Roni Sokol explained how her experiences have fueled her career, making a choice to pursue law school and a career before starting a family. Sokol is a personal injury lawyer at The Sokol Law Firm in Beachwood.
Q. Do you find that your experiences continue to motivate you in your work?
A. One of the reasons I wanted to become a lawyer was to be able to give a voice to people who are unable to fight for themselves, or those who have been victimized. I was also intrigued by the notion of solving problems and winning battles based solely upon the use of brainpower rather than physical strength or other forms of intimidation.
After 21 years in practice, these desires continue to motivate me daily. It is deeply gratifying to help people who have been wronged or mistreated by others. In our world, this usually involves financial compensation to the party who has been wronged. However, sometimes it can involve nothing more than eliciting an apology or an agreement to cooperate. These types of results are equally gratifying.
Q. In an Attorney at Law article from 2016, you allude to feeling pressure to conform to societal norms to start a family and abandon your career. What advice would you offer to the young people who are struggling with this choice?
A. I would not say that I was under immense pressure to abandon my goals. It has more to do with the pressure that society has traditionally placed on women to do it all. We are constantly reminded that whatever we choose to do with our lives, we should or could be doing more. If we choose a career path, we are seen as lacking in one facet of our lives. If we choose a stay-at-home mom path, we are seen as lacking in another facet.
Thankfully, we live in an ever-evolving world. I have seen so many changes in the way women are perceived just in the past 20 years. I think there is less of a stigma attached to how a woman chooses to live her life than there used to be. What I would tell young women today is to do what you enjoy. Whether it is working full time or staying home with your kids. There is no longer a right or wrong answer. Whatever gives you personal satisfaction is what is right. It’s that simple.
Q. Would you recommend going straight to law school after completing an undergraduate education? What would be the best course of action?
A. Personally, I did not go straight to law school after college. I wanted to make sure that I was ready to take on the commitment associated with law school. Instead, I worked for a few years, in law firms and other offices. I learned what the everyday life of a lawyer looks like. I learned what it was like to earn a paycheck and pay bills. Essentially, I learned what it was like to be an adult and I learned that it was not easy. After three years of working, I was anxious to go back to school and I had a new appreciation for the opportunity I had been given. I had a base understanding of what it was like to practice law, and I was able to use what I had learned at work to my benefit in school.
In fact, I believe I excelled in my legal research and writing class because I had been reading and editing legal briefs at work for so many years. I don’t know that the previous work experience is necessarily something that law firms look for, but it certainly could not hurt an applicant to a law firm. In terms of seeking employment, my personal belief has always been that networking is the key. Nearly every job I have had in this profession has come through personal contacts I made either in school, in practice, or just socially. You can never know too many people.