I am always amazed at how life leads you exactly where you are meant to be whether you like it or not. Seven years ago, I was working as an insurance defense attorney for a local firm. It had been very difficult to find a job right out of law school. I had gone into law school with the goal of being a prosecutor, and after getting down to the end of the final interview process in several prosecutor’s offices, I ended up not getting the job at any of them. When I was offered the job doing defense work in the area of civil litigation, while it was not what I thought I would be doing out of law school, I was beyond grateful to finally be employed. At the time, I figured that I would eventually get back to my original goal of being a prosecutor. So I threw myself into my new job determined to learn all I could, until the time came for me to move on.
I found insurance defense work to be very challenging. My client’s did not get to choose me for their attorney as I was hired by their insurance company. It was often very difficult to serve the needs and interests of the insurance company as well as protecting the needs and interests of my clients. I often felt frustrated by difficult adjusters who never wanted to have to pay money even on legitimate claims. Working under the billable hour made it difficult for me to be able to always have or devote enough time to working on cases in the way I thought they needed. I worked hard to do all I could for my clients, but often felt hamstrung by all the masters I had to serve.
But not everything about my first legal job was difficult. I loved the small firm I was working for. I was working with a great group of people and had mentors at the job that did an outstanding job teaching me and guiding me in how to be a good lawyer and still be a good person. They valued ethics and hard work, and treated the practice of law as a profession and not just a job. They passed those values on to me. I will forever be grateful to them for all I learned and experienced during the seven years I had the privilege of working with them all. They helped me learn how to actually practice law, which is not something they teach you in law school.
But when I became pregnant with my son Ethan, my small firm decided to merge with a big firm. I knew it was time to take a break and re-evaluate my career goals. My job required me to work very long hours, with little time off, and I knew that it would be difficult to continue working there and have the time and energy to be the kind of parent that I wanted to be. So I decided to take a year off and think about what job would be a better fit. It was a difficult decision to leave my mentors, and I really missed the people I had been working with, but knew it was the right decision for myself and my family.
Five years flew by and my son was suddenly in Kindergarten. I am beyond grateful that I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with my son for those five years. The time I had with him was well spent. But I knew it was time to start moving forward in other areas in my life. I felt a little lost as I was job hunting. Nothing I saw in the job postings was much different than the kind of work I had done before, and I was looking for something totally different.
Finally, one day I came across a posting for the Finney Law Office. They were looking for someone to write legal memoranda and articles for their office. I applied for the job thinking it would be something I could do to get the legal side of my brain working again. They had me write an article for them as my application. Boy was that a painful experience! But,,the good news is that apparently practicing law is like riding a bike, you never really forget. By the middle of the article, I felt like things were clicking again and was overjoyed when they ended up hiring me.
I wrote several articles for them over the course of the next few months. I picked up another temporary part-time job, and was still trying to figure out what direction I was going to head in career wise. Suddenly, out the of the blue I got a call from Diane with the Finney Law Office. Dan Finney was working on a series of cases arising out the Bridgeton Landfill fire, and they needed a contract attorney to help them with research and responding to the mountain of motions and paperwork that the big insurance defense firm on the other side was dumping on them. I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity, and jumped right into the work.
I loved it. Not only was it fascinating to learn the ins and outs of work on the Plaintiff’s side of a case, even better, I was doing work that allowed me to help real people and devote all my time and energy to my client without having to consider the needs of an insurance company. Finally, best of all, the Finney Law Office was another wonderful group of people to work with. They truly worked as a team to provide the best possible legal representation to each and every one of their clients. All of the attorney’s here really support and help each other in doing their jobs. This firm is also constantly working to obtain training for and integrate cutting edge legal techniques to serve their clients.
But most important to me is the greater good that this job allows me to do. It was a very easy decision to make when Dan Finney offered me a permanent position to work for the Finney Law Office. I am able to help our clients be compensated for wrongs that they suffer at the hands of people who are not doing the right thing. I get to educate insurance companies on why they cannot get away with denying valid claims. I get to help juries decide on what sort of values they want to enforce and what kind of behavior they want to prevent in our community.
This past week, one of the first cases I started working for was settled. Our legal team was able to get or client both what they wanted and deserved. There is no greater reward in the in the practice of law than a happy client who receives a fair outcome. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with this firm, for our clients, and in support of a safer community for everyone that lives in St. Louis. Finally, I have ended up exactly where I am meant to be.