Litigation PR: Did you think of your mentors on Law Day?

Nick Augustine is the principal of Pro Serve PR Marketing, a firm that provides marketing and public relations advising and services for law firms. Nick’s niche in litigation public relations grew out of time spent in litigation trenches. Nick is a frequent national speaker on law firm public relations, risk, strategy and public opinion management. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

May 1 was Law Day. Appreciate giving thanks and credit to the lawyers who influenced you early in your career. Take a moment to say thank you. Doing it publically is an honorable way of paying tribute. I tip my hat to Kari L. Fritz-Klaus and to John B. Kinkaid.

As a kid, I watched my uncle on the bench and thought the practice of law was noble. I aspired to grow up and work in a system that kept order and accountability in society. I watched “L.A. Law” in the ’80s and the O.J. Simpson trial in the ’90s. Preparing for the future, I took the undergraduate criminal law and procedure courses at Marquette and went on to earn my law degree from The John Marshall Law School, 10 years ago this month.

Kari L. Fritz-Klaus, Law Office of Fritz-Klaus, a solo practicing family law attorney in Milwaukee, gave me a chance. I was junior at Marquette when I applied to the law clerk position she posted at Marquette’s law school. When she learned I was an undergraduate student, she remarked that she assumed I was already in law school. Undaunted, I asked for a chance and went to work learning to research annotated statutes and figure out a legal argument to help her client. I nailed it.

Along the way, Fritz-Klaus let me scale back my hours when I volunteered at the Milwaukee County Office of the District Attorney, and with both positions, I learned the stark contrast between public and private practice. I will never forget working into the evenings, ordering pizza and working through drafts of pre-trial orders and the rolling paper fax machine. Fritz-Klaus was a leader in her local bar, well known for her efforts in civility and professionalism in practice. I learned so much about professional client service.

John B. Kincaid, Mirabella & Kincaid P.C., a pillar of DuPage County family and civil practice, also gave me a chance to learn among the best lawyers. I was taking evidence at the time Kincaid would bring me along to court, explaining every detail along the way. One day, I asked about evidence, wondering why nobody objects in family practice. He explained the balance of judicial economy and a need to ascertain the true nature of the martial estate. I was learning about the business of law.

During my time as a law clerk at Mirabella & Kincaid, I worked on dissipation tracing, deposition and trial preparation, assisted in court with trials and hearings, and just about every other facet of family and civil litigation matters. One day after court, Kincaid told me a story about reviewing orders, and stressed the importance accurate and exact language. He spent the time to teach me the noble ways of family and civil practice – a gift I have always treasured.

Be good to one another and take the time to acknowledge all the people who devote their personal and professional lives to improving the legal profession.

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