October 01, 2009

October 2009: J. Patrick Glynn, Esq.

Senior attorney with hearing impairment proud advocate for legal profession and lawyers with impairments.

Not only does J. Patrick Glynn, Esq. have many years of experience under his belt as a government attorney, but he has a myriad of accomplishments over that span to show how he uses his legal and managerial skills to better the country and the legal profession. In addition to championing his profession, currently as Director of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division’s Environmental Torts Section, Pat makes sure that lawyers with disabilities are properly recognized as an important part of the legal community.

Pat was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in both of his ears at the age of 19. It was attributed to nerve damage from a childhood disease. Since that time, he wears hearing aids on both of his ears. At work he is provided with assistive hearing devices for his phone, a portable assistive hearing device for conferences and meetings, and he uses assistive hearing devices found in courtrooms. He says, however, that the most important accommodation that anyone can provide to him is simple patience and a willingness to see a lawyer, not a lawyer who happens to have an impairment.

A graduate of Indiana University School of Law, Pat has been practicing law for almost 40 years. During that time he was a Missouri state prosecutor and attorney for the Justice Department. While with the Justice Department, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney, Trial Attorney, Chief of the Antitrust Division, Director of the Office of Consumer Litigation, and the first Director of the Tobacco Litigation Team. His awards for service are numerous, including the Presidential Rank Award as Meritorious Executive and Special Commendation Awards from DOJ’s Civil and Anti Trust Divisions. As Director of DOJ’s Environmental Torts Section, Pat develops and implements legal positions defending the U.S. government from environmental tort litigation. He directs several legal teams who appear in administrative, district, and appellate courts throughout the country.

In addition to his seasoned legal skills, Pat has gained success and acclaim through motivation derived from his love of the legal profession. Pat has been a proud member of the American Bar Association, the country’s oldest and largest organization for lawyers, since law school. He also defends the profession from the stereotypical jokes thrown at it. “Today, unfortunately, much of the public view the legal profession’s purpose to ‘get people off [from their crimes or lawsuits]’ or to ‘get money for undeserving plaintiffs,’” he noted, “not so long ago the legal industry’s undisputed image was one of civility, nobility, and intellectualism. I am not saying the profession has lost these characteristics, but the public certainly views lawyers with less respect now than they did a mere three decades ago.”

Pat also supports the profession by training new attorneys that come in through his section’s honors program. An important sentiment he imparts to new attorneys, as well as those he comes into contact with on a daily basis, is that lawyers with impairments are not necessarily “disabled.” “I like to think that attorneys with impairments don’t have ‘disabilities,’ but rather ‘relative-abilities’” he stated, “these lawyers may have less of an ability to do a certain something—such as seeing, hearing, instant comprehension, etc.—but they certainly tend to have stronger abilities in other areas. Therefore, attorneys with ‘relative-abilities’ should be valued no less than those without impairments.”