Practitioner Interview paper
Person interviewed: Mr. Ellen Cartwright
Job title and job description: Head lawyer, Dolomite and Touche
Date of interview: 6 December 2012
Time of interview: 7:30am
Location of interview: Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
Question: Before we go into the serious questions, what are the educational requirements for a lawyer?
Answer: Lawyers are required to have a four-year undergraduate degree from an acknowledged college or university. They also require going through a minimum of three years in law school before they can be certified as being ready to practice law. Lastly, there is the bar examination that depends on the state in which a lawyer intends to practice.
Question: What are some of the major character traits of an excellent lawyer?
Answer: Lawyers must be capable of working many hours with no supervision and handle intricate documentation and text. Simultaneously, their interpersonal abilities must be exceptional to allow for easy communication in the workplace and courtroom. Lawyers combine their systematic expertise and their character into their work
Question: The law profession has been described as being a cutthroat, aggressive and slanderous profession. Why is this so?
Answer: Our profession involves dealing with many different types of people. Some of our clients are criminals while others are normal people who need our services. The deals that are made between lawyers and clients are what make the profession have a bad name. However, it also suffices to mention that the media has played a big role in shaping peoples’ perspective.
Question: From your answer, it seems that you acknowledge the fact that law enjoys its fair share of malpractice and unlawfulness. Could you mention some of these malpractices?
Answer: First, malpractice is a broad term that is considered a type of negligence that implies that the lawyer lacked the ability to follow the laid down instructions and perpetrated a breach of duty that caused harm to the plaintiff.
Question: You have mentioned bribery as a major malpractice among lawyers. How does bribery appear in the justice system?
Answer: Bribery appears at various levels and has different ramifications. At the lower levels, lawyers receive bribes to push for certain cases to be tried before others. While this is not necessarily prohibited, it causes a backlog of some cases while others are cleared quickly. Court officials at the higher levels also take bribes to change the witness notes or even block a witness from testifying. This behavior is illegal and may result in the lawyer being disbarred and being awarded other punishment such as jail time. The judges also take bribes to determine the outcome of certain major trials.
Question: It seems the bribery issue is a big part of your problems. You mentioned ethics as another issue that lawyers face in their practice. Please expound on your comment.
Answer: Within the profession of law, there exists a thin line between right and wrong. When a lawyer practices law, there are many instances when they encounter situations that may require them to do the wrong thing in order to rectify a situation. An example surfaces in the occasion where a lawyer intentionally argues for the awarding of the hanging of a suspected murderer during trial. While killing a fellow human being might be seen as being inhuman and wrong, the lawyer needs to rectify the death of one person by sending the perpetrator to suffer a similar fate. In such situations, fellow lawyers can argue for long periods but come up with no better way to compensate the bereaved.
Ethics comes up as a safety measure that regulates the behavior or actions of lawyers in their practice. Lawyers’ ethics are values and morals that, along with behavior rules and common law, control a lawyer’s behavior. Naturally, lawyers are guided by their conscience but as it has been discovered, different people have different types of reasoning and cannot therefore be trusted to make rational decisions. Criminal lawyers are particularly subjected to ethics because they are at the heart of manipulating the court to see whether their client is innocent or guilty. Lawyers’ ethics come from a variety of sources but the most common include the Solicitors’ Rules, the Legal Profession Act and other intrinsic controls such as personal values.
Question: The next elements that I need clarification are the issues that arise in the practice of law. From the background you gave me, it is inevitable that the profession can miss complications and problems.
Answer: Thank you for pointing out those problems. The biggest problem that a lawyer can experience is the denial of a license to practice law. As mentioned earlier, before a lawyer can be acknowledged as competent to practice law, he / she must be issued with a license. Some lawyers have problems with either passing the bar examination or other administrative issue that delay the issuing of certificates and licenses. Such lawyers may be qualified but cannot practice law. Practicing law also takes a toll on the individual because of the difficult conditions such as long hours that drive most lawyers to drug and substance abuse. The environmental stress also contributes toward the stress. The profession demands that lawyers be highly superior human beings that can produce excellent results even under pressure. These expectations pressure lawyers into perfectionism, erosion of values and emotional drainage.
Question: Law is important in conflict resolution. Are there any other ways of conflict resolution besides judicial means? If so, what role do lawyers play in implementing such types of solutions?
Answer: Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has been an option for the judicial system for many years. This is a process where the court recommends non-judicial ways of solving disputes. Mediation is the most common form of ADR that has been recommended by many judges before the court can intervene and involves reconciling the two parties to end the dispute. The other major forms of ADR include negotiation where the two parties seek compromise positions that solve both their interests. Collaborative law and arbitration methods are also sometimes used. However, the significant part of ADR is that it eliminates the third party that is usually the court.
Question: This second part of the interview is concerned with your personal experiences as a lawyer for five years. Would you mind describing to us one or two encounters with legal issues within your professional that are memorable?
Answer: Of course. There were many such instances when I started practicing law in my first year. There was a client that I took who had suffered injury at the workplace and had sued her employee for injuries and damages. As usual, I did my research into the workplace accident and collected all the necessary information that would be necessary to build a strong case. What I had not foreseen was that corporate cases often involved a lot of money in compensation and that the accused company had taken the necessary measures to ensure that his lawyers would file for the dismissal of the case arguing that the injured employee was incompetent (Tamanaha 46).
On the day of the trial, when all parties had assembled in court, my client was particularly stressed by the whole trial process and I managed to reassure her that we had a strong case and it was inevitable that we would lose. I even added that after two hours she would be enjoying the compensation money that her former employer would have no choice but to pay her. As the trial wore on, I got more confident that we would win the case. However, when the defendants’ lawyer conjured the claim to dismiss the case based on the former employees’ incompetence, things took a turn for the worse and after a while, my client was on the receiving end as each claim that we had was rejected by the judge. In the end, my client did not receive the compensation that was very unfair considering she was injured in the plant accident due to negligence (Sumner 18).
In another compensation case, a man hurt himself while working on steel. His employee agreed to cover for his medical expenses but told the employee to write down the cause of accident as a sporting fall. The employee did so and later, he realized that his employee stopped covering his medical bills. When I took up his case, I sued his employee for employee negligence. In the court case, we lost because even though it was the employer’s job to take care of his employee’s medical demands, the employee himself did not indicate that the accident was work related and therefore released the employer from his responsibility. I felt that my client had been cheated into signing himself out of his medical rights.
Question: Thank you Mr. Mr. Ellen Cartwright for your time and cooperation
From our interview, it has become evident that law as a profession requires individuals with special skills such as indifference, analytical skills and endurance. The interview revealed new aspects of law that are not readily available by the public. However, what is evident is that for individuals who have the need to rectify the wrongs in society and make the world a just place, law offers the best options of satisfying that need.