by Joel M. Nomberg, Of Counsel, The Nomberg Law Firm

Time flies.  How appropriate is this axiom when your two lawyer sons in Birmingham remind you that on April 4, 2017, I will celebrate 50 years as a member of the Alabama State Bar.

This milestone encompasses so many memories and changes; from a class of 17 with only one woman and no minorities to a State Bar recognized with international prestige.  This enduring journey has transcended from the demurrer to E-filing; yet some judges still do not trust that system and keep written file copies of pleadings in their offices.

The older group of us will always recall the “unprofessional” admonition of advertising.  Professor Harry Cohen considered such conduct as being the “Cardinal Sin.”  The evolution of advertising now allows billboards, mass television and radio appeals and even direct telephone calls or e-mails to potential clients.  A number of law firms even publish their own monthly magazines which tout their accomplishments to current and prospective clients.

Even the approach of trying a matter has evolved from the Saturday call to court in rural Dale County by a non-lawyer Justice of the Peace to sitting in open court with a laptop filled with case law to instantly making a legal point with the trial judge or opposing counsel.  No more carts of Alabama Reporters are brought into court.

Though still limited in its application, most law firms were proud to be known as a “general practice.”  Specialization to a finite degree is now a must.  Today most young lawyers are directed to a special field and many have never appeared in a criminal or domestic relations courtroom setting.

Whereas in recent past lawyers were a “do it yourself” practice, now those lawyers have a small army of staff personnel to get them to a courtroom.  On one occasion very early in my traveled history, the Honorable Circuit Judge Eris Paul of Coffee County invited me into his office, which was a part time courtroom, and said to me, “Son, have a seat and we will prove it on you.”

An important change during this time was the evolution politically of judges and district attorneys running under a political party.  In the past, almost all such were Democrats, usually re-elected over and over and either died or retired in office.  Running opposed for a judge position was unheard of.  Nothing herein is a criticism; it is just 50 years of reflecting on changes.

Our oath of becoming a lawyer has not changed; it calls upon each of us to serve the law for the people and be honest with all we deal with.  From the older lawyers we learned and appreciated that your word was your bond.  This is important in such that I felt this was always true and I sincerely hope this continues because “winning at all cost is not winning.”

These 50 years have been good to me because I have met and worked with many wonderful and great legal minds as professors, lawyers, judges and mediators, along with continuing legal education; these have all been positive experiences.  It is still good to hear the term “practicing law.”

Though not as a lawyer, but as a combat veteran, I served the District Court Judge of Baldwin County, Alabama, the Honorable Michelle Thompson presiding.  I served as the Mentor Coordinator for 15 mentors helping veterans with their criminal charges.  The purpose of the program is to guide, with the court and mentors, any Veteran participant in resolving their infractions with the court system. This is truly rewarding work for me.

I am very proud of my two lawyer sons Bernard and David.  I appreciate and thank everyone that I have come in contact with through the legal profession and know that it has enabled me to be a better lawyer and help clients while reminding me of my oath.  Being a Lawyer is truly a noble profession.

Joel M. Nomberg celebrates 50 years as a member of the Alabama State Bar this month. He will receive his Fifty Year Certificate and Fifty Year Pin this summer at the Alabama State Bar’s Annual Meeting.  He serves as Of Counsel to the Nomberg Law Firm.

[1] Tempus fugit, Latin for “time flies”

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Steve Altmann has been assisting consumers and business owners with bankruptcy matters for more than 27 years. 

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