2016 Outstanding Young Trial Lawyer Award

Peter M. Young
Friday, December 2nd 2016
Acceptance Speech

 

I sincerely appreciate receiving this honor, and it is especially meaningful to me since the award committee itself is made up of such a fine group of young trial lawyers.  I have come to know and respect all of you over the last several years, and I cherish the relationships that we have developed.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Habush and Dan Rottier for giving me the opportunity to do the best work with the best people. 

One of those people is my mentor and great friend, Jim Weis.  The fact that a lawyer like Jim Weis nominated me for an award like this is something that I value beyond description, but I will try:

Jim is someone who I have looked up to since long before I started practicing law.  Most of you know him through his decades of service to this organization and the people that we represent. 

He is a tireless advocate for our clients.  He has made boundless sacrifices for the good of our profession.  He is an excellent trial lawyer.  He is an exceptional human being.  He is probably going to be mad when he finds out about all of these claims that I’ve made about him.

In working alongside Jim for the past seven years, he has taught me a great deal about how to prepare and try a case.  He taught me how to win humbly, and he taught me how to lose gracefully.  And in reflecting upon some of the things that Rick Friedman shared with our group this morning, I think that I have learned as much – if not more – from the losses as compared to the wins. 

But all along the way, win or lose, Jim Weis taught me not only how to try a case, but how to at least try to lead a good and productive and purpose-driven life, both in and out of the legal arena. 

I cannot overstate the significance of having a good mentor, and there are so many good ones sitting in this room. 

One of the greatest resources that the New Lawyer Section has is the guidance and wisdom and experience of the lawyers who are not new lawyers anymore.  We can call them the emeritus members of the New Lawyer Section.  Our organization is so fortunate to have such a strong foundation built by the vanguards of WAJ. 

Last year, Rob Jaskulski’s speech at this dinner included a call to “take the fight for our clients’ rights beyond the courtroom.”  The first step that he outlined in that effort involves “maintaining the integrity of our profession through our interactions with the public.

The New Lawyers have heard this call.  Under Chris MacGillis’ leadership this past year, and continuing under Kristen Scheuerman’s leadership in 2017, and going forward into the future, the New Lawyer group is going to coordinate and sponsor a yearly community-service day that is staffed by lawyers.  We will be calling upon all lawyers to participate in these events, and it is something that all of us look forward to with enthusiasm.

In thinking about how to conclude this short address, I thought about another one of the things that Rick Friedman mentioned this morning.  “Think about the source of your resilience.”

As is the case with so many of us, the source of my resilience is my family.  My wife – Annie - and our three kids. 

In looking at them, and thinking about the years to come, I consider all of the hard work that our members have done to even the odds for the weak and against the strong, and for the sake of the next generation, I want the product of that hard work to endure.

As Bob Habush wrote in the program for tonight’s dinner, “the Young Lawyers are the future of this organization.”  We look forward to honoring the legacy that has been entrusted to us, Bob, and we won’t let you down.

With that in mind, it is incumbent upon us to continue to give WAJ our time, our talents, and our resources so that we can protect the ground that has been gained. 

But of equal importance, we need to continue to work together in doing these things so that we can keep making progress for our clients in the years and decades after we are not new lawyers anymore. 

I relish this time as a new lawyer, and I look forward to many more decades of practice alongside all of you.  I want to again thank all of you for this honor.  I sincerely appreciate it.

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