Kellye Fabian is a litigation partner at Freeborn & Peters, and has been practicing for eight years.
What do you find the most interesting about your practice?
The industries I have learned about, the people I have met, and the places I have been. I have learned about satellite telephones, the Chicago Board of Trade, milling uranium and vanadium, the ideal temperature for mashed potatoes, shared insurance pools, Medicaid, pharmacy benefits, cellular technology, how railroads came to own the property on which their trains run, joint-replacement products, beef jerky, and ethanol production. I have met ostrich farmers, mill workers, miners, convicted felons, life-long nurses, salesmen, economic geniuses, real estate developers, and, of course, trial lawyers. I have watched cattle grazing in Glacier National Park, paragliding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, scaled red rocks in Moab, Utah, admired the New York City Ballet, seen the falls in Idaho, golfed in Grand Junction, Colorado, swam in the sun of San Diego, California, and climbed to the top of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona.
What makes a good lawyer?
Any hard-working lawyer can try a case. But only the lawyer willing to take risks, while retaining perspective, flexibility in thinking, and directness in speaking can win a case. A litigator must always be thinking about the trial. Everything she does, from the time a complaint is filed until the jury instructions are prepared, must have a purpose for the trial. A lawyer with perspective does not get distracted by discovery motion practice, letter writing, or bullying and bravado directed by or against opposing counsel. Flexibility in thinking means that a lawyer must be nimble enough to change her theory as a case evolves and discovery reveals new or different facts. Lawyers who are rigidly tied to one theory and cannot adapt as a case develops over time will miss opportunities and lose credibility with the fact finder. Finally, a good lawyer speaks, whether to a client, a judge, or a jury, to be understood, not to impress.
What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?
In my view, the biggest legal news right now relates to the potential retirement of Justice Ginsburg from the Supreme Court. Obviously, she is the only woman on the Court, and one of the last liberal and socially responsible voices. A replacement, whatever his or her stature, will be junior and will not have the voice Justice Ginsburg has. Given the wide-ranging legislation President Obama is currently moving through Congress, it will be interesting to see what happens when this legislation is challenged and brought to an ultra-conservative Court.