Is your career based on considered choices you planned or has it unfolded as part of a process you didn’t necessarily foresee?
It was both choices and luck. I chose Legal Aid in NH. I chose to have a fairly public profile as an advocate on a number of issues. That result in a job offer at UNH Law ( then Franklin Piece Law Center) At the school, I made choices which made it possible for me to move from a contract position to a Tenured position and to retain a connection after I “retired.” As a result of work I had done and contacts I made, I was offered several opportunities to be Of Counsel once I gave up my tenure. I selected a small firm with a focus on helping low income people. That’s what brought me to what has been a very fulfilling career.
What do you enjoy most (and, if you’re willing, what are the least enjoyable or hardest parts) about your current role?
Best part is that I am home today. I worked very hard during my career. Generally did some work every day. Now I have the ability to limit my responsibilities. I genuinely am enjoying consulting at the school about program and development opportunities and handling Social Security cases for indigent clients at my firm has been mentally and emotionally rewarding. There’s nothing unpleasant in what I am doing. I have chosen not to take on family law matters, despite an expertise because of my desire to limit my hours and my belief that as currently practiced, it’s a 24*7 job. I am pretty sure that if I took these cases, I would not like the lack of ability to plan my time.
What skills and personality traits lend themselves to success in your field?
I am extroverted. I like talking to people. I am a good listener. I like helping others. I am generally of good spirits and humor, even when stressed. I am forgiving of myself and others. I tend to see the glass half full. I rarely am negative about others. I enjoy working and worked a lot without feeling badly about it. I guess I am pretty smart.
What advice do you have for someone who hopes to find a job similar to yours/in your field?
To be a law professor these days requires a resume that I do not have. One needs to clerk at a court of record or a federal court. A top 10 law school is helpful. Otherwise, I think developing an expertise and learning how to well communicate both orally and in writing is critical.
What has been the best surprise in your career?
I do not think I considered teaching and it resulted from an unsolicited job offer. The emotional rewards of helping launch young lawyers has been enormously satisfying. And working with really smart engaging people is a gift. I really am surprised that I got paid for doing a career that has been so rewarding.
What might you do differently, in hindsight?
I would have been a better student in law school and seriously tried to clerk. I don’t think I appreciated the richness of the law, or thought about its formation and impact on society until long after I got out of school. In reality I was not mature enough for the education; though much of it was effective once I was ready to think more deeply about law generally. Otherwise, I was lucky to have made good choices.
What do you do outside of work that helps you be successful?
I have a wonderful spouse. I have always been involved in and a little obsessive about some competitive sport. Golf won out after 40 and is truly meditative for me. I also have developed relationships with people I would not likely have made friends with, which provided some important professional connections and given me friends who are not lawyers.