Why I do What I do
I cannot heal physical injuries. I cannot bring a lost loved one back into this world...
All I can do is make life a little better, a little easier, than it was before someone came out of nowhere and terribly changed someone else’s life forever. It is not enough, but it is something. Because doing nothing is unacceptable to me.
This is the Rispoli Law Law Blog, and you would think that would mean the posts here would be about “law,” but seeing as how this is Post No. 1, I would like to tell you how I got to this point in my life. If you have already read my bio, you know that I get a sense of personal fulfillment from helping people. I have had many, many excellent teachers and mentors. As a result, I firmly believe that because I owe so much of my success to those willing to help me, I have a duty to help others. And as an attorney, I have the ability to see how our society treats its members in the justice system. Are the financially disadvantaged allowed to begin on equal ground when faced against those of more substantial means? Do honor and integrity comprise the foundation for our justice system’s civil servants, or has cronyism and corruption taken root? At different times, it seems as though the answers to these questions are not always the same.
The American justice system is exceptional, but it is far from perfect. All wrongdoers are not always held responsible for their actions. What does that mean in practical terms? It is usually what happens after you have heard a friend or co-worker tell you about a tragic event and you find yourself thinking, “That is awful, I’m so thankful it didn’t happen to me.” While some of these circumstances are truly accidents with no one to blame but fate, a good number of these situations occurred because someone failed to take the bare minimum thought or action required to do something: A clerk fails to clean up a spill in the store after first noticing it thirty minutes ago? That decision resulted in an otherwise healthy man losing his ability to walk for the rest of his life after suffering a complex hip fracture after falling on that spill. A nursing home corporation decides to overwork and underpay its nursing staff so that the executive team’s bonuses remain in the high six-figures? That decision cost two adult children their mother and a husband his wife of fifty years because the nursing home did not have trained staff to prevent a pressure sore from becoming deadly.
I am greatly bothered, saddened and frustrated that such needless destruction to human lives occurs on a daily basis. But within all these emotions are also feelings of guilt. Why? Well, I did not always represent those injured by the negligence of others. Prior to beginning Rispoli Law, I was a corporate attorney, busy litigating various battles of large companies against each other. I used to view lawyers that did what I do now as attorneys who never made it to “the next level” of lawyering. I did not stop to think what the practice of law was like for those who have been critically injured or lost loved ones. Instead, I operated in a different sphere of the law, rarely coming into contact with these individuals.
But one day due to a set of highly coincidental (and fortuitous) circumstances, I found myself representing a client in a lawsuit in a significant personal injury matter. It was career-changing. I had the opportunity to see not only how a few careless deeds wrought deadly havoc, but also how fair compensation significantly eased the heavy burdens created by certain defendants in that case. It was during this lawsuit that I began to notice those guilty feelings I mentioned in the last paragraph. I saw one example of what can happen to any person—regardless of wealth, athletic or intellectual ability, or age—on any day that can alter lives forever. More specifically, I saw how lucky I am that these tragic events have never befallen me or my family. But the guilt emerged from my realization of how blind I was to the plight of millions who have suffered injustice, and then had that injustice made worse when those responsible are not held accountable for their actions. Not only did I have to become a lawyer that could do something to fix this—to help these people in need—I had to become a better person and do what I could to help prevent injustice from occurring in the first place.
Now, I am an attorney that focuses exclusively on helping those injured due to the misdeeds of others. Outside of my attorney role, I am greatly involved in Teach For America, specifically the Phoenix chapter as a member of the Associate Board, as equality of educational opportunity is extremely important to me. I help mentor young lawyers and law students when possible. And, of course, I make sure I am around so that I may try my best at being a good husband and a good father.
I am in a very rewarding, very busy phase of my life now. I am helping people for a vocation. I am helping people when I volunteer. I am building deep, meaningful relationships with scores of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. I continue to speak with past clients and see how the work we accomplished together made a tremendous difference in their lives to ease the pain. I continue to speak with students and delight in hearing that they are on wiser, sustainable paths leading to a rewarding future that was unimaginable not so long ago.
I do what I love, and I love what I do. It makes me a better lawyer. It makes me a better person. That is why I do what I do.