When I think about the question, “Why did you become an attorney?”, it really becomes two questions – the question of why I went to law school in the first place, followed by the question of why I decided to become a personal injury attorney.
I wanted to become an attorney partly because of my dad’s grandma, who left Hungary when she was a teenager and came here because she wanted the opportunities we have in the United States – the whole “American Dream” idea where you work hard and try to make things better for future generations. My dad was a second generation American, first generation college graduate. Knowing about my dad’s grandparents, and his parents, and then my dad working so hard all their lives, I wanted to make them proud by using the opportunities they gave me to give back to others. Becoming a lawyer was a way for me to try to do that.
I wanted to become a personal injury attorney because I’ve seen these stories from other sides, and it helped me learn whose side I wanted to be on. I started out working for judges, helping them decide how to rule on cases. Then I worked as an insurance defense attorney. I was very good at it, but I didn’t always feel good about it. I didn’t like that part of my job was to figure out the least amount of money to give someone who had been hurt or lost a loved one. I remember one day over dinner my husband said, “You’re great at your job, and I’m proud of you. But you could be using your powers for good.” That sounds kind of dramatic, but at the core it was true. I had already been thinking about it.
Often, people with my educational resume and work history go into big law firms and do defense work. I saw a real need for someone like me to move to the other side – to use my knowledge and abilities to represent the people who need it most. To give them their best chance at a fair result. I finally decided to leave defense work after I helped win a jury trial for an insurance company. The hours after that verdict were such a jumble of emotions for me. Although in that case I do think the result was correct, and even though I was proud of my hard work, by the time I drove home I felt this weight on my shoulders and I just kept thinking over and over again, “I am on the wrong side.” Within a few months I was in the process of coming to work at Chuck Boyk’s firm.