Episode 129 — Eric Chaffin — Doing Good by Doing Right
True game changers aren’t the ones who merely talk about the right thing. They’re the ones who do the right thing. They get out in the world and make a difference.
The same goes for your law firm. If you don’t have people who truly believe in doing the right thing every time, your team won’t be aligned around the right mission.
Luckily for (and we might say in part because of) Eric Chaffin, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Chaffin Luhana, his firm doesn’t have that issue.
In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Michael and Eric sit down to discuss:
- How the firm’s motto “Doing Good By Doing Right” came about
- The importance of having a team who believes in the firm’s vision
- Why empathy differentiates great trial attorneys from good ones
Doing good by doing right. “If you want to say ‘doing good by doing right,’ you’ve got to live by it. You’ve got to actually follow that path and, and walk that walk. We do that as a firm; we make a conscious decision about what we’re going to invest our time and money into, and then we go in and we do it. And that’s something that I think we’re very proud of.”
The voice for the people. “From an early age, I understood what it meant to not have a voice. I knew what it meant to not feel like you could go to someone and seek help and get help from others. So I took that. I took those feelings and I really turned them into a drive to go help others. That’s what motivated me to go to law school and motivated me to be a federal prosecutor. It pushed me to be my very best at times, so I could be the best I could be for my clients — the government for the victims of the government I represented. It really defined my sense of justice in this world and really what my firm’s about today.”
Pressure makes diamonds. “My father gave me a book, The Magic of Thinking Big, and it really taught me to dream, and to really look beyond my circumstances. I took it to heart. My dad was a very poor kid in Western Pennsylvania growing up. He used to have one pair of pants he’d wash each day before he went to school cuz he just couldn’t afford anything more. He’d collect pop bottles alongside the road and kids would throw stuff at him. I took those stories and internalized them to myself and used it to motivate myself at times — so probably Michael, I’m sure you could relate to this, that just sort of immigrant journey. Roopal, who’s my law partner, had a very similar situation. We internalize and we start looking for financial security and so it really drives you for success, but at the same time I think it can drive you too far. I’ve certainly had points in my life that happen, but it definitely gave me a drive.”
Life’s greatest lessons. “The great thing about the US Attorney’s office is that you go and you become a prosecutor who can stand on their feet and argue cases and connect with jurors. The jurors looked much different than how I grew up. I grew up in a very gentrified, white West Virginia, then went to Brooklyn, New York where there’s a lot of minorities and I had to learn how to really talk and become someone a little bit different actually in working with those jurors, which I think is an important life lesson.”
The importance of giving. “As leaders, we have to work on ourselves and be able to face outward. And I think once we take care of ourselves individually, then the team members take care of the clients, then clients take care of the firm. But more broadly than that, if you take care of the community, the community will take care of the firm as well. But if you give with the expectation of receiving, it just doesn’t come, so you just have to give wholeheartedly.”
What does being a game changer mean to you? “I think there are a lot of people who see the changes in our industry, for example, but what are they actually doing about it? Do they have the courage to actually embrace what’s happening and to make a difference in the movement? Or do they step back and just be on the sidelines? It’s just the courage to challenge and see where the market’s going and actually affecting the status quo is really what it means to be a game changer.”
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