MICHAEL ETTEDGUI’S INTERVIEW BY OTLA: THE LITIGATOR SEPT/OCT 2016 EDITION
1. What is it that attracted you to work in the personal injury plaintiff field of practice?
I knew two things when I graduated from law school: I wanted to help people who were disadvantaged and I wanted to do so in the courtroom. The practice of personal injury law was a natural choice. Only when I began practicing did I appreciate the meaningful impact I could have on peoples’ lives.
One of the first cases I worked on was a medical malpractice claim in which physicians negligently failed to diagnose cancer. The victim was a father of two young children and the family’s sole income earner. He eventually passed away. I got to know him and the family and had the opportunity to help them through some very difficult circumstances. We were able to secure fair and lasting compensation for this family. When it was all over, they thanked me for helping ensure they had one less thing to worry about. I often think about this family and the small but important impact we, as plaintiffs’ lawyers, can have on people like them.
2. When did you join OTLA and what are some of the main reasons that motivated you to join?
As a new lawyer, I was expected to be well-versed in the procedural and substantive elements of negligence law. I read as much as I could in order to educate myself but the human element was missing. I asked around and was told about OTLA, an organization that puts on legal education seminars where young lawyers could interact with colleagues in the field. I joined immediately. Now, I cannot imagine practicing without the benefit of an OTLA membership.
3. How has your OTLA membership benefitted you and your clients?
OTLA is my main source for continuing education. I use my membership to stay abreast of important case law and best practices in our field.
4. Have you actively participated in OTLA?
I am a contributor to the OTLA E-news, which publishes and distributes case summaries on a weekly basis. I am also a member of the editorial board of The Litigator, OTLA’s print magazine.
5. Is there anything that you would like to see OTLA do to enhance the membership experience?
I would like OTLA to establish a mentorship program in which senior counsel will provide advice and shadowing opportunities to junior counsel, especially in a courtroom setting. All too often, young lawyers do not get the opportunity to experience a trial. It would be useful for young lawyers to accompany senior lawyers to trials in order to gain an appreciation of trial advocacy.
6. Where do you see OTLA heading in the next 25 years?
I see OTLA continuing to grow as the personal injury bar’s pre-eminent organization. It should continue to develop multidisciplinary educational programs and lobby the government to enact equitable legislation for injured parties.