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Lawyer looks back over his first year as a columnist

This is my first-anniversary column. My first column a year ago, ‘It’s Not About Screwing The Insurance Company,’ was published Jan. 7, 2007.

It all started when a very good friend, an advertising consultant with the Capital News, suggested I submit a few sample columns to the editor for his consideration.

I had no experience as a writer, outside of demand letters and dry legal briefs but those first drafts easily rolled off my typing fingers.

As I started writing, I started getting excited. One of my passions is fighting unfairness. Perhaps that’s what led me into the practice of law.

In the context of my personal injury practice, I have come across a lot of unfairness.

One injustice becomes evident to anyone who hires a lawyer to enforce their legal rights.

It is the unfortunate public perception that such people are greedy fakers. I know, through my personal injury practice, that this perception could not be further from the truth.

Sure, every barrel has a bad apple, but that wormy, distasteful piece of work is not representative of the rest of the barrel.

Another injustice arises from crash victims being in the dark about their legal rights and being actively discouraged from consulting a lawyer to find out what those rights are.

What a tremendous opportunity I was facing. I was being offered a public venue where I could actively fight those two areas of injustice, as well as others.

I faced the prospect of being able to make a difference: not just for my clients, but for anyone out there who has been at the raw end of another driver’s negligence, and insurance company tactics.

It felt like forever before the editor gave me the thumbs up and started publishing my work.

And here I am, a year later. I can’t say it has been all easy all the time.

The weekly deadlines come mighty quickly, and there have been many evenings when I have had to anxiously brainstorm my next column topic.

Even when the words roll off the fingers, it takes me an average of two to three hours to finalize a column.

Over the course of the year, that’s the equivalent of more than two weeks at full time hours.

That’s time that I could otherwise have been spending with my young family or working on the backlog of work at the office.

The thing is, I am still excited. My passion for this column has not faded and I have my readers to thank for keeping the fire going.

They have provided such positive reinforcement.

My message has struck a chord. But I can’t really take much credit for that. It is a message of truth and justice. I’m just delivering it.

Thank you for all the support. Thank you also to the fine people at The Capital News, particularly my editor, Al Waters.

A special thank you is owed to my family, particularly my wife, for being so tolerant about my sometimes appearing like a self-absorbed schmuck.

Please help me to ensure that my column remains relevant.

Let me know if there are topics that you feel should be addressed.

Please also provide whatever other feedback, good or bad, that you might have to offer.

If you are new to reading my column, I invite you to check out my web site where I have archived all of my published columns: www. hergottlaw.ca I haven’t yet had the need to recycle my column topics, and I covered many important issues in the last year.

I wish you all the very, very best in 2008. And remember, the very best claim is no claim at all.

Drive defensively.

Published January 6, 2008 in the Kelowna Capital News

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