Raymond Went, Esq.
Nehmad Perillo Davis & Goldstein
Interviewer: Inna Pokrovnichka, Esq.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the current President of the Atlantic County Bar Association, Ray Went. He has been an ACBA Trustee since 2009. Ray was born and raised in Atlantic County. He graduated with a B.A. from Syracuse University in 1999 and from Villanova University School of Law in 2003. Ray concentrates his practice on civil litigation, including commercial, property and insurance matters. He also has extensive land use experience having represented clients in New Jersey coastal towns from Brigantine to Cape May.
Thank you, Ray, for taking the time out to share your experiences and advice with young lawyers and readers of the #LOAC!
Describe yourself in one sentence.
Right now, I am a dad and a trial attorney.
Which role is more challenging?
They are both challenging in their own ways.
Are you originally from Atlantic County?
Yes, I grew up in Ventnor and I currently live in Atlantic City.
Did you always know you wanted to be a lawyer?
I knew at least since high school.
How did you decide that you wanted to a lawyer?
I watched the movie “A Few Good Men” and it caught my attention.
When did you first become involved with the ACBA and why?
I became involved with the ACBA two or three years into my practice. I noticed that other attorneys and judges were involved and it was a good chance to meet them outside of the courtroom.
What are your goals as this year’s ACBA President?
My major goal is to support the Community Food Bank because there is a constant need, not just during the holidays. It is a good organization with a good rating in terms of the percentage of money going to the cause as opposed to administrative costs and other overhead. My other goal is for the ACBA to have wider exposure to more groups. I did not want to just stick with the traditional groups that we help. Of course, we will continue to work with and help those groups; however, I want the ACBA to be exposed to other groups as well.
What do you like most about the practice of law?
The courtroom. You are only allowed to speak when it is your turn and it has to be relevant.
What do you find most challenging about the practice of law?
I think that time is the most difficult aspect. You are never done refining your case. Even on the morning of trial you are still thinking of things that might work and sound better. You always feel like you need more time to prepare or more time in the courtroom. However, there are time constraints. You never stop preparing, you just run out of time.
How do you deal with the pressures of time constraints and the feeling that you need more time?
A lot of trial lawyers I speak with say that despite the time constraints, they feel good about their case; but there is always something that could have been a little different. At the end of the day, you have to be satisfied that you did your best but that you can always learn and improve.
What would you say to young attorneys who at the end of the day wonder whether they could have done better if they
had more time?
Recognize that it is what it is. You have to work with what you are given. I always find, especially with trial attorneys, that it is helpful to go back to the office and talk it out with your colleagues; it is a good way to evaluate yourself. You also learn from each experience you have in the courtroom and that learning experience can be enhanced when you talk things out with your colleagues.
Who was the most important mentor in your personal and professional life?
In my personal life, I would have to say my mom. If I need good and honest advice, there is no better placed to get it than from my mom. In my professional life, it would have to be William Copeland, my Public Affairs professor at Syracuse University. He had such a solid outlook on how to go out, get a job and live a balanced life. He taught very practical skills but, at the same time, he was very socially conscious. Educationally, professionally, emotionally, he was very good at teaching kids how to get ready for life.
Do you recall any challenges you faced as a young attorney?
I started out in 2003 and a couple of years into my practice, around 2005-2006, the economy got really bad; therefore, my experience was not the same as that of young attorneys coming out today. That being said, there are challenges that all young attorneys will face, such as dealing with the pressures of partner expectations, client expectations, student loans, etc. The biggest challenge is trying to manage how you deal with those pressures and not letting them consume your entire life.
If you could give young attorneys one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get involved and get out there. Not just with the Bar Association, but in general. It is good to have name recognition earlier rather than later. It will advance your career. On the personal side, if you don’t already have something you like to do, find something you like to do. In any demanding profession you need the ability to decompress in a healthy way and clear your head.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my daughter. We go to the beach as much as possible and spend time on the boardwalk.
What is your dream job?
I had my dream job when I was a lifeguard in Margate 20 years ago . . . yes, 20 years ago.