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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: August 2023 | Where to Live

Member Spotlight: Eric Y. Drogin

Eric York Drogin


  • Eric Drogin has a "hybrid career" blending law and psychology, which provides a dynamic and diverse work experience.
  • Eric highlights a memorable moment of being sworn in before all nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, thanks to his involvement with the Senior Lawyers Division (SLD).
  • Eric emphasizes the importance of genuine passion for the legal profession when considering law school and discuss the gender diversification and changes in solo legal practice throughout his career.
Member Spotlight: Eric Y. Drogin
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Tell us a little bit about your career.

I have what one could call a “hybrid career,” like so many of the new friends I’ve made since joining the SLD. 

Hybrid careers typically happen in one of two ways.  Some lawyers decide that the best way to assist their professional clients is, in effect, to become one of them.  For others, becoming a lawyer is the predictable extension of a desire to advocate for one’s primary profession or professional colleagues.

Then there are those of us who, like me, are snatched from the undergraduate cradle and enlisted in “dual degree” programs that school us in two professions at once—in my case, both law and psychology.  Who knows what makes such grandiose schemes attractive to rootless 20-somethings?  When I figure this out I’ll establish a diagnostic label for the condition and then make a living suing someone else for letting it happen. 

Whatever it is I think I’m doing, I’m never bored, because every day is different.  I conduct forensic evaluations, serve as a trial consultant, teach law at the medical school, teach psychology at the law school, write about teaching, teach about writing, and haunt professional committees that come up with ideas about what it all means.  Is it work?  Sometimes it looks more like a collection of things we do when we’ve finally decided to abandon our day jobs.  Whatever it is, I love it.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Surely it was being sworn in this June before all nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, thanks to the SLD.  I kept pinching myself until I saw that the security guards were starting to reach for their holsters.  There’s been enough drama surrounding the Court these days without my needing to become a part of it. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to join the SLD’s Supreme Court Trip, stop dithering.  It’s a blast from beginning to end.  You can even bring a date!  I can’t hook you up, but I’ll sign your member endorsement form.

If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, but things wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well.  The sheer randomness of my legal career is one of its few distinguishing features.  Going back and trying to do things the way I currently think they should have been done sounds like a recipe for disaster.  Learning from mistakes was critically important, as was occasionally falling in with the wrong crowd.  Too much careful planning would have filled my head with counterproductive ideas, and I never would have gotten anything done at all.

What advice would you give to someone considering law school today?

That one’s easy: “don’t go to law school unless you literally can’t imagine doing anything else.” 

Right around the time I started, it seemed that every ethics CLE was required to include a wellness component placing legal practice on a self-destructive par with sniffing glue and running with scissors.  Yes, being an attorney is a demanding job, but it’s a career, not a carcinogen. 

The point isn’t that lawyering is bad, but rather that lawyering when you realize you never wanted to do is very bad, particularly given the current median law school debt of over $160,000.  You have to want it, and not just before you get there.    

What were the biggest changes you saw in the legal profession over the course of your career?

There have been two in particular.  The first would be the steady decline—and recently the seeming revival—of solo practice.  The personal computer revolution of the early 1990s at first seemed like it would liberate counsel forever from the need for a phalanx of secretaries, an expensive paper library, and a labyrinthine filing system.  What kicked in at the same time, however, was an expansion in regulations and requisite procedures that just one brain supported by only ten fingers could scarcely hope to manage.  Now, however, the pandemic-potentiated virtual workplace seems to be giving solos back their edge.

Another development—one that took off and never looked back—was the inexorable gender diversification of the legal workforce.  When I was about to graduate, I was told that the nationwide matriculating class had for the first time become 50.1% female.  Indeed, one of my psychiatric residents remarked, with evident relish, that “the Future is Female.”  She promised to write me a letter, though. 

When did you first become a member of the ABA and why did you decide to join?

I joined the ABA in 1990, during the waning years of an era in which brochures were solicited—and applications were filed—via the United States Postal Service.  Stamps cost 25 cents each.  ABA dues were only slightly higher than that.

It never occurred to me back in the day that joining the ABA was something one would “decide” to do.  We were lawyers, so we just did it.  Accompanying this interview is a photo taken the month I joined.  Does this look like someone who ought to be making adult decisions?  Yes, those sunglasses were pink.   

Are there any member benefits that SLD or the ABA provided to you that helped you decide to become a member of the ABA and/or SLD?

As indicated above, I was destined for ABA membership the day someone working for the Office of Bar Admissions fell asleep at the switch and I slipped through.  To this day I have no idea what my exam score might have been, because I’m afraid they’ll find out they calculated my Multistate Bar Examination score incorrectly. 

If asked, I would have described the benefits in question as “I get to be a member of the ABA.”  I didn’t expect anything else.

When it came to joining the SLD, there technically weren’t any benefits.  I could have lied about my age, but I was only 60 years old when I joined.  I’m told that a lot of stuff kicks in a couple of years from now.  In the meantime, I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a group so delighted to be with one another and so eager to share their experiences. 

What has been the highlight of your work with the ABA?

I always thought it was when I chaired an ABA Section, but what’s exciting me the most now is the opportunity to chair the SLD’s Center for Excellence in Elder Law and Dementia.  This takes a bit of almost everything I’ve been doing for over 30 years and bundles it into one project where everyone gets to play.

If you had not become a lawyer, what do you think you would have done?

Hard time.  Not necessarily in a penological sense, but rather time spent doing things that aren’t that interesting—at least to me.  Whether it resides at the core of the enterprise or instead lurks nearby in the tall grass, law has a critical part to play in everything that really matters.  If you can’t find something to like in the law, then chances are you’ll never find something to like in anything.

I shouldn’t duck the question, however.  In college, I blew through a succession of potential majors in a fashion that would have inspired the term “ADHD” had this diagnosis not already existed.  French.  German and French.  History.  Theater.  I believe my participation would have eroded the standard of practice in any or all of these fields, and after all that’s “making a difference,” at least of a sort. 

Book dealer.  Travel agent.  Bass player.  We could argue over whether any of these jobs has a place in the 21st Century.