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Chad Engelhardt receives Integrity in Our Community Award; urges students to practice law with civility

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

"Will this all be worth it?"

That was one of several questions Ann Arbor attorney Chad Engelhardt asked students gathered at Cooley Law School's Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism's "Integrity in Our Communities" speaker series last week.

"It's a natural question," Engelhardt said. "We spend years of our lives, we make incredible sacrifices of our time, energy, and ultimately of ourselves, all to prepare ourselves to enter a profession where we're called upon, where we take an oath, to put our clients' interests ahead of our own, and the good of our justice system and our community and our society ahead of ourselves."

Naturally, he said, lawyers want to know if those sacrifices are worth it; whether they'll make a difference, and ultimately lead to happiness.

But in order to answer that question, he said, students must also ask themselves what drives them to practice law.

He said he's had been fortunate to talk to hundreds of Cooley students over the past few years, and has learned that most want to become lawyers to make a positive difference.

And that's worth more than money, he said.

"In order to have that satisfaction, you have to find your passion in the law, and chase it relentlessly," he said. "Because if you do, success is sure to follow. When you're passionate about what you do, when you care and you're committed, you're going to take the extra time to do the research, to find that piece on point, to analyze more carefully, to dig out facts and marshal them effectively, you will be armed to and advocate compassionately and persuasively on behalf of your clients."

Engelhardt, founding member of the Center for Medical Truth and Justice and a partner at Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC in Ann Arbor, was honored with the school's "Integrity in Our Community Award."

Melissa Stowe-Lloyd, assistant director of Cooley Law School's Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism, said Engelhardt has supported Cooley's ethics and professionalism initiatives in the Ann Arbor community and beyond, not only professionally, but personally.

"He has offered financial support to many of the community's initiatives to help the underprivileged, provided countless hours of pro-bono legal services, and gives his time to help others beyond their legal needs," she said.

While introducing Engelhardt, Joan Vestrand, associate dean of the Ann Arbor campus of Cooley Law School, noted that remarkable people possess hallmark qualities that earn the deep admiration of others.

"If you know Chad, you would conclude from the manner in which he conducts himself that his determined purpose on Earth is to make a positive difference in the lives of as many people as possible," said Vestrand. "I would venture to guess that not a day goes by without someone feeling better, feeling lifted, feeling cared for, feeling helped, or feeling heard because of Chad."

Engelhardt, who graduated from Cooley Law School in 2005 after spending 12 years as an Oakland County deputy sheriff, praised Cooley's dedication to professionalism in action and community service, to bettering not just the profession, but the public.

Some lawyers believe they must balance between advocacy of their clients and civility, he said.

"But here at Cooley, we learn differently," he said. "We learn there's no need to strike such a balance because civility and zealous advocacy aren't antithetical. They're one and the same."

He said lawyers who practice with integrity are sure to find happiness and success.

"Let actions speak louder than your words," he said. "By your actions, you shall be known. And if you do practice law ethically and honorably and with integrity, there's no question in my mind that at the end of the day years from now, if you ask yourself that question - Was it all worth it?--if you're like me, you'll look back and answer with a resounding, `Yes!'"

Engelhardt focuses his practice on the litigation of complex medical malpractice, catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases.

Detroit Business recognized Engelhardt as one of Michigan's top medical malpractice attorneys and he was named one of Michigan's "Rising Stars" by Super Lawyers. He was also honored by The New York Times as one of Michigan's "Top Young Attorneys."

Published: Mon, Feb 11, 2013

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