Jon Laird ’15: The Life of a Trial Lawyer

Jon Laird ’15:  Going into my internship I had very little knowledge of how a law firm was run and what the day to day life of a trial lawyer entailed.  When I first connected with Patrick Becherer ’65, who is a trial lawyer for the firm Becherer Kannett and Schweitzer, I knew that by interning for his law firm my knowledge of law would expand exponentially.  Patrick has specifically practiced civil litigation law for over 40 years.  His ability to teach and educate a novice legal intern like myself has enabled me to become much more informed of the legal process.  Mr. Becherer is a man that, to this day, still reflects upon his liberal arts education from Wabash and credits Wabash for his success as a lawyer because of his ability to constantly learn and adapt to new cases.

From day one I was thrown into helping the attorneys with their cases.  The first case I was introduced to, forced me to use my critical thinking and problem solving skills to analyze accounting invoices for a case that involved a collision accident.  I had to make sure that there were no fraudulent numbers in the invoices that could cause the case to swing the wrong way.  The hardest part of my first project was comprehending the documents that I was reviewing for my analysis.  The law terms were like a foreign language to me and I found myself reading the documents a few times to ensure that I had comprehended the material.  I am excited to see how this trial settles knowing I had a very small integral part in the case.

Throughout my internship at the firm I have mainly contributed in research and analysis of cases.  I have participated in investigating and exploring potential cases for the attorneys at the firm and broke down the information so the lawyers had a baseline of information to expand on for their case.  In interning at the law firm for little over a month now, I have noticed that being a lawyer you must stress the attention to detail.  Every document must be read and fully comprehended because the information is vital.  No matter how tedious the document may seem it must be read completely.  In examining depositions and writing up reports on them I fully understand the importance of detail because there is no room to skip a page and lose out on key information for the summary of the case.

Lastly, one of the most interesting and exciting experiences of my internship was when I had the opportunity to attend court with Mr. Becherer.  It was a settlement for a case in which Patrick was representing a company that was being sued over a “trip and fall,” situation.  During the settlement process the plaintiff attorney would first be alone with the presiding judge providing to her the amount they expect to be paid.  Then the defense attorneys would meet individually with the judge to place their bid.  It essentially was a bidding war of negotiations.  Eventually this settlement did not settle and is scheduled to go to trial later this month.

Through my experiences at the law firm with Patrick Becherer I have grown to cherish what Wabash College has to offer.  With the generosity of the Small Business Internship Fund I had the opportunity to expand and grow on my understanding of the law process.  Wabash College truly has been a blessing for me in growing my education and honing in on my skills to become a better man.  The experience I have had this summer strengthened my ability to overcome challenges and will help me through my future endeavors.

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