This is the inscription found on the front of the courthouse of the New York County Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street. The quote comes from a letter George Washington wrote to the Attorney General in 1789. This remains both an inspiration to me as an attorney and a challenge to the court system in general, which continues to strive today, as it has for more than 300 years, to provide justice to the public of this great City and State.
For me, striving for justice is more than an abstract or professional goal and the administration of justice is more than a pillar of good government. It is an intensely personal goal and an integral part of my family identity. I say this as a 3rd generation attorney following in the footsteps of my grandfather Leo Zivin, who graduated from St. John’s Law School in 1933 (only to practice for 10 years before being drafted to bravely serve in the Army in World War II), and my father Morris Handler, who is still in practice and now takes words of legal wisdom from his oldest son!
As a little boy, when I was off from school, I would regularly go to work with my dad and visit the New York City courthouses, including the one at 60 Centre Street. Even back then, walking up the courthouse steps filled me with a sense of wonder. Today as an attorney the inscription there has acquired a much deeper significance, and has become integral to the way I approach my legal practice. Walking into the courthouse, having been retained by a client who has been injured through the fault of someone else, I feel compelled to do everything in my power to make sure that I obtain justice for my client. As a personal injury litigator, I can best serve justice by obtaining the largest possible monetary compensation for my injured clients and their families. A negligent party cannot restore my client’s health or put them back to work. The only remedy available is monetary compensation and that is my relentless goal.
The words of George Washington never fail to move me each time I walk past this beautiful building in downtown Manhattan. It’s a bit like renewing your wedding vows. As I head up the stairs into the courthouse at 60 Centre Street, I feel a recommitment and renewed sense of purpose to make sure I do the best I possibly can for my clients.