AugustReport - page 9

August 2013 CBA REPORT
l
9
feature article
I immediately went to work, meeting
with each employee in the office either
in groups or individually to take in their
personal assessment of office operations
and to help me understand where im-
provements could be made. At the onset
of every meeting, I asked that confiden-
tiality be given to all information shared
among the staff and reminded them that
they could meet with me individually
on any matter too challenging to discuss
openly. This open door policy existed
throughout my tenure at the Public
Defender’s Office, and I believe it gave all
employees a sense that their voices were
being heard, even if their suggestions for
the office were not able to be integrated.
Having worked in well-organized
and professional environments, includ-
ing Porter Wright and the Federal Public
Defender’s Office, I had grown comfort-
able having extensive resources to build
a sense of teamwork and a cooperative
culture in the workplace. Unfortunately,
this sense of common purpose and col-
laboration had been lost in the Hamilton
County Defender’s Office. However, as
my months passed as interim public de-
fender, I began to observe in the faces of
my staff members a growing excitement
for the future of the office. Stress levels
diminished, and an air of hopefulness
began to grow.
Optimism in the office also grew as
it expanded with the hiring of additional
attorneys. One of the benefits of working
in the worst economy in half a century
was the large number of highly-qualified
people who wanted to work in the Public
Defender’s Office. I had been taught by
my long-time friend and mentor, Tom
Miller, that we, as attorneys, have a
responsibility to train our peers along
the way. My policy for hiring was very
simple; I wanted to hire the smartest
person who had a passion for the job.
Although I believed that the office’s expe-
rienced attorneys could teach new hires
the nuances of the job, they could never
instill in them a passion for representing
indigent criminal defendants.
One of the greatest recollections of
my 100 days with the office was seeing
the excitement on the faces of brand new
attorneys, who were starting at a sal-
ary equivalent to what many of us made
more than 25 years ago in our first job. I
can only hope that my contributions to
the office in those few months have con-
tinued to positively impact the new hires.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
As soon as I had settled into the
job, and learned the names of most of
the staff members, the Public Defender
Commission hired the new defender,
Raymond T. Faller, and I announced that
my last day in the office would be at the
end of the month. On that last day, I had
the opportunity to thank the people in
the office for their service and dedication,
and I asked them to welcome the new de-
fender as warmly as they had welcomed
me.
At the close of business, I walked out
of the Public Defender’s Office and have
not gone back. I will always appreciate
and admire those who work in the office
and the challenging work that they do,
but I contently returned to Porter Wright
to continue the challenging legal work I
help clients with each day.
I will miss the people and unique
challenges that exist in a Public Defend-
er’s office. It was a special place for me to
learn and grow, but it is not my home. I
will always be grateful for that brief, 100
day “sabbatical” to another office, and
another world. Today, once again, I look
north, after having returned to my home
in private practice, hoping that my com-
patriots will realize the dreams that we
all have for the office where I spent the
summer of 2012. I pray that my detour to
the Public Defender’s Office has made a
difference to those who call it home each
day.
Johnson is a partner in Porter Wright Morris &
Arthur’s Cincinnati office. He chairs Porter Wright’s
white-collar defense and corporate investigations
practice group.
L e a v e a l e ga c y o f
hope
,
s e c u r e a b r i g h t
f uture
.
Encourage your clients to bring hope where there is despair,
love where there is loneliness and faith where there is emptiness.
To learn more about legacy gift opportunities with
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul contact Kate Farinacci,
Relationship Manager, at 513-562-8841 ext. 259.
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