Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Shultz sat down with George N. Wukovich to discuss his career and the mentors that encouraged him along the way.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Wukovich: In the 1960s, I was first intrigued by the image of an attorney and counselor at law portrayed in the “Perry Mason” television series. I could see myself as the character played by Raymond Burr and could feel the excitement of finding the answers to problems and winning the case for my clients. In the 1970s, I was drawn to theater and clinical psychology as areas of focused study. In the 1980s, advocacy and litigation finally drew me into law.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way?
Wukovich: My dad received his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy and became internationally renowned for his R&D steel casting work. My uncle, Emil, received his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy as well and went on to receive his Juris Doctor. He became an in-house patent and copyright attorney for the Eastman Kodak Company. My mom raised five kids and drove school buses, then graduated from nursing school and became a registered nurse in the same year that I graduated from law school and became an attorney. If they could do it, so could I. No excuses.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Wukovich: In college, I was a summer intern with the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. This showed me how the law is administered, from investigation and intake to arraignment and disposition. That summer, I also served as a civil jury chairman in Cuyahoga County. This showed me how the law is applied, from inside the jury room. In law school, I was certified as a legal intern and worked for a small litigation firm. This showed me how the law is practiced, as an attorney and counselor at law.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about being an attorney?
Wukovich: Professionally intervening to improve the quality of my clients’ lives by answering their questions, managing their risk, solving their problems or preserving their interests. Doing so is always my greatest accomplishment.
AALM: What do you find particularly challenging about your practice? How to you overcome these challenges?
Wukovich: Since 1997, I have run my solo practice as a oneman office. This means I must wear all the administrative, professional and marketing hats required to perform the functions required to represent my clients, earn a reasonable living and comply with all regulatory or commercial obligations applicable to my practice. Time management is my biggest challenge. Information technology and the digital age makes it possible for me to be able to do so competently, efficiently and successfully. The digital age changes constantly, quickly and dynamically, so we must be diligent to stay current with emerging technologies.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Wukovich: In 1977, the year I graduated from high school, PCs were first made commercially available. My initial contact with computers was for word processing and legal research in law school. After law school, as an associate attorney, I had a secretary or clerk who would use computers and digital technology to generate the information and work product I manually outlined and drafted. In 1997, I founded my solo practice and started working with computers and digital technology. Through much trial and error, and after investing in several professional tutorials, I have been able to learn how to competently and effectively work with computers and emerging technologies to practice law in the digital age.