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Frustrations are a chance to improve communication skills

Q&A with Lori Meyerhoffer of Raleigh

 

By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer

diana.smith@nc.lawyersweekly.com

 

Dr. Lori Meyerhoffer is an attorney with Yates, McLamb & Weyher in Raleigh. Also trained as a physician, Meyerhoffer focuses her practice on medical-malpractice defense and medical and nursing board defense.

Meyerhoffer began her professional life as an optometrist, graduating valedictorian from the University of Houston in 1990. She went on to receive her M.D. from the University of South Florida College of Medicine and, after nearly 10 years of active practice, decided to pursue a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Meyerhoffer continues to practice medicine on a limited basis and is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association, American Bar Association and the N.C. Bar Association. She currently serves on the MedicoLegal Liaison Committee of the NCBA. 

 

NCLW: Why did you want to become a lawyer?

Meyerhoffer: I was looking for alternative ways to use my medical education, training and experience. It seemed that medical-malpractice defense would provide the perfect outlet to use my medicine mind, give something back to my medical profession and continue to challenge myself daily. I have not been disappointed.

 

NCLW: What is the most frustrating experience you have had with a client, lawyer or judge?

Meyerhoffer: While I do not become frustrated often, I find that my more challenging experiences with clients, lawyers or judges are opportunities to improve my communication and negotiating skills.

 

NCLW: Who was your most influential professor in law school and why?

Meyerhoffer: Professor Ruth McKinney was the first faculty member I met as a first-year law student. She was in charge of the legal research and writing course as well as a mentor for more non-traditional students. Not only did she teach me how to conduct legal research and how to write “like a lawyer,” she was a wonderful role model in how to find the balance between work and life.

 

NCLW: What lessons did you learn as a result of the recession?

Meyerhoffer: It confirmed my belief that you always have to have a backup plan.

 

NCLW: What has been the hardest lesson that you have learned as an attorney?

Meyerhoffer: There have been many lessons I have learned through life – both as an attorney and a physician. Most importantly, always do your best and enjoy what you do.

 

NCLW: What is the most unusual thing on your desk or in your office?

Meyerhoffer: My daughter’s museum-framed interpretation of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” that she painted while she was in kindergarten and inspired by her visit to the Monet exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh.

 

NCLW: How do you think we could improve the lawyer disciplinary system?

Meyerhoffer: Prevention. In all self-disciplined professions, it is imperative to have a support system in place to prevent bad outcomes by ensuring adequate support during difficult times or with difficult decisions. The Bar does a fantastic job providing ethics opinions and promptly responding to ethical dilemmas that attorneys face daily.

 

NCLW: If you could write your own professional epitaph, what would it say?

Meyerhoffer: Remembered for all of her education and dedication, but her real accomplishments live on through her children.

 

NCLW: What is the strangest or funniest courtroom or mediation gaffe that you have seen?

Meyerhoffer: Because I was an optometrist prior to medical school and law school, I have the opportunity to defend many ophthalmology claims. I am always entertained by the plaintiff who describes exactly what they “cannot see.”

 

NCLW: What is the CLE you would most like to see offered? Feel free to be serious or fanciful.

Meyerhoffer: I cannot imagine there are any additional CLE topics that are not currently offered given the number of CLE advertisements I receive daily!

 

NCLW: What do you think is the most important attribute for a good attorney to have?

Meyerhoffer: Regardless of your profession, the most important attribute is to continually strive to do your absolute best. It helps if you are also fortunate enough to truly enjoy what you do.

 

NCLW: Whose job in the legal field would you most like to have and why?

Meyerhoffer: Mine. I love what I do.

 

NCLW: Which job would you not want to have and why?

Meyerhoffer: Personal injury attorney. I could not sit on the opposite side of the courtroom against my colleagues in the medical profession.

 

NCLW: Is specialization necessary? Why or why not?

Meyerhoffer: Law is similar to medicine in this regard. I believe there will always be a role for the general internal medicine physician but not to the exclusion of cardiologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists and other specialists. The specialist cannot practice general internal medicine as well as a general internist. The best person for any job really depends upon what is at issue and whether it requires a narrow niche of knowledge. Likewise, there is a place for both general attorneys and specialists in law.

 

NCLW: Does the media do a good job of covering legal issues?

Meyerhoffer: The mainstream media successfully distills many complex legal issues into 30-second sound bites that laypeople can understand rather effectively.

 

NCLW: If you could look into the future and see a law practice, what would be the most striking difference between then and now?

Meyerhoffer: An even greater use of technology to reduce the amount of travel.

 

NCLW: Does North Carolina have too many law schools and an oversupply of lawyers?

Meyerhoffer: This same question is asked in medical education. I believe the free-market concept of supply and demand prevents an over- or under-supply of all professionals over time.

 

Editor’s note: If you would like to participate in a Q&A interview, contact Diana Smith at diana.smith@
nc.lawyersweekly.com.

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