Robert Dittman: Following His Dream
Robert Dittman is a solo practitioner in San Antonio. His areas of focus are criminal defense, family law, and estate law. A U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist, he also works as a Legal Assistance Attorney in the Legal Affairs Office.
Before law school, Dittman worked as an assistive Technology Trainer at the San Antonio Lighthouse. Although he liked his job, he wanted to have more of an impact in people’s lives. One night, he dreamed that he was an attorney. The next day, he told his girlfriend (now wife) that he was going to law school.
While attending St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Dittman soon realized that his lack of braille skills was having an adverse impact on his academic performance. Braille offers a complete command of written language to individuals who are blind. So he decided to work on his skills, and believes that doing so has been vital to being a successful lawyer. “A weakness is only a weakness if you do nothing to improve it.”
Dittman credits his attendance at St. Mary’s to increasing its awareness of the technology needs of blind students. During his second year, St. Mary’s purchased a braille embossor, a refreshable braille display, and a desktop computer and flatbed scanner, along with all required software.
When choosing where to open his law office, Dittman looked at locations in close proximity to the courthouse and where more experienced attorneys had their offices. He found a building just two blocks from the courthouse that has 40 attorneys. He has several mentors and walks down the hall if he needs guidance on a legal issue. Dittman recommends choosing a technology that works for you and knowing how to use it before opening a practice. From day one, he was able to create template pleadings, forms, and motions.
For the most part, Dittman has found that judges have been very open to having a blind attorney in their court, as have opposing counsel. He navigates life and his career with a sense of humor. To make the judge and opposing counsel feel comfortable, he often introduces himself by saying, “Hello your Honor, true justice is blind and here I am.”
Dittman is married to Dr. Mary Kate Lawler, a veterinarian. His hobbies include amateur radio, military history, writing, performing live, and recording traditional Irish pub music. He has recorded three albums.