After law school, I clerked for a Judge in the Appellate Division in New Jersey, which was an amazing experience that allowed me to work on civil, criminal and administrative agency appeals. I then worked for a defense firm for about two years, but always questioned the work I was doing because I never felt like I was helping other people, something I have always wanted to do.
Now, for the past eight years, I have had the great privilege and honor of representing individual plaintiffs in personal injury and other lawsuits. Many of the cases I work on involve someone who ultimately dies, be it from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in the workplace, neglect and abuse in a nursing home entrusted with one’s care, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the signature latent disease of football. After someone’s death, my clients are typically the surviving spouse and children of the person who died, and my role as their attorney involves listening and amateur grief counseling as much as it involves zealously advocating on their behalf and helping them navigate their way through the often complicated legal system.
Sometimes, when I share with people the specific type of work I do, they remark with comments, such as, “How can you do that? It must be so sad and depressing.” And believe me, it often is. That being said, I truly enjoy the work I do, and feel as if this is my calling in life.
The reason for that is personal.
When I was 16, my Dad died from congestive heart failure. At the time he was diagnosed, his doctors told us he may only live another 10 to 15 years, which was very difficult for me to comprehend, imagining that he may never walk me down the aisle or one day enjoy spending time with his future grandchildren. Unfortunately, he very rapidly declined and passed away only a few months after he was first diagnosed. At that time, my Mom was only 42 years old and she was left alone to raise 3 daughters, ages 16, 13 and 8. As an adult, much closer in age to what she was at the time, I do not know how my Mom did it, and I greatly admire her and respect her for it.
I know what I and my family went through after my Dad’s death, and the sadness and grief we still experience today, almost 21 years later. By doing the work I do at Locks Law Firm, I really feel as if I am somehow helping my Mom, my younger sisters and myself in a way we were never able to be helped after my Dad died. The reason for that is that my Dad died of natural causes, and we had no one to blame. I cannot imagine the range of emotions my clients must experience knowing that their spouse, parent or other loved one died, not due to natural causes, but because of someone else’s wrongdoing. What’s worse, that “someone else” is oftentimes a multi-billion dollar corporation that had knowledge of the hazards of exposure to toxic chemicals they manufactured and sold or historical knowledge that repetitive blows to the head during football games and practices could cause latent and lethal brain disease, but they withheld that information from the public in favor of their own corporate greed.
I believe that everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life, and we should all be able to enjoy time with our loved ones for as long as possible. This is why I love my job and why I do the work that I do.