Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Louis P. Milot, founder of the Law Office of Louis P. Milot, is a solo practitioner in Peoria, Illinois. His firm specializes in civil litigation with a diverse practice involving substantial representation of individuals, families, and businesses. He has practiced law since 1990.
How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
Various areas of civil practice have become increasingly complex resulting in a splintering effect on the bar and giving rise to more specialization and the decline of the general practitioner.
What is one device you couldn’t function without?
The computer in all its manifestations (e.g., laptop, cell phone, etc.) has become indispensable to any law firm operating today, including my firm. For someone who had to use a typewriter in college, it is easy to skip over the virtual impossibility of running an office without word processing software.
For a solo practitioner, having the ability to sync your office calendars with your portable device is a necessity. I can input a hearing date at the courthouse on my cell phone and it will show up on my assistant’s calendar a few seconds later. I almost never have to worry about someone at the office scheduling two things for the same date and time.
How do you manage your well-being?
Managing a heavy caseload can be challenging and exhausting, particularly where the current labor market has made it difficult to hire and retain qualified employees. Representing clients in high-stakes cases where they may face losing their children or their reputations can be emotionally exhausting.
I try to engage in self-care that includes daily exercise, adequate sleep, and periodic vacations that help me refresh. I also find that stepping away from a project or case for a day or two can help recalibrate your role and goals. Prayer and meditation can provide a source of comfort and insight.
How do you remain civil in tense situations?
I subscribe to the notion that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, I cut the number of tense situations with any given person by roughly half if I’m not doing something that creates a tense situation.
That means being upfront about what you are doing or will do. When a tense situation develops, I try to inject humor into the situation, which can sometimes ease the tension.
How can attorneys advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession?
For many attorneys, the first step is to learn about and accept the reality of the existence of implicit bias. Knowledge can enhance awareness of systemic bias. The mantra that “we’ve always done it this way” is the most difficult legal precedent to overcome and an obstacle to a better profession.
The second step is to stop being silent and apathetic. When there are disparities in the bar and on the bench that do not reflect the population being served, it should be noted and shared with colleagues, judges, representatives, friends, and the media.
It is also incumbent upon those in the legal profession to go beyond race and ethnicity to also understand and incorporate into their professional analysis an appreciation for differing cultures. For example, because not all cultures perceive law enforcement in the same light, ridiculing or making assumptions about someone because they did not call the police can be inappropriate.
What is an attorney’s role in furthering public confidence in the rule of law?
Putting the zeal back into the representation of a client will reflect well on the profession even if the attorney is unsuccessful. This needs to be tempered by the willingness to compromise when the law and facts dictate.
One of the most corrosive forces to the rule of law is the lack of affordable representation for the populace who often feel left behind and disenfranchised. Every attorney should commit to handling at least one substantial pro bono case each year.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
What is the biggest challenge impacting lawyers today?
Making the law just, accessible, responsive, and meaningful to everyone who comes into contact with our judicial system.
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel and cycle—avocations that are now rivaled by watching Netflix.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys here.