My grandmother, since deceased, said the day I was sworn in was one of the proudest of her life. As the first in my family to obtain an advanced degree of any kind and the first attorney, I didn’t see it in the cards. My mother raised my sister and I alone for years. We had no savings for college or law school, so I earned scholarships to pay for tuition and worked to pay for everything else. Years later, my first boss would share this is what drew him to hire me over others with experience.
Somewhere along the way, I developed the notion that in my career, I was going to find a way to give back, better the lives of others. It’s important to identify what motivates you, what prompts you to give 110%, to sacrifice your weekends and weeknights if needs be. Your motivation may be the challenge of navigating legal precedent in briefs, it may be knowing your efforts bettered a family’s life by helping in an adoption or drafting an error-free Will. Helping those who have been hurt by others motivates me more than any paycheck ever could.
My first legal job was actually two jobs: a part-time assistant prosecutor and part-time at a civil practice. A year into the job, I accepted appointment to the prosecuting attorney position in a small neighboring county rather than accept a gracious offer from my friends at the civil firm. A few years after running unopposed in the election, my wife and I made the joint decision to relocate, so I sought a position with the Office of Attorney General. Since then, I have been challenged with more complex cases and convoluted legal issues than I could have imagined in that first year out of law school. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have shared tears with victims of crimes. I have used the written word to bring the guilty to justice, and I have just as many times used the written word to ensure those wrongfully accused are not prosecuted.
Today, I oversee a unit that focuses on sexually violent predators and prosecute a wide variety of cases, particularly those committed against children. I am not bound by the billable hour. I am willing to give however much time to those kids and their families as needed. My family is adamant to tell others that their son is “ a prosecutor, not an attorney.” I find it amusing, but endearing as well. It’s possible I’ve found what motivates me. So, I hope each and every one of you who enters this varied world of law discovers what moves you and recognizes that opportunity to do what you love.