Dan Baldwin 2013-12-27 11:32:37
“The state bar wouldn’t like it if they heard me say this, but I am a specialist in everything,” says Jack Levine. Levine says the benefits of being a generalist are that there are few areas of the law where other areas don’t frequently overlap. Rather than having to refer a client to other lawyers, the generalist can usually handle just about everything that comes up in a case. His career path to becoming a generalist evolved from his first efforts as an attorney. Levine’s first job after passing the bar exam in Arizona was working for a midsized personal injury law firm. Because he was the “newbie” in the firm, every case that came into the office that was not a personal injury case landed on his desk. As a result he handled divorces, criminal defense, workers’ compensation, employment law, probate, landlord and tenant matters, personal injury cases and everything between. “I greatly enjoyed the variety and the challenges that these cases brought. I think that this was a carry-over from my earlier years practicing in New York where it was considered unethical for a lawyer to turn down a case simply because he or she was not familiar with the area of law involved,” he says. This generalist approach developed from a philosophy that the relationship between attorney and client was considered more important than anything else. When the state gave someone a license to practice law the state did not specify that the attorney can only practice personal injury, probate or some other field of law. According to Levine, the state and the disciplinary authorities expected lawyers to handle everything that came their way, and to represent their clients to the best of their ability regardless of the area of law. Levine enjoys the challenges of his career. “The circumstance that made me want to be an attorney was my love of competition. I greatly enjoyed and excelled in sports when I was in high school and college. This resulted in the development of a competitive spirit. I bring this love of competition to every case I am involved in and, although, winning isn’t everything, I enjoy it far more than losing,” Levine says. He finds that his biggest challenge as an attorney is making enough money to meet the high overhead of practicing law during times in which fewer clients are willing to pay what they perceive as large fees for a lawyer’s time. “My firm is different from the competition in that I rarely turn a client away who has suffered an injustice, regardless of their ability to pay, although I do insist upon clients paying what they can reasonably afford,” Levine says. He has plans to transition his practice into mediation. Levine worked for a time as an American Arbitration Association mediator. While there, he developed a new approach to mediation, which relies heavily on the interactive involvement of the parties rather than relying on the mediator to do the heavy lifting. While with the association, he had a settlement success rate of 87.5 percent. Levine serves as the pro bono legal adviser to the Brain Tumor Support Group at St. Joseph’s Hospital providing legal advice to patients and their families for whatever legal problems they have, including assistance in qualifying for Social Security disability benefits, preparing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, living wills and other documents that might be required. “I love my job because every day presents new challenges. When I leave home in the morning, I half-jokingly announce to my wife that ‘I’m leaving to fight for justice.’ I know that it sounds corny, but at my core, I actually mean it.”
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