Kindness Has a Seat at the Table

Throughout my life, I have focused on making sure I do the right thing. By that, I mean making decisions that are rooted in integrity and always looking for the good in people. When I started my legal career, anytime I said I would be guided by what is “right,” the overwhelming response was that I would be “swallowed up.” As it turns out, while I may have been nipped a couple of times, I have never come close to being swallowed up.

After law school, I served as an assistant district attorney, handling narcotics cases where I had the privilege to protect not only the community but the criminal defendant. While I was known as a skilled trial attorney, the position was more to me than just that. I never lost sight of the fact that the defendants were people who had life stories and that how I handled their prosecutions could have a meaningful impact on their lives. I listened to them, not with skepticism, but with integrity and kindness. I was moved when defendants told me I was the first person to ask them about their goals or the circumstances leading to our meeting. That meant more to me than a conviction.

Now, as a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, where I focus on matrimonial and family law matters, I continue to try to do what is right, without sacrificing my clients’ goals, and obtaining great results for them. Matrimonial law has unique challenges: the cases are often driven by the clients’ desire to achieve their definition of justice—to right the wrongs of their marriage. It takes integrity to redirect clients from emotionally-driven litigation.

Moreover, I have found that being guided by doing what’s right achieves successful results beyond my cases. In the workplace, it has enabled me to cultivate a positive work environment among my colleagues. While this approach may seem obvious, it is often forgotten due to the demands of our workloads and our personal lives.

I also am committed to doing the right thing outside the workplace. I believe that having food and shelter are human rights, and that people who are in a position to help someone or their community should do so. For me, that means volunteering with a food pantry and other organizations where I teach children about nutrition and healthy eating by preparing meals with them. By having these human rights met, they too, will have the strength to focus on doing what’s right.

When I have questioned my abilities or have lost my footing, I remind myself to do what is right: to be guided by integrity and see the good in people. Afterwards, I always stand up taller.