Dan Baldwin 0000-00-00 00:00:00
A Great Way to Spend a Career Lawrence Hirsch says that as corny as it may sound his drive to simply “do the right thing” is derived in part from Gregory Peck’s portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch in the film To Kill a Mockingbird. “I have always held that character as a high standard of doing the right thing.” Hirsch primarily practices bankruptcy law with DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy P.C., a full-service, multidisciplinary firm providing statewide services from offices in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson and Flagstaff. He comes to the law naturally as the son of Philip Hirsch, a successful and respected trust and estate attorney in New York City. “My father is my true role model and he gave me some powerful advice. Govern your dealings with other attorneys as if everything you do will be reported in the New York Times.” Hirsch originally had planned on becoming a rabbi or a history teacher, but, “I decided that law was a better choice than academia, as I still felt an urge to ‘do good’ and thought that I could accomplish that more as an attorney than as a history professor.” The specialization in bankruptcy since the early eighties came naturally, too. “I just sort of fell into it when my general practice seemed to draw more bankruptcy work than other areas of the law.” At the time he worked in a multi-office clinic practice where the bankruptcy work tended to land on his desk. “I liked that area of law and just continued to pursue it. Eventually, I decided to focus exclusively in that area.” Helping people in times of great stress is one of the great rewards of his specialization. “I truly enjoy the opportunity to help people straighten out their problems and get themselves back on an even keel financially.” He also finds bankruptcy law interesting on an academic level. “I never get stale and am always learning something new.” The attitude of the attorneys practicing bankruptcy law in Arizona is another attraction. “The attorneys want to get a good and fair resolution and to communicate with each other. We all know each other and get along pretty well and we try to negotiate rather than draw lines in the sand.” Effective communication between all parties is essential he says. “In general these cases involve the haves and the have-nots. If the have-nots do not communicate with the haves, the haves will bury them.” Members of Arizona’s legal community have a willingness to work together to get a better resolution for all concerned, he says. Hirsch also praises the local Bankruptcy Court. “Our bench holds us to a high standard. We have wonderful judges.” He notes that bankruptcy attorneys “get spoiled” in a good way because bankruptcy judges are on permanent assignment and don’t rotate. They are people who like this area of the law and are good at it. “Our familiarity tends to promote the practice of problem resolution. Everyone knows all the players.” The legal community comes together in more personal ways also, he says. Hirsch was diagnosed with a potentially deadly illness in 2004 and had to walk away from his practice to devote himself full-time to his recovery. The response from his colleagues and the courts was “wonderful.” “No one tried to take advantage of my weakened condition. Even in some really tough cases my adversaries said for me to concentrate on my health and ‘we’ll take care of things when you get back.’ You have to respect that level of kindness and consideration.” His wife, Iva, also an attorney received the same support when she became his full time caregiver. Hirsch’s most rewarding case was in a trial over $187 in the Tolleson Justice Court in 1982. “That short trial was the highlight of my life because the opposing attorney became my wife a year and a half later. That’s how and where we met and no career highlight could ever match that.” He has had a number of other significant career highlights, however. Hirsch has argued before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and filed a brief with the US Supreme Court. He also argued a case before the Arizona Supreme Court. “That was an interesting experience partly because my wife’s parents were watching from the gallery.” Hirsch has also written articles, served on State Bar Committees, and has lectured extensively to various legal groups for continuing education. He advises young attorneys to use well, but be wary of, new technologies, which can provide vast amounts of information in amazingly short periods of time. He warns that clients who know you can get information fast tend to expect fast answers to often complex legal problems. “A quick answer isn’t necessarily a good answer or the right answer. Take your time and think and you may find that there is a better solution than your initial knee-jerk reaction.” Hirsch finds all aspects of his profession rewarding. That is especially true of his interactions with clients, co-workers, colleagues, and judges. “They have made the past 30 years go by fast. It’s been a great way to spend a career.”
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