The history of the legal profession began thousands of years ago in ancient Greece and Rome. Since then, it has undergone intensive reform around the world.
Adam Brown, defense attorney at Zukerman Law in Cleveland; Ian Friedman, defense attorney at Friedman & Nemecek in Cleveland; Anthony Lazzaro, attorney with the Lazzaro Law Firm in Moreland Hills; and Jeffrey Leikin, founder and attorney for Jeffrey Leikin’s law firm in Beachwood, said the practice has changed significantly, even in the relatively short window of nearly 40 years.
The Cleveland Jewish News asked attorneys between the ages of 30 and 60 to remember something about their careers.
Adam Brown | 30s
Brown, 31, has worked in the legal field for six years but has already seen profound changes in the way judges deal with certain drug offenses, such as fentanyl.
“Fentanyl came out in 2014 and there was a problem with it,” he said. “But from then on it got more and more common. And now the judges are taking a tough stance on anyone caught selling fentanyl or fentanyl-mixed cocaine or fentanyl-mixed heroin. And prosecutors are accusing drug dealers of manslaughter when they sell fentanyl and it kills someone. “
Ohio is one of the focal points of the deadly fentanyl epidemic that has struck the United States for the past decade. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 29 people per 100,000 Ohio population died from opioid overdoses in 2018. This was the fourth highest number in the United States after New Hampshire, Maryland, and West Virginia.
Anthony Lazzaro | 40s
Lazzaro, 41, who taught pay and hourly law for several years as an associate professor at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, said he has seen changes in the way he does business, but many of those changes simply depend on who is responsible at the federal level.
“My students wondered why the law on fair labor standards has suddenly changed in its more than 80-year history,” said Lazzaro. “It seemed so confusing to see dramatic changes year after year. For example, in 1946 workers were entitled to payment for the time it took to simply go to their jobs, but in 1947 this activity was no longer remunerated. My response to my students was that it matters who is in the White House and who is in Congress. “
Ian Friedman | 50s
While this area of law has changed dramatically in recent years, Friedman, 50, said he had problems early in his career making changes in this area.
“The biggest obstacle for me as a young attorney was resistance to my efforts by a system that is not responsive to change,” Friedman said. “When I started my law firm shortly after graduating from law school, I developed a style that was out of the adage and could be aggressive at times. It wasn’t uncommon for a seasoned attorney or prosecutor to remind me that this usually wasn’t the case. “
Jeffrey Leikin | 1960s
Leikin, 61, who is 36 years old as a personal injury attorney, has also seen a number of changes. During his career, he has seen crime reform permeate the system. One of the events in this reform is the inability of the juries to award a victim more than a certain amount of money in damages.
“They limited access to the courts and took the awards out of the hands of the juries,” said Leikin. “There has been a slow dissolution of the injured person’s rights as you move forward.”
While there have certainly been changes for better or for worse in the past few decades, lawyers like Leikin are still happy to help people all these years later.
“It met my expectations,” said Leikin. “I always wanted to help people, I still do. I do a lot of pro bono work. I do lots of favors for friends and people I know. But I looked forward to helping people. That has satisfied me throughout my career. Because I really felt like I was helping people who really couldn’t help each other. “
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