I truly feel humbled when receiving compliments, and that aspect of my personality seems to strengthen with age.
As a Senior Defense Counsel, I always deflected compliments and found a way to send them in the direction of one of my subordinate attorneys or paralegal. I was not being disingenuous. Rather, I truly felt that their assistance and presence made the difference.
Once again, I find myself in a position to credit others.
Ruth Carter, now a 3rd year law student in Arizona who interned in the Fort Leonard Wood JAG office, wrote in her blog that I inspired her (in part) to seek ways to perfect her advocacy skills–even by taking summer classes. She interned in the summer of 2009, but I never had the privilege of having her or either of the other two interns work in my shop (Trial Defense). What I do remember is that I faced 9 courts-martial (military trials) in a 3 month period. It was the busiest summer of my life, and I struggled constantly to remain afloat. Luckily, everything seemed to work out well for my clients, and those interns were able to see a ton of advocacy.
What they saw, however, was not just me.
My clients were worth my time and efforts. I learned something from each of them, and those lessons enable me to be a better person and attorney. Helping them was always a pleasure.
I am where I am because many wonderful people took time to work with me–Dave Koon, Chuck Briscoe, Mike Hoeflich, Cully Stimson, and the incomparable Josh Karton. Without that team of friends, I would not be the advocate I am today.
So, Ruth, thank you for the kind words and recognition. My wish for you, as well as every other aspiring advocate, is that you are surrounded by a team akin to the amazing one that nurtured me. True success comes not from you, but from those who surround you.
For those who did not read what Ruth wrote, part of the text follows:
I spent a significant amount of time this past semester applying for summer positions. With the economy still on the rebound, they were hard to come by. I made a promise to myself that no matter what I did during the summer before my last year of law school, I got to take improv acting classes. I had a few experiences in the last year that inspired me to take a formal class:
- Captain Eric Mayer, U.S. Army JAG: I had the pleasure of spending last summer with the Army JAG in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Captain Mayer was the defense attorney in the office, and he was phenomenal in the courtroom. Whenever there was a court martial, I sat in the audience and watched him in complete awe. He never seemed uncomfortable or at a loss for words. I don’t think he ever wrote a script for anything he did, not even his opening statement. When he questioned a witness, he didn’t have a list of questions. He put a list of the information he needed to get out of the witness to build his case and would check off each one once he got the answer he needed. I was intimidated by his skills just from sitting in the audience.