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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    May 01, 2002

    Letters - What Has Been the Most Personally Satisfying Use of Your Legal Training?

    Peter Flessas

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 75, No. 5, May 2002

    What Has Been the Most Personally Satisfying Use of Your Legal Training?

    This is a memorable experience from my early years of law practice.

    My client was a rather tall, thin, Greek immigrant septuagenarian. He proudly sported a white handlebar mustache and bushy eyebrows. He had fought in the Greek-Turkish War and was hearing impaired due to daily artillery barrages.

    One day, while crossing a street, he was injured by a motorist who failed to yield the right-of-way. My client sustained nonresidual leg injuries, but soon healed.

    I negotiated a settlement with the insurer. Subsequently, at my office, I explained the settlement procedure to my client and asked him to sign a release of his claim. He became irate. No way! To my chagrin, he related that in his country the wrongdoer would be brought to court and would be flanked by two policemen. The tortfeasor would have to apologize, with his head bowed, to the victim.

    When I again attempted to explain our system of law, it literally and figuratively fell on "deaf ears." He refused to sign the release. What a dilemma for a young attorney eager to satisfy a client and earn a fee. I couldn't sleep that night but used the time to fashion a solution.

    The next morning, I went to the Milwaukee County Courthouse and spoke to the late Circuit Judge Elmer W. Roller, a distinguished jurist. He agreed to help.

    The next day I brought my client to his chambers and seated him at a long table, opposite the robed judge. A gun-toting bailiff stationed himself next to my client. As Judge Roller explained the law, I acted as an interpreter, in a loud voice, being fluent in the Greek language. I believe this impressed both the judge and my client.

    While not precisely similar to the reported procedure in Greece, my client appeared satisfied as he stroked his mustache while signing the release. When Judge Roller also signed as a witness, my client raised his bushy eyebrows and nodded his head in approval at this unexpected judicial authenticity.

    - Peter N. Flessas, Emeritus, Milwaukee

    What's Your Most Rewarding Experience? The Wisconsin Lawyer is pleased to include letters from lawyers about experiences they find personally rewarding. Please send your experiences by email to the editor at the State Bar or by letter to the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158.

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