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The Life of a Lawyer - Ladue News: Business & Wealth

The Life of a Lawyer

Rewarding, Challenging

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Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 11:09 pm, Tue Aug 9, 2011.

Law is a jealous mistress, or so goes the old saying. It demands a lot of time and attention, but what does it offer in return? We checked in with three attorneys at various stages in their careers.

Zofia Garlicka, 33, is from Warsaw, Poland. An associate at Carmody MacDonald since 2007, she focuses mainly on family law.

Q: How long have you been practicing?

A: I graduated from St. Louis University School of Law with an LL.M. in 2001. Before starting at Carmody MacDonald, I worked for an American-based law firm in Warsaw.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a lawyer?

A: My father was a lawyer and so were others in my family. They always made it look fun and cool.

Q: What attracted you to law?

A: I wanted to do something meaningful and important. I’m competitive, and I enjoy a fast-paced environment. Family practice is challenging because it involves many aspects of law, including financial, estate and trust issues.

Q: Is your career meeting your expectations, so far?

A: Absolutely. My bosses are so encouraging, and I’m developing my skills and taking on more complex cases.

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise?

A: The degree of responsibility has had a huge impact on me. What I do as a lawyer has a direct effect on the lives of so many people. When I go home, I’m still thinking about my clients.

Craig Kallen, 44, has been practicing law for 20 years. He opened Kallen Law Firm last year and focuses exclusively on family law.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a lawyer?

A: It goes way back. My undergrad degree was in journalism with a concentration in advertising, but I started thinking about law during my senior year. I took the LSAT and did well, so one thing led to another.

Q: What attracted you to law?

A: I always wanted to stick up for people, especially those who can’t stick up for themselves. I grew up with a single mom who didn’t get child support. She worked 12-hour shifts as a nurse to support us. After one of my first cases, my client said to me, “No one has ever fought for me before.” That sealed the deal for me. I knew I wanted to go into family law. I want to be there for the moms.

Q: Why did you start your own firm?

A: I’ve been fortunate to work at some of the finest firms around, but I reached a point in my 40s where I wanted to do it my own way.

Q: How has the legal profession changed during your career?

A: Times have changed, and that has affected the profession. Things are more informal now, and there’s less decorum in the courtroom, and less respect for authority, tradition and law in general. I’m seeing more contempt of court than ever before. People don’t obey court orders anymore. Too many guys get away with not paying child support.

Q: Has your career met your expectations?

A: Yes. I’m still proud to be an attorney. It’s the most honorable profession there is, unlike the way it’s portrayed sometimes by the press and public. I still believe you can walk into a courtroom in this country and get justice. That’s what keeps me motivated.

Alisse Camazine of Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal has been in practice 30 years. She focuses on child custody and complex divorce and property litigation. Last year, she and law partner Alan Freed published Divorce in Missouri, a comprehensive overview about Missouri divorce issues written for a general audience.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a lawyer?

A: When I graduated from college, I thought about being a paralegal, but my dad refused to pay for my training. He said, “Go to law school.”

Q: What attracted you to law?

A: My undergraduate degree was in political science, but I knew I wanted to help people. I took a few classes in social work, but worried that I wouldn’t be good at listening to people’s problems all day. It’s funny, because that’s what I ended up doing as a lawyer. I did personal injury and criminal work for a while, but didn’t relish the prospect of getting guilty people off. My parents were divorced, and I liked the idea of making the process easier for people. So family law was the right choice.

Q: Has your career met your expectations?

A: Yes. It’s a good feeling, helping others through a rough time. But anyone who wants to be a lawyer should know that there’s absolutely no similarity between law school and the actual practice of law. Once you realize that, you’ll be fine.

Q: How has the legal profession changed during your career?

A: Lawyers are more aggressive now. Too many of them forget their ethics, and it’s ruining the system. They prolong cases so they’ll make more money; they don’t care that they’re costing clients time, money and emotional turmoil.


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