Attorney at Law Magazine Cleveland Publisher Jim Shultz sat down with Lori Luka to discuss her career and her mentors.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
Luka: I realized that I had a desire to become an attorney toward the end of high school. My father was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and was unable to work due to his illness. I helped with his application for SSDI and realized that I enjoyed helping him. In the beginning of my second year of law school, my father passed away. Leading up to his passing, he was hospitalized for a number of months and had a procedure performed on his kidneys to place a stent to aid in breaking up kidney stones. Within a day of the procedure, my father was paralyzed from the diaphragm down and never walked again. There was no question that a medical malpractice occurred. The toughest part was hearing the attorney that my family consulted, advise – in a very matter of fact way – that my family didn’t have a case because my father was dying anyway. This was a turning point in my young life; I discovered early on that I made the right decision to attend law school and that I was dedicated to becoming an attorney. But, more importantly, I knew that I wanted to represent injured people and see to it that they got the respect and legal advice that they needed.
AALM: Do you have any mentors or professors that encouraged you along the way?
Luka: My partner, Lynn A. Lazzaro has been my most influential mentor in my 15-year career. Lynn is very dedicated to the practice of law and has been an attorney for 40 years. He has taught me the importance of preparation, hard work and giving back to the legal community by being active in local bar associations and mentoring programs. He has also underscored the importance of work-life balance.
I am very fortunate to have such an influential mentor as a law partner.
AALM: What case most defined or redefined your practice? Luka: I had the opportunity to actively handle a paraplegic case. Our client was injured while working for his employer at a mill. Liability was disputed and the economic damages were substantial. By team effort, our small firm was able to obtain a just result that would allow the client and his family to have the income they needed to pay for future medical care and allow them to have much needed lost income for the foreseeable future. I will never forget how grateful the client was to have the ability to take care of his family. It is one of my proudest achievements as a lawyer. This paraplegic case reminded me of why I chose to become a lawyer. We all need reminding of those reasons from time to time – it keeps us humble and grounded.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Luka: I become an equity partner this year and the firm’s name was changed to Lazzaro Luka Law Offices, LLC. This had been a goal of mine since I began the practice of law and to have achieved this goal is so rewarding. Having my father’s last name in the firm’s name makes me so proud. I go to work every day honoring his memory and striving to treat my clients with the dignity and respect that they deserve because I understand what it means to be in their shoes.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Luka: I enjoy spending quality time with my husband of five years, Tony and our two dogs, Pax and Elphie. My husband is a physician and has a busy schedule too. We enjoy taking walks with our dogs, boating, bike riding and taking small vacations. The key for us is planning ahead!