Practicing Grace in Law Practice

Listening to President Obama’s incredible eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, I was suddenly compelled to understand the meaning of grace. Amazing grace. And when a friend sent me a blog post by someone who studies and writes about the meaning of grace in our lives, one of her definitions resonated. In her Washington Post column, writer Sarah Kaufman pointed out that grace is a state of compassion. It includes the ability to empathize, to feel what other people feel without experiencing what they experience, to hurt for the mother who loses her child, to feel the pain of those in pain, to feel the anxiety of others. To feel it and incorporate it and explain it to others. And then it struck me — this is the essence of our work in the law — at least the way we practice it in our law firm.

It is this feeling of empathy, this grace, that made many of us choose the law as a profession. My decision to practice law was deeply rooted in my commitment to help those who have been hurt, who have lost loved ones, whose children have been taken from them, who have lost someone they love, who have been injured themselves and have lost their freedom from pain, from worry, from embarrassment. The legacy of this commitment runs deep in my family as well as our law firm, Hersh and Hersh, was founded on this commitment as an essential part of our law practice. And now, as a third generation comes to our law practice, this legacy is carried forward.

At Hersh and Hersh we are drawn to plaintiffs work to make individual lives better and more bearable when they have been hurt or injured. We have never been driven by avarice. When we conclude a case and we have a client who is grateful, who has been vindicated, who has achieved a sense of having a wrong made almost right, we feel satisfied.

Each time this has happened over the years, whether the injury or loss was from a defective product, a bad drug or medical device, a bad driver or a negligent doctor, I have found one key element that is always present and at the core of our attorney client relationship. That key element is empathy — feeling that pain, that loss and achieving the only result possible in our system of law, a settlement or verdict. In order to do this well, to be a true trial lawyer, one must have empathy which we believe is a kind of grace — and it is this state of grace, of compassion that drives us to make our clients’ lives better and to right wrongs as far as possible in all we do.