Promise Law January 2019

An Instinct for Research Why I Love What I Do Promise Law Post

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January 2019

Nobel Prize-winning physiologist and founder of modern behavior therapy Ivan Pavlov once wrote, “Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.” Most widely recognized

for his research on classical conditioning and drooling canines, Pavlov was known for his intense intellectual curiosity and ferocious energy, which he referred to as “the instinct for research.” Now, I may not be a Nobel Prize winner, but ever since I studied Pavlov’s experiments while earning my undergraduate degree in psychology, I’ve always been interested in why people think the way they do, and in the years since, I decided to pursue a career in law, staying motivated by that same curiosity. My own kind of instinct for research started when I was in high school. I was taking a class that allowed me to get my certification as a nursing assistant. After I got my certification, I worked in several specialties in the hospital, from obstetrics all the way to oncology. While this experience really didn’t have anything to do with law, it was during that time that I started to learn that people experience awfully challenging situations throughout their lives, regardless of their ages or backgrounds. I found that, even at 17 years old, I was comfortable dealing with these particularly difficult medical situations. In the hospital, I helped children who had lost a parent, mothers who had lost a baby, and husbands and wives who had lost a partner.

While my experience as a nursing assistant helped me understand how to help people during stressful times, my instinct for research continued. When I worked for Student Affairs and Admissions at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, I would travel to different regions around the country and see the various ways in which school divisions were run. It struck me that all these operations stem from what the government may or may not permit them to do. I saw how law and policy affect everything for everybody. That was when I decided to go to law school. sense to me. Helping people plan their life’s legacy can sometimes function like a puzzle. It requires efficiency, creativity, and understanding to determine how a client wants to structure their plan and who they trust to carry out their decisions and wishes; however, it can also arouse a lot of anxiety and sadness — thoughts of leaving behind family members is a difficult topic to ponder. Trusts, estates, titles, and property transfers were subjects that seemed to really make

In litigation, for example, lawyers have to be focused on one accident at one point in time. But when it comes to a client’s legacy, attorneys have to be curious about their entire history. Their financial philosophy, their approach to money, how they feel about their own autonomy — all of this influences what they might decide or plan. Getting to truly know clients is still is one of the best features of my job. When clients come into my office, I hope my team and I can help assuage their fears by taking the time to understand their concerns and reduce their anxiety about the process by giving them clear information about their options and next steps. We hope to get them into a mindset where they can confidently say, “All these things are happening to me, but I’m deciding to be invested and proactive in the way I live my life.”We understand how scary it can be to think about, but our goal is to help clients see this process as one that is both positive and empowering.

To specialize in this kind of law, an attorney has to be willing to hear a person’s full story.

-Geneva Perry | 1

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