5 Questions for Rhode Island Attorney Mike Bottaro:
What led you to law school?
I suppose it was a combination of wanting to challenge myself coupled with the people who influenced me instilling notions of fair play and justice.
Who were some of these influences?
Well, my mom and dad. Both instilled the power of education and hard work in all three of their boys. They took us to church from an early age and saved so that we could attend catholic high school and then a Jesuit college, Boston College.
Were there certain characters or books that stand out?
From high school on, it was To Kill A Mockingbird. Who didn’t admire Atticus Finch? I think that is where the ideas of fighting against injustice and inequality germinated. Also, his line about needing to feel like you are “walking around in another’s skin” before you can get to know them is so powerful. It is that trait that I admire in mentors, other trial lawyers – taking the time and effort to get to know our injured clients, those who have suffered personal injuries, is critical to obtaining justice for them.
What kind of cases would Atticus take on today?
I’m not sure Atticus would seek out fortune or fame. I think he was a family man who enjoyed living in a ministry. When he came across racial inequality, he just did what he felt was morally right, although, like other great lawyers, it was not always a popular choice. But Atticus was definitely a trial lawyer. I do not think he could have represented cold corporations like big insurance companies. Atticus would be a vocal supporter of the 7th Amendment right to trial by jury and opponent of tort reform or other roadblocks to access to the courthouse for real people, like personal injury victims. He would probably be President of the organizations I support, like the American Association for Justice!
What is your favorite scene from To Kill A Mockingbird?
The entire story! But seriously, as a Warwick personal injury lawyer all of the courtroom scenes, of course, depicting Atticus’s courage, his preparedness, and his professionalism. But also the scenes when Atticus is teaching the children about good and evil with the rabid dog and about getting to know people. It is all powerful stuff.