Everybody’s heard the line from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, Part 2” that says, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Woven into those words is the suggestion that qualities inherent to attorneys qualify them for targeting—even though research has shown that the Bard was most likely emphasizing that lawyers are the protectors of the rule of law. After all, the character that utters the now famous aspersion works for the leader of a group of rebels.
Some lawyers go far beyond protecting the rule of law, and Cramer & Anderson Associate Christopher Sochacki, who joined the firm last June and works in the Litchfield office, can be proudly counted among them—and not simply because he traded in a successful career handling insurance defense work for a role more like that of a “country lawyer” who helps “people around town sort out their problems.”
In addition to handling civil litigation cases that primarily fall into the personal injury and workers’ compensation categories, Attorney Sochacki plays a role that’s as critical and dramatic as anything on a TV rescue drama.
A certified EMT and Paramedic, Attorney Sochacki works part-time for New Britain Emergency Medical Services and volunteers in multiple roles in New Hartford, where he lives with his wife, Julie, and sons Brandon and Sean.
“My kids and my wife appreciate that I do this. It’s a good service. It’s my way of feeling that I’m giving back,” Attorney Sochacki says, explaining that both his move to Cramer & Anderson and his work in the emergency services field represent the fulfillment of a need to make more of a difference for people.
While he works one shift in New Britain every couple of weeks, Attorney Sochacki is deeply involved in serving the Farmington River town he calls home, where he is the Deputy Director Of Emergency Management, and the treasurer and a member of the board of New Hartford Volunteer Ambulance.
Attorney Sochacki’s volunteer service with the ambulance corps requires at least one 12-hour shift a month, and as a first responder he’s on the front lines of local emergencies. Outfitted with a pager, a radio at home and even a “jump bag” emergency kit, he says, “I respond and get there before the ambulance does and begin providing care.”
That can be intense.
Attorney Sochacki recalls one incident that remains imprinted on his memory: “It had been a really busy day for New Hartford,” he said in relating how a father called 911 from his vehicle, saying his son had been hurt in a bike accident and he was driving the youth to the hospital.
“He’s in a lot of pain,” the man said of his son, “I think I need an ambulance.” When Attorney Sochacki arrived first at the location of the Jeep Cherokee, the father was frantic, saying, “My son’s in the back and really needs help.”
“The youth’s legs were shattered,” Attorney Sochacki said. “One of his arteries had been cut. I heard the kid actually made this miraculous recovery. We ultimately saved his life that day.”
“It’s a definite perspective builder. It makes you appreciate what you have,” Attorney Sochacki said of his volunteer work in New Hartford and part-time role in New Britain.
It was his perspective that brought the attorney to Cramer & Anderson. He was working with a national law firm as an insurance defense litigator. “I would represent anybody who was sued,” he said, which meant dealing mostly with insurance companies and not much with the actual clients.
“I felt like I wasn’t making a difference for individuals. I was working more for institutions,” Attorney Sochacki said. The day-to-day reality didn’t correlate with the personal “why” factor in his career role.
Meanwhile, about seven or eight years ago, he had interacted as part of a case with Cramer & Anderson partner Barry Moller, who was working in the Litchfield office.
“I just loved the feel of the firm, and respected how they did things,” said Attorney Sochacki, who recalled thinking, “If I ever got the opportunity to test the other side, I would want to do it here.”
When the opportunity arose to join Cramer & Anderson and help to grow the firm’s civil litigation business, “I jumped at it,” he said.
In the time he’s been with the firm, Attorney Sochacki has handled homeowners’ disputes with insurance companies, and represented a law firm that had breach of contract dispute with an IT provider. In one current case, he’s representing a homeowner on remodeling project that completely went awry.
His practice also focuses on personal injury, product liability, medical malpractice, real estate errors and omissions, professional malpractice, and employers’ liability and discrimination. Attorney Sochacki has extensive litigation experience in fire and explosion litigation, emergency management and emergency response consultation and litigation.
“As a lawyer, I don’t take every single case,” he says, but on the other side of that equation are lots of people who have legitimate cases but never approach an attorney, including some who simply “feel fortunate and blessed that they’re not hurt worse.”
“There are a lot of people out there who are wronged but they simply can’t afford to get a lawyer involved necessarily,” Attorney Sochacki said. “To a lot of people it’s a cost benefit analysis. They think, ‘Maybe I’m out $5,000 but it’s going to cost me more to get a result.’”
The bottom line is that anyone who feels wronged should consult with an attorney to discuss the options. “Insurance is there for a reason. The system is here for a reason,” Attorney Sochacki said. “It’s there to provide you compensation for your troubles, for your pain.”
When cases do go forward, there’s something important to realize, and Attorney Sochacki keeps a synthesis of this truism in the form of a quote from the late Simon H. Rifkind, a celebrated attorney and former Federal District Court Judge.
“I hold onto it almost as reality check,” the attorney says of the quote, which says, “The object of a trial is not the ascertainment of truth, but the resolution of a controversy by the principled application of the rules of the game.”
Not only do attorneys safeguard the rule of law, as Shakespeare understood, but they’re also the experts who know the rules of the game in legal proceedings.
Attorney Sochacki can be reached in the Litchfield office of Cramer & Anderson—the regional firm with five offices serving western Connecticut—at (860) 567-8718. His email is mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.