The Berkman Law Office Blog

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Back Story

By: Marna Berkman

I am not a typical lawyer. I hate controversy and confrontation, but at the same time, I love to argue and fight to support my client’s rights as long as it takes and as far as I have to go to do my absolute all for them. Sometimes, as my husband, my partner in life, and, in a sense, my law practice is quick to point out, I go so far that I forsake my own business interest in the fight. People make a lot of lawyer jokes, painting lawyers in a bad, greedy light, but the lawyers in the jokes are extremely far from my own reality.

I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer for sure when I was a senior in college. I was debating between going to graduate school to get a degree in creative writing and going to law school, and law won out. I loved creative writing and was naturally good at it, but the logic of law was even more natural to me. It was in my blood. I had worked for my father during the summers as a kid and loved how interesting a general law practice seemed—so many different types of clients from all walks of life, each with a story, each with a case and a cause.

That same year two different things cinched my decision. My father’s long-time associate, now of blessed memory, Arnold Lande, had sent me to the Brooklyn home of a deceased client of my father’s to do an inventory for all of the things within her apartment for the purposes of estimating her Estate. The woman had lived a long life and was a Holocaust survivor who had no living relatives to leave her assets to but, instead, had specified in her will that she wanted to donate them to a Jewish charity. As I poured through her old papers and trinkets and made lists of each old challah cover, candlestick, and piece of china, I had an epiphany. The general practice of law that my father had was not just about briefs, law books, and trials. It was about life and learning about the lives of others. It was fascinating!


At around the same time, I was taking a college education class which had a student teaching component. Having always loved children, I was a student teacher at a local public school near Barnard in Morning Side Heights, in upper Manhattan, something like two days a week. I had a great experience in the classroom, and one little girl taught me a lesson of a lifetime which led me to my chosen profession. When I asked this little girl—tiny, dark with huge brown eyes—what she wanted to be when she grew up, she looked up with great wonder in her eyes and said, “I want to be a lawyer…I want to help people.” I don’t remember her name now, but that girl and her aspiration became my catalyst. I think of what she said all of the time, even now. Help was the key and the main reason that I became a lawyer, and helping people is what I strive to do every single day.  

The Berkman Law Office, LLC serves clients throughout Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, and Westchester County NY. As well as clients in New Jersey.

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