My first exposure to the legal profession was through my grandfather, who I respected very much ever since I was a child. Born in Lithuania, my grandfather immigrated to the Unites States with his mother when he was only five years old. He grew up in Chicago and put himself through law school, graduating from Chicago-Kent in 1938. My grandfather served as an important role model for me during his life and imparted to me the importance of fairness and equality under the law.
I also had the good fortune of growing-up around family friends that were well respected lawyers in our community. I listened to their stories about the exciting cases that they handled and how their efforts helped those in times great of need. It was the example set by my grandfather and the lawyers that I was exposed to at an early age that ultimately inspired me to become a lawyer.
What is your primary practice area?
I concentrate my practice in the area of representing plaintiffs in personal injury litigation, including cases involving wrongful death and catastrophic injury resulting from automobile collisions, construction injuries, medical negligence, premises liability, and products liability. I began my legal career over twenty years ago working as an insurance defense attorney before switching sides to represent injured plaintiffs.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
The evolution of my practice has been dominated most recently by advancements in technology. These advancements appear to have affected almost every area of the law, including law firm marketing, communication, file management, document storage, e-filing, service of pleadings, discovery, video evidence, the creation of animations, and how evidence is presented at trial. I believe that litigation technology will continue to evolve at an ever-increasing rate. At times, keeping up with the new technology can be challenging, but by doing so we have enhanced our ability to better represent our clients.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Find a mentor.
The most important thing that you can do as a young lawyer is to be taught the true practice of law by an experienced lawyer who has seen it all. Pair up with a person who you respect and who you feel comfortable with. You never know, they may even learn a thing or two from you too.
Bar Associations, Law Firms, and many other legal organizations are a great place to start when seeking a mentor. The Illinois Supreme Court’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Program is also another great way to connect with an experienced professional outside of one’s personal work environment.
How has civility made a difference in your practice?
Follow the golden rule – treat others as you wish to be treated. Being civil sets the tone as to how lawyers work with you on any given case and over the course of your career. I have always done my best to act in a professional manner while zealously advocating on behalf of my clients and for the most part have been treated the same by opposing counsel. But keep in mind that professionalism and advocacy are not mutually exclusive.
As part of my practice, I have attended depositions that have become intense and emotionally charged. Reacting to unprofessional behavior with more unprofessional behavior does nothing to advance your client’s goals and to me is a sign of weakness. Furthermore, such conduct erodes the comradery of our profession. From my experience professionalism fosters professionalism.
What do you see as the future of the legal profession?
With all of the new developments in our society and the law, it is very difficult to predict the future of the legal profession. However, I believe that a significant part of the future of our profession will involve ensuring that everyone, including the underprivileged, has access to our system of justice.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my family and exercising.
Bradley Pollock is a senior partner with Walsh, Knippen, Pollock & Cetina, Chtd. He has been practicing law since 1995.