Faces of Mentoring - Patricia A. Hemann, Magistrate Judge

Patricia A. Hemann“Counsel, we will be in recess while I read the cases you have cited.” He read the cases, every one of them. He read every slip opinion before handing it to me to read and index for his files. He never raised his voice, yet the courtroom was a model of decorum. Every person who entered Third Floor East was treated with dignity and respect. No one was above the law. The less sophisticated the litigant, the more time spent explaining the process. He loved the law, “the business of judging” as he called it. He loved the process - from reading the briefs, to researching the law, to mastering the facts, to writing the opinions. He loved the legal advocacy over which he presided, and he loved what he called the “ebb and flow of humanity” he observed every day in his courtroom and as he traveled to and from his courtroom. He was the embodiment of a Federal Judge, and I was so fortunate to have him as my mentor. The Honorable William K. Thomas, District Judge, N.D. Ohio (Deceased).

“Sure, you can do it. But where's it going to get you?” I must admit it took me longer than it should have to learn a lesson from that wise question. A brand new upstart associate right out of a clerkship where I had learned every civil procedure trick in the book, I was ready to show the partner with whom I was working how clever I could be. Moreover, opposing counsel was particularly irksome. So “fight fire with fire” seemed to be a logical approach. My mentor partner was in his 50's, fatherly, never raised his voice, thought best while smoking his pipe. Mine was the usual associate role: research and draft the motions, briefs and discovery. But I had ideas of tactical motions and discovery maneuvering and briefing filled with outrage. Harry Nestor met my ideas with, “Sure, you can do it. But where's it going to get you?” and my expressions of outrage in a brief with a red pen. I learned that his was the professional way to practice law. Long after his death Harry's very wise lessons were passed on by me to associates (and now are heard by law students). Harry D. Nestor, partner, Hahn, Loeser, Friedheim, Dean & Wellman (now Hahn, Loeser + Parks) (Deceased).