Maryland’s legal community lost an incredible member last week with the death of Robert J. Zarbin.
Bob was an exceptional trial attorney and spent a large part of his career in bar association leadership roles and lobbying for change in Annapolis. His obituary was shared on every lawyer listserv and Facebook group, several bar association bulletins and even the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission’s website.
Hundreds of friends, family members, legislators, and members of the Maryland bench and bar congregated Saturday in Baltimore to remember Bob. The gathering was so large, it filled one of the largest cathedrals in the United States.
Attorneys from both sides of the personal-injury field, as well as workers’ comp commissioners fondly shared stories about Bob over drinks at a local watering hole after the Mass. One of my favorite times with Bob was last fall, when he and I organized a happy hour in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during the MSBA Young Lawyers Summit. Because, you know, Bob was a young lawyer. He commandeered the bar and regaled us young lawyers with his hysterical anecdotes.
At the mere age of 56, Bob left an unbelievable legacy. His death makes you realize we are never too young to think more about our legacies. Your legacy is putting your stamp on the future. Your legacy as a lawyer is not just material things, but rather long-lasting contributions to the legal society. Being an attorney is not a job, instead it is a career and a way of life.
As a young lawyer, it is important to ask yourself: How will your clients and colleagues remember you? Will you be known as a zealous advocate for your client but also a professional and respectful opponent? Will you be known for your integrity and work ethic? Will younger lawyers and peers want to emulate the way you practice law?
Identify what is important to you and what you are most passionate about. You can only leave a mark on whatever area of law you are enthusiastic about. Pay attention and learn from other people’s war stories. Give advice and share your own war stories. Become a mentor to someone with similar passions. Attend legal education seminars or networking events with your mentee. Leave a legacy of leadership. Develop a plan to pass on your knowledge, wisdom and philosophy.
We should all strive to leave a legacy as rich as Bob’s.