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Experienced attorneys share their greatest advice


What’s the single best piece of advice or information you have received, and what impact has it made on your life to this point?

After much deliberation, that’s the question we decided to ask in this year’s law school scholarship essay contest. We all feel that the answer to this question says a lot about a person. After all, many different people will advise you throughout your life, but only a handful will make a lasting impression. Which comments do you still remember, years later? Which sources did you value? And most importantly, what advice has been so impactful that it is still influencing your decisions today?

We decided if we were going to ask such a significant question, we should answer it ourselves. Here’s what our attorneys and staff had to say on the subject:

“The best advice I ever received as an attorney is to know your case.  It seems almost too simple, but really knowing your case goes directly to the heart of the attorney-client relationship.  If the attorney knows the case well, that means that he is prepared, knows his client, and understand the client’s goals with the representation.  By knowing the ins and outs of the case, the attorney shows the client that he takes their problems seriously and is working hard to achieve a positive outcome.  In my experience, clients understand that legal outcomes cannot be guaranteed; what they want is an attorney who is willing to fight for them.  Knowing your client’s case is the most important step in representing your client.”

—Attorney Neil D. Petkovic, Of Counsel

 “I like golf, but I don’t have any particular talent for it and often find my ball wide of the fairway, in a grove of trees or nestled in deep rough.  I was pondering such a predicament one Sunday afternoon and described to my  golfing companion  how I might reverse my fortunes with a perfect shot which would  lift the ball out of the tall grass, through a cluster of bushes, over the tree line and right onto the green. My companion shook his head and said, ‘Just get yourself out of trouble.’   Especially given my modest golfing skills, this struck me as good advice and I chunked the ball a few feet over to the fairway. It was no ‘Hail Mary,’ but it got me out of trouble. That was years ago, but the advice resonates with me: shortcuts can lead deeper into a thicket. It’s best to take your licks and straighten yourself out before pressing on.”

—Attorney John S. Chapman

 “I don’t know if I can reflect on any one piece of advice being transformative for me as a person or my decision to become an attorney.  It was more constant encouragement and a sense of pride that my parents always projected upon me that drove me to be my best and helped me become a successful lawyer.

I will say, however, one piece of advice has stuck with me since I was in law school.  I have always struggled a bit with organization and have worked on improving it throughout my career.  During my first law clerk internship, I forgot something that I was supposed to do and one of the mentor attorneys at my job told me, ‘A short pencil is better than a long memory.’  The point, of course, is that for the organizationally challenged (such as myself), it is better to take notes, make calendar appointments, and just generally write down everything that must be remembered, rather than relying on memory.  I still may not be the most organized attorney, but now I don’t forget any appointments, deadlines, or important notes.”

—Attorney Jason T. Albin

Never underestimate the power of interpersonal skills.  Whether it is with clients, opposing council, colleagues, or the courts, interpersonal skills will take you a long way, especially when logic has dropped off the table and emotion sets in. Strong interpersonal skills allow you to build relationships and trust.  The best people I have worked with in this field are ones who build solid relationships, are respectful, understand who they are working with and take the time to listen.”

—Office Manager Jennifer L. Cholley

What about you? Have you received a particular bit of advice that has influenced and stuck with you? We’d love to hear about it! If we like your answer, we just may give you $1,000 towards your law school tuition and expenses. Deadline is Nov. 15.

To find out the details of the scholarship and submit your application, please visit our website.

Chapman LLC Chapman LLC is a Cleveland-based fraud law firm serving clients across the US. Since 1998, our lawyers have helped hundreds of investors recover millions of dollars in savings invested in fraudulent investment schemes. To learn more about our firm and the work we do, please visit our website.