Up to the task


Malpractice attorney helps clients 'speak up, be heard'

By Debra Talcott
Legal News

Earlier this year, Johnson Law attorney Jody Aaron became a source of pride for the firm where she has practiced since 2012. Aaron was one of 18 members of the Oakland County bar who traveled to Washington, D.C to take the oath that allows an attorney to practice before our nation's highest court.

Admission to the United States Supreme Court bar is selective, requiring that an attorney has practiced a minimum of three years and has maintained a spotless disciplinary record. Each candidate also must have letters of support from two current members of the Supreme Court bar. Aaron's personal recommendations came from Euel Kinsey and Karen Safran, both of whom were admitted previously.

"I am proud of this achievement and delighted to have had the opportunity to look up at that bench and know that I was becoming a part of such an awesome legacy where some of the greatest legal minds of our country had been," says Aaron. "It was a surprisingly moving experience for me to be in that court and addressed by the justices."

A Detroit native who now resides in Southfield, Aaron specializes in medical malpractice litigation on behalf of patients and their families.

"I feel very lucky to have found this area of practice," says Aaron. "The caliber of attorneys I deal with in my practice, including the defense bar, is exceptional. The content is challenging, but most importantly, we allow victims of malpractice to be heard and to impact the systems of justice and medicine. The important result for my clients is often not really the money damages-no amount of money can heal many of the clients that I represent-but the chance to speak up and be heard and acknowledged as having been wrongfully injured. Their individual claim can and has, on occasion, resulted in the doctors and hospital reevaluating and changing the way they do things so that the particular problem does not occur again."

Aaron says many of her clients are primarily interested in making sure what happened to them never occurs to another patient or family.

"That is generally the principal motivate that brings folks into my office. That, and not being able to get a straight answer from their health care provider about what went wrong and why."

Aaron sees her career choice as "falling into" the practice of law as opposed to following a lifelong goal. Yet she feels fortunate to have found a profession that thoroughly suits her.

"I was always the kid that was fighting battles for others and sticking my nose in where I thought somebody was being treated unfairly and needed a voice, so I guess I was destined to join the bar as a voice for others, and particularly victims of wrongdoing. I was very lucky to find a clerking position with a prominent medical malpractice law firm while still in law school. The additional element of having medicine and science involved in my practice has kept it very interesting and challenging for all of these years because no two cases are ever the same."

A litigator for more than 30 years, Aaron continues to be the voice for victims who need representation. She is chair of the State Bar Negligence Section, and she serves on numerous Oakland County Bar Association committees.

"I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to be working with the State Bar Negligence Section for these past several years and very much look forward to chairing that committee this year. This is one of the very few lawyer groups that enlists the efforts and talents of both plaintiff and defense attorneys to work together to advance the interests of negligence law and the sanctity of the jury trial."

Aaron has found many of the cases she has argued very rewarding, but she says the highest satisfaction comes from winning cases that have involved catastrophically-injured children.

"By securing a significant recovery, I have been able to not only provide immediate financial resources to the child and family but to allow parents peace of mind in knowing that their child will be taken care of for their lifetime, even if the parents are no longer around to help."

One particular case involved a young woman who had suffered significant paralyzing injuries and, until her settlement, had been living in a house that was not wheelchair accessible and did not even have a ramp to the front door.

"Her day-to-day existence had become quite humiliating for her," says Aaron. "With the recovery I obtained for her, she was provided financial security for life and had the resources to make her house a place where she could finally be comfortable and live a more independent, self-sufficient life."

Like other dedicated attorneys, Aaron has learned to take a break from the intensity of her work from time to time.

"I love to cook and garden and enjoy time up north at our cottage in Lewiston. And I enjoy contributing to Yad Ezra and other Oakland County food bank efforts."

Family time at the cottage finds Aaron sharing relaxing moments with her husband of 27 years, attorney Jack Holmes, who specializes in criminal law and is very involved in the Oakland County Treatment Courts. The couple has three successful children, Sarah, Josh, and Jordan, all of whom are teachers.

"Josh and Jordan work with children with special needs, as I did before attending law school," says Aaron.

Had she not become an advocate for others through the law, Aaron says we might find her working as a university professor of special education instead.

While many people look to the future and wistfully ponder the day they can retire, Aaron is perfectly content to stay on her current path.

"I love where I am and what I'm doing," she says. "Though it has become increasingly difficult and frustrating over the years because of the perpetual interference with our ability to obtain a fair resolution of these claims by our legislature and judiciary that continue to place hurdles designed to keep medical malpractice victims out of the courts and to unfairly limit their opportunity for fair recovery, I still enjoy the challenge."

Published: Tue, Dec 09, 2014