STEPHEN ADAMS, ESQ. JENNA PINGITORE, ESQ. BARTON GILMAN LLP, PROVIDENCE
John Harnett grew up in the Bronx, working as an usher at Yankee Stadium for the Giants football games and as a toll collector on the Whitestone Bridge. He graduated from Fordham University in 1975 and went over the bridge to St. John's in Queens for law school. After law school, John worked briefly doing real estate litigation, but when his best friend from law school showed him a picture of his cousin, a woman who lived in Rhode Island, he was immediately intrigued. He drove straight to Rhode Island, met his future wife, and has been here ever since. John sat for the bar in Rhode Island and went to work for Raul Lovett, which started a fast-paced career of trying cases, mostly personal injury and workers' compensation. We had the opportunity to speak with this veteran trial lawyer. Excerpts from our conversation follow.
What made you decide to become a lawyer?
My father finished high school. But my mother didn't finish high school. I went to St. Barnabas Grammar School because the public schools in New York City in the Bronx were tough places. At St. Barnabas you wore a maroon blazer with the emblem on it, maroon tie, a white collar shirt, gray pants, black shoes. And, I had a briefcase. I'm, like, second grade. And my mother would say every day, "There goes my little lawyer." So by the time I got out of college it had been kind of drilled into me.
Please describe a really memorable experience that you had as a lawyer.
So a long time ago - Raul Lovett had a TV and radio show called Lovett Talks Law. And from the radio show, the active calling audience always wanted advice on inheritance tax. So I got a lot of calls on wills. And one day this elderly guy said he needed a will. He had a special needs son, a quadriplegic. And this happened because the son had an epileptic seizure while driving a van for the ACL So he was receiving workers' compensation. But what the father didn't know, he was entitled to loss of...