10/16/2014
Why am I a lawyer anyway?

Everyone has a story as to why they became a lawyer, doctor, brick mason, mechanic, or any host of other professions. Some made a conscious choice to pursue a a dream and others fell into a job or profession by accident. I am fortunate to be in the group that made a conscious decision to pursue a specific career and still love what I do years later.

When I was little I wanted to be a forest ranger and go hang out with Smokey the Bear. As I got a little older and realized that was a pretty solitary life and understood I would not be dealing with people. I liked computers, while in high school I took advanced computer courses. The first computer I worked on was a Wang. It was ancient when I was first introduced to it. It was programmed by punching holes in a bunch of cards and then feeding the cards through a processor about the same size as a large copier at Kinkos, and then it might come up on the screen with a phrase that says something like “Hi, how are you today?” I was really excited when we got into programming and Pascal and was able to make games and do some basic graphics. I spent two years in England doing service for my Church. While there, I found that I really liked working with people. I considered myself to be a problem solver and enjoyed really getting to know and help people. About a year into this service, I had a few run-ins with a barrister. In England, their law is set up with barristers and solicitors. The basic difference is that a solicitor can do the paperwork and the barrister actually goes in front of the “Bar” and argues cases to a judge or jury. For the life of me, I could not understand why anyone would want to hire this particular barrister. He was arrogant, condescending, and extremely narcissistic. Upon reflection, it could be that I had my own issues and a bit of 20 year old bravado. Nonetheless, that was my introduction into the law. I have no lawyers in my family, and really I had only met a couple lawyers in my entire life. Nonetheless, that unfortunate experience convinced me that there was a niche for a lawyer who were not only exceptional in the law, but that were good with people and cared about people as individuals and wanted to do what they could to make a difference in their lives. It was at this point, while still in England, that I decided that someday I was going to be a lawyer.

I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I finished my Church service, came home, and started going to school. I realized that I needed to be working towards going to law school. I married my beautiful best friend, Marta, within a year of coming home, and suddenly the reality of rent, utilities, food, and car payments were real. I realized that if I was going to make it to law school, I better get some experience and make sure that I really liked law before I spent seven years and thousands of dollars pursuing this degree. I enrolled in a community college and got a paralegal certificate. I had great professors there, and before the program was over, was able to get a job as a paralegal. I worked for a large personal injury law firm. I am grateful for the experience I had there as they trusted me with some great research projects, allowed me to come to the
courtroom for trial work, I got to work on briefs that were going to the Utah Court of Appeals and the Utah Supreme Court. It was great experience. I continued to work for them for the next several years while I finished my undergraduate work, had three kids, and took the LSAT (law school admissions test). I worked full time and went to school ¾ to full time for five years to get my undergraduate degree and work enough that we were not getting educational debt or other debts. We also had the opportunity to buy a couple of houses, remodel and flip them. So, between classes and after going to my day job, we would then work on remodeling houses which we were able to sell at a profit. When the time came, we had saved quite a bit of money to go to law school.

While working on my undergraduate work, my grades were not as good as they needed to be to stay at the University of Utah or Brigham Young University Law School; therefore, I looked at schools in other states. After being accepted to 4-5 law schools around the Country, I settled in on University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. I had never been there prior to going and visiting the school and making the decision to move to Memphis. I went in the spring and it was beautiful. The flowers were in bloom, it was 70 degrees, low humidity, and was a beautiful time to be in Memphis. I brought my wife back and the weather we experienced was much the same. We bought a house as the school agreed to give us resident tuition if we were Tennessee land owners and looked forward to a new opportunity to see a new part of the Country and experience the South. Then we moved there in August. August is the wrong time to move to the South.  Humidity was high, temperatures were high, and we were constantly wet. Tennessean boasted being great at gardening and farming. I never could figure out what the big deal was, it was wet enough that if a seed was dropped, anywhere, it grew. Marta supported me and with hard work and her support, I was able to finish law school in 2½ years. I actually transferred back to Brigham Young University to finish my course work, although I still graduated from the University of Memphis.

Now I had the daunting task of finding a job. I was not sure I wanted to go back to personal injury law; nonetheless, my contacts were in the personal injury arena and I was able to get a job at law firm doing defense work for insurance companies. I was there and learning a lot when I had the opportunity to go back to work for the big personal injury law firm, and I accepted the challenge and returned. On the day I was sworn in as a lawyer, I was able to go to trial with another lawyer. It is a lot of fun to say that I helped pick a jury in the morning and was sworn in as a lawyer in the afternoon. For the next seven years, I continued to work as a lawyer in Salt Lake and St. George, Utah. I became better at personal injury law and found that my profession met my personal interests of being able to help real people with real problems. After seven years and some differences of opinions, I broke out on my own and in 2006 started Brad Harr & Associates in St. George, Utah doing personal injury. I have never regretted the decision. My family is committed to being part of the community, not just living in the community. We have worked with civic organizations and sponsored local races and events, and have continued to do so for the last eight years. It has been really fun that during the 15 years that I have been in St. George to have met and helped thousands of people who needed help to get their personal injury claim resolved. I don’t work for one corporation trying to figure out whether another corporation owes them money on a contract where things did not go quite as expected. I have the privilege of helping people who, through no fault of their own, were injured by someone else’s carelessness. I often tell my clients that this is not about the person that hit them. No one sets out in the morning with the intention to run a stop sign, or through a lapse of attention run into or hurt someone else in their car. Nonetheless, when the accident is done, and everybody goes home, the injured person remains. Because someone else was negligent, the injured have medical bills, usually are losing wages, sometimes they are facing surgery, and quite often it takes people a lot longer to get better than they thought. My job is to help people like you with real injuries try to be treated fairly by the insurance companies.

In our world there is an appearance that people are sue happy.  My experience is different; my experience is that people want to be treated fairly. When you come into my office, you will always treated with respect and know that you are not just a client, you are a friend.