was an eight year old girl. While she was not a client, per se, as I represented the state, she was the named victim in the case. It was a rather difficult case factually, as time had passed since the case had been investigated and, like many of these abuse cases, my main witness was a child. As we were about to walk into the courthouse on the first day of trial, the little girl turned to me and whispered, “No matter what happens, Victoria, thank you.” It was an incredibly profound statement from such a young child, and meant quite a lot to me, especially at that particular moment.

24) Marc Kaplan, Attorney at Kaplan Law

What made you decide to become an attorney?

I become a trial attorney because I saw so many instances of people being mistreated, taken advantage of, being voiceless and powerless. While it may sound naïve, and perhaps unbelievable to the general public, I viewed and still view lawyers as society’s answer to protecting individuals from abuse of power and the inequities in our society.

How long have you been practicing?

33 years.

What do you love the most about being an attorney?

Being able to help people who are unable to help themselves, and improving the legal system to reflect societal values and concepts of justice.

Describe a memorable story of a client? What was so memorable about this client?

There are many memorable people I have been privileged to represent. One client’s heart was so diseased that he was going to die. At that time heart transplants were not common but were generally successful. My client was lucky enough that a donor heart was available and was a match for him, but the insurance company refused to pay for the procedure claiming it was experimental. I was able to convince a jury that the procedure was not experimental, even if not commonly performed at that time, and as a result he received the transplant, the hospital and doctors were paid for their life saving care, and my client was able to live much longer enjoying his life and his family.

25) Brad Blommer, Attorney at Green Light Law Group, LLC

What made you decide to become an attorney?

My father was a lawyer which had a big influence on me wanting to be one also. I grew up in the Washington DC area and a lot of my friends fathers or mothers were lawyers, which also played a part I'm sure.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been in private practice since 1998, although for a few years I ran a real estate investment company.

What do you love the most about being an attorney?

The thing I love most about being a lawyer is being able to solve people's problems and make a difference in their lives.

Describe a memorable story of a client? What was so memorable about this client?

As a cannabis lawyer in Oregon, my memorable clients are the ones who start up a new cannabis business from the ground up. Seeing them grow (no pun intended) and become successful in this new industry is extremely gratifying.

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