Eileen Letts is a Chicago-based equity partner at Zuber, Lawler & Del Duca LLP where she specializes in personal injury law.
What drew you to personal injury law?
I started practicing personal injury defense work when I was with the City of Chicago. I enjoyed it and have continued to practice in the area ever since.
How has your practice evolved over the last few years?
[I] have been involved in more mediations/arbitrations to resolve cases before trial.
From your perspective, how can lawyers adapt to the changing legal profession?
We have to adapt to the practice now being 24/7. There was a time when we didn’t have email or cell phones and we weren’t as accessible. Now we have to expect emails and texts from clients and opposing parties all the time. This definitely requires being vigilant.
Why is civility important in the practice of law?
I had a case with an extremely difficult lawyer, everything was a fight with him. We were in court on several occasions arguing and disagreeing about several matters in the case. He gave the appearance of being civil when on many occasions he was not. When the case was over the judge (did not openly say it) but made comments indicating that he was glad that I had continued to be civil throughout the proceedings, even when the other side had not.
What’s one thing lawyers can do today to increase civility in the profession?
Respond in a timely manner to the other side and be a professional. Even though we are often on opposite sides in litigation, it is always best to be polite. When I had a case early in my career and the other lawyer was not being cooperative the judge said “the world is round” and you may need something from the other side at some point. I remember that statement and it has served me well. I always try to be cooperative with other lawyers in cases. I have become friends with some and we keep in touch. We only have our reputation in the practice of law and it is worth protecting.
What do you do in your free time?
I read and ride my bike outside and inside (Spin class).