Schwebel Goetz & Sieben: The Resilient Journey of Women in Personal Injury

2024 Feature Nominations

In the world of personal injury law, empathy is often an underrated but crucial element that distinguishes great attorneys from the rest. Empathetic lawyers understand the emotional turmoil their client goes through, and they use this understanding to provide not just legal representation but also support and comfort.

Along with exceptional legal expertise, robust litigation skills, and unwavering commitment to seek justice for their clients, the women of Schwebel Goetz & Sieben understand the value of this personal regard and pride themselves on being able to walk the fine line between empathy and maintaining a professional detachment.

Hannah Mielke, who started with Schwebel Goetz & Sieben as a summer associate while completing her Juris Doctorate, understands this only too well. “My biggest struggle is being there for the client and being supportive without becoming too emotional about the tragedy that just occurred,” she says. “It’s something that I constantly work on even though it sometimes takes a little extra discipline and self-awareness.”

“Practicing personal injury, we often get to experience both the inside of the courtroom as well as our clients’ homes,” says Courtney Lawrence. “Both perspectives make this job unique. For me, it’s the people part of the job and being able to help make a difference in our clients’ lives that makes it so rewarding.”

Personal injury law is a very special niche, and everyone seems to find their way to this practice in different ways. For Alicia Sieben it was her experience working for the firm as a clerk that sparked her interest.

“I fell in love with it,” she says, “and I knew that was the only area of law that was for me. You meet people in their most vulnerable state, and you can be their sounding board as well as someone who can help them on their path to recovery and back to where they were. You kind of take their hand and lead them through the process that they are otherwise completely lost about.”

Her colleague Jessica Servais expresses similar sentiments. “I enjoy the fact that I’m actually representing an individual and making a difference in someone’s life,” she says. “For me that is much more gratifying than representing a billion-dollar insurance company and saving them a few thousand dollars or representing a huge, faceless corporation.”

Cody Scharpf describes herself as a people person. “That’s why I think I gravitated toward personal injury,” she says. “It’s something where I’m not just working with other attorneys or business professionals as you would in a corporate setting, I’m dealing with everyday people who certainly didn’t ask for this terrible thing to happen to them. They need someone to help them through the process and I enjoy being that person.”

Esprit de Corp

Helping people, particularly when they are at their most vulnerable seems to be a common theme among these women of Schwebel Goetz & Sieben, but there’s another area where they also concur and that is the positive energy and culture of their firm.

“It’s a wonderfully interesting dynamic,” says Scharpf. “Even though some might see essentially two distinct generations of attorneys with about a 20-year gap between the senior attorneys and the younger ones, you’d never know it because there is such a great harmony and sense of family.”

“I look forward to coming into the office every day because I like my coworkers so much,” Servais says. “It’s such a great group we even like to hang out outside the office.”

“We just all get along so well,” Sieben says. “I really don’t know if that’s how it is in other firms, I just know that the people here are all wonderful. We’re co-workers, mentors, and friends. I always know that if I have a question or need advice, there are plenty of people here ready to help.”

“It’s like coming to work with friends every day,” adds Mielke. “We’re teammates in the office but we also socialize outside of work. I have to say, it’s a great feeling to know that I can walk into anyone’s office, even the most senior partner’s, at any time if have a question.”

Lawrence has a particularly strong tie to the group. “They raised me to become the attorney I am today,” she says with a smile. “I began here in 2005 as a law clerk and was hired as an associate once I passed the bar. I’ve benefited from everyone’s support and advice.”

Empathy coupled with a strong support system within your firm are undoubtedly two of the strongest assets a personal injury attorney can build upon. It allows attorneys to provide holistic support to their clients, helping them navigate the legal process while dealing with the emotional toll of a personal injury case.

Susan Cushing

Susan Cushing is the associate editor of Attorney at Law Magazine as well as a staff writer. She has been contributing to the magazine for more than eight years.

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