Meet This Month's LAWYER OF ATLANTIC COUNTY #LOAC
Modeled after the infamous HUMANS OF NEW YORK (#HONY) Site, the ACBA Young Lawyers Division started LAWYERS OF ATLANTIC COUNTY (#LOAC) to to get to know our members on a more personal level. Each month, the ACBA Young Lawyers Division Executive Board chooses a different attorney to be featured here as the Lawyer of Atlantic County. Attorneys are nominated by their peers; any attorney who is nominated but not chosen to be featured in a given month will automatically be put back into the running for each subsequent month until featured. Interview questions typically focus on the attorney's professional and life experiences.
Rebecca Lafferty, Esq.
Cooper Levenson, Atlantic City, NJ June 8, 2018
By: Jocelyn R. Fietkiewicz, Esq., ACBA YLD Director of Finance
For this month’s #LOAC feature, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Lafferty, Esquire. Rebecca attended the College of New Jersey where she majored in law and criminal justice with minors in biology and psychology. She graduated from Widener Law School in 2007 and served as law clerk to the Honorable Michael Connor, J.S.C., in Atlantic County from 2007 to 2008. She is currently an associate at Cooper Levenson. Rebecca is a former Chair of the ACBA Young Lawyers Division and currently a Trustee and Treasurer of the Atlantic County Bar Association. Rebecca grew up in and continues to be a resident of Atlantic County.
Thank you, Rebecca, for taking the time out to share your experiences and advice with young lawyers and readers of the #LOAC!
Did you always know you wanted to be a lawyer?
Originally I wanted to be a pediatrician. However, after taking organic chemistry, I decided to switch my major from biology to law and justice.
My father is an attorney and I had worked in his office off and on since the age of 14, so I always had an interest in the law. My dad practices in the areas of plaintiff’s personal injury, commercial litigation and the representation of municipal/governmental entities.
Were there any particular individuals in your life who inspired your legal career?
It would have to be my father. He gives me advice on an almost daily basis. He has always included me in his work since I was about 13 where I would help him prepare exhibits for trials.
What was your favorite and least favorite part of law school?
My least favorite part of law school was the Socratic Method. However, that was the part that really prepared me more for what it is like to be a lawyer…to learn how to think on your feet. It was the most useful skill I learned in law school.
I liked the opportunity to study different types of law and get a feel for what my interests might be in.
My favorite course was the environmental law clinic that I participated in during my third year where I represented non-profit environmental groups under the guidance of three attorneys. I had the opportunity to prepare for and observe court hearings.
My least favorite course was the course entirely focused on Article II, UCC, Sale of Goods.
After law school, what was your career path leading up to the present day?
After law school, I clerked for the Honorable Michael Connor, J.S.C. in the Criminal Division in Atlantic County. My favorite part about clerking was the opportunity to get a taste for criminal law knowing that I probably would not end up practicing it and I also enjoyed being a part of the court proceedings with the judges.
After clerking, I worked for a firm in Norristown, Pennsylvania named Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer where I practiced insurance defense work.
About one year later I moved back home to Atlantic County and began working at Youngblood, Lafferty, and Sampoli where I practiced in the areas of bankruptcy, land use, commercial litigation, special civil part matters, insurance defense work, guardianship and estate planning, and municipal and governmental entity work.
Four years later I began working at Cooper Levenson, where I continue to work now. At Cooper Levenson I practice in the areas of land use, commercial litigation, and the representation of municipal/governmental entities.
What is the best part about practicing law?
The fact that I have been able to help someone is the most rewarding to me. Several times after an application has been concluded and I have achieved a successful result for the client, I have received a thank you note or card in the mail from the client thanking me for my work and for helping them which solidifies why I enjoy my job.
What is your least favorite part about being a lawyer?
Being able to turn off at the end of the day. There’s always something in the back of my head that I am thinking about as I’m trying to fall asleep. It’s hard to turn off and get away from my work. I am always thinking about something: Did I send that notice out on time? Did I file that brief? Did I send that letter?
If you could do one thing differently on your path of life, if anything, what would it be and why?
I don’t think there is anything I would have done differently because it has made me the person I am today. For instance, figuring out that the medical field wasn’t for me was something that I needed to find out for myself as opposed to focusing on law at the commencement of my college career.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to still be practicing land use in this area and hopefully with Cooper Levenson.
What advice would you give to young attorneys and law clerks?
Always make sure to take time for yourself! As hard as it is to try to get away from work, it is really important to find the time to spend with your family and friends and participate in whatever hobbies that you enjoy and find relaxing. That work/life balance is really important.
Why do you like working in Atlantic County?
I love the comradery that goes along with such a close-knit group. I have been able to meet a good majority of the attorneys in Atlantic County from attending events and being a trustee of the bar association. I think that everyone is helpful and respectful to each other. I have reached out to other attorneys who I have never really spoken with before to ask questions on the area of law in which they have a particular expertise and I have never been avoided or ignored, they have always helped me. What I love most about this area is that everyone is very supportive of each other.
What has been your involvement with the Young Lawyers Division and Atlantic County Bar Association?
I am currently a trustee of the bar association. I am finishing up my sixth year and I was sworn in as the Treasurer on June 7, 2018. In my capacity as trustee, I have served as the county coordinator for the high school mock trial program for Atlantic County for the last 8 years. I have also assisted with the coordination and planning over various Bar Association events such as Law Day, the annual awards dinner, CLE programs and more. I am also currently organizing a trip to the US Supreme Court in 2019 for Bar Association members to be sworn into the highest court in the country…stay tuned!
I was also a past chair of the Young Lawyer’s Division from 2012 to 2013. As a member of the YLD, I helped coordinate and plan the annual Children’s Holiday party by fundraising, shopping, and giftwrapping.
If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be?
I would love to be an event planner. I enjoy party planning and everything that goes along with it, whether it be weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, etc.
What is your favorite legal movie?
Despite not caring for most television legal dramas, I do have a few favorite “legal” movies, the first being Erin Brockovich because that was the movie that sparked my interest in environmental law and caused me to register for the environmental law clinic in law school.
To Kill a Mockingbird is also one of my favorite legal movies. My favorite fictional lawyer is Atticus Finch because he was honorable and principled and was willing to risk his reputation and career to pursue justice when it was an unpopular course of action. I also admired the example he set for his children.
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Lawyers of Atlantic County
was created in 2015 by the Atlantic County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division