Interviews



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N.E. NEDZEL AN IDEAL LAWYER IS SOMEONE WHO LISTENS CAREFULLY

13.01.14 11:27

Who did you dream to become when you were a child? Have your dreams came true?

When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a famous ballerina, like Anna Pavlova.  While I never became a famous ballerina, not only did I realize my dream of becoming a dancer, I also realized a better dream that I never thought I would have:  to become a law professor (the BEST job in the world!)

How did you earn your first money?

My first paycheck , in the amount of $25, I earned at the age of 9 for dancing the part of a mouse/page in Sleeping Beauty as produced by the Allegro American Ballet Company, a Chicago offshoot of the Royal Ballet of England.

When did you decide to become a lawyer?

I decided to become an attorney at the age of 36, when I realized that  in order to support my two children and (hopefully) inspire them to succeed, I would need to earn more than I could earn as a ballroom dancer and instructor (my previous profession).  My daughter is now becoming a doctor, and my son is a professional guitarist/composer.  So I’ve achieve my primary aim with regard to them._

If lawyers became banned, what would you do?

If lawyers were banned, I’d probably do two things:  1) find a way to continue being a scholar and educator, and 2) become a fierce advocate for repealing the ban.

What was the most unusual action you made in your life?

Becoming an attorney was probably the most unusual action in my life, because there are no attorneys in my family.  My father’s family (from Odessa/Tiraspol) were scientists and pathologists, my mother’s  (from Moscow) were artists and jewelers.

What is the most prominent feature of your temper?

The most prominent feature of my temper is probably my ability to remain calm.  Except for computer problems (which make me REALLY angry), my first instinct is to focus my anger on solving whatever problem is facing me and avoiding hurting other people as much as possible in the process.

Who or what inspires you?

The Founding of the United States inspires me.  While in law school, I was lucky enough to study the ideas that inspired our Constitution and why the Founders believed in them.  Combining that with my undergraduate interest in comparative cultures (French, Spanish, Russian) provides me with a fertile field for my legal scholarship.

What are three things you cannot live without?

I cannot live without my family, books to read, fresh food and time to prepare a nice meal with  and for friends and family.

What is the most difficult thing in life?

Aging is the most difficult thing in life.  It’s not for sissies.

What do you like in everyday life?

In everyday life, I like teaching my law students, researching and writing legal scholarship, dancing, and spending time with my husband and family on vacation in the South of France – not necessarily in that order.

What is the best pursuit on Friday night?

The best pursuit on Friday night is going ballroom dancing.

Describe in a few words an ideal lawyer?

An ideal lawyer is a problem solver, whether his focus is on litigation or transaction. An ideal lawyer is someone who listens carefully to his or her clients’ needs, considers the law and legal system carefully and then counsels them wisely according to what is best for them (the clients), fighting fiercely for his clients’ rights when it is appropriate to do so.  He is also someone who will counsel his client to put aside his anger and resolve a dispute amicably when that is what would be best for all concerned, and he’s someone who can find ways to help his client do so.

How Law should be taught?

Law should be taught  in a way that requires students to learn actively, not passively, about the law and lawyers’ work.  Thus, Socratic dialogue should be used in class so that students discuss, analyze, and develop their knowledge and understanding of the law, and law school should also include experiential learning, so that law students learn what lawyers actually do and how the law actually works, not just theory about law. 

What was the most complimentary comment on your work?

Re scholarship:  Being invited to participate in a Symposium on the Rule of Law and present my article to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

Re teaching: Recently, one of my graduating students told me that I taught her how to read critically as well as how to write well about the law, and as a result though she started in the middle of the class, she graduated at the top. What helped her most was my book, “Legal Reading, Researching, and Writing for International Students”, which is used in the U.S. and around the world.  It has been translated into Chinese, and I have even been told that book has made me ‘famous’ in Afghanistan!

Is there any skill you do not have but would like to?

My French is pretty good because I go there often, but I would like to be more fluent in both Russian and Spanish.  While my parents spoke Russian at home and I studied it for three years at the university level, I am not fluent.  I also studied Spanish for the same length of time and have  taught in Spanish-speaking countries – but I end up teaching in ‘Spanglish,’ not Spanish.

What is the most valuable thing you can buy for money?

Time with your family and loved ones is the most valuable thing you can buy for money.

What would you like to do after the next 10 years?

For at least the next ten years, I would like to continue as a law professor.  After that, who knows? I’ll see what God has in mind for me.

What would you wish to young lawyers?

My wish for young lawyers is that they enjoy their career half as much as I have already:  I’ve been a clerk to a very important judge, a practitioner of admiralty and international trade law, and a law professor.  I found each to be exciting and fulfilling.  If you don’t enjoy what you do, then change it.  Have the courage to take risks and trust your intelligence and work ethic to lead you to a field you enjoy.





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