Bill Simpson Would Definitely Be a Journalist for the New York Times
Bill Simpson – The personal injury lawyer and partner answers some rapid-fire questions…
If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be:
A journalist for the New York Times.
Best career advice I’ve gotten:
“You never know where your next file is coming from.”
The three qualities that got me where I am today:
My work ethic (I sometimes describe myself as a work horse, not a show horse), my inter-personal communication skills, and my tenacity.
Moment I felt I made it:
I went to mediation many years ago on a big case with defence lawyers who had at least twenty years more experience than I did. At the start of the day, one of them said, snidely: “We don’t usually see lawyers of your vintage on this kind of case, Bill” to which the mediator, who I had worked with on other cases, said: “Don’t let his age fool you. You’ll have your hands full with Bill today”. Five hours later, they paid over $2,000,000 in the settlement.
The easiest career decision I’ve ever made:
Lerners LLP was the first law firm to offer me a job when I was a law student. I wasn’t cocky enough to think that there might be a second offer from someplace else, so I accepted the offer. The rest is history.
Favorite perk of the job:
I work with extremely capable law clerks and legal assistants who make my work so much more manageable. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine doing this job without them.
Worst pitfall of the job:
I usually meet my clients for the first time at very low points in their lives. I worry about them. Sometimes that worry can become hard to manage; I don’t have the personality to just forget about them when I go home at night.
Who do you admire and why?:
I admire Miguel Cabrera – the greatest hitter in major league baseball of the last fifty years. They say that he can identify the spin on the ball when it comes out of the pitcher’s hand in order to know what the pitch is going to be!
I also admire my clients greatly. Imagine waking-up today being able-bodied and going to sleep tomorrow without a limb because of an accident. I get to watch incredible displays of perseverance and determination on a weekly basis that leave me feeling inspired.
What’s the last thing you binge-watched?:
House of Cards and Downton Abbey. I am getting ready to binge-watch The Crown on Netflix.
What does your career look like in 5 years?:
I think my career in five years will be largely as it is now – hopefully with not too much more grey hair! I don’t see myself ever practicing a different kind of law.
Change you’d like to see in your industry?:
First, we are turning out far too many lawyers than the industry can reasonably absorb each year. Second, I would like to see more lawyers become specialists and less remain as generalists. Third, I would like to see more judges appointed by the government to get the judicial system into reasonable shape; the current strain is not sustainable.
What book left a lasting impression on you?:
Hard to name just one! A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving introduced me to the power of imagination in its written form. Good writing is easy to read.
What song would you want played at your funeral?:
Guide Me O Though Great Jehovah (Tune: Cwm Rhondda, 1745)
What should every man try once in his lifetime?:
Flying business class.
Would live in a foreign country, where would it be?:
My family’s strongest roots are in Scotland — in the Highlands not far from the Spey River. I’ve never been to Scotland, but it’s very high on my list of places to see (and soon I hope)!
If I could compete in an Olympic sport, I’d like it to be:
Something with a minimal risk of injury, like golf, table tennis or air rifle shooting.
Relationship advice to my younger self:
Listen first; speak second.