Chad Engelhardt knows the law -- because he was the law.
Before becoming a plaintiffs'-side medical-malpractice litigator, he spent 12 years as an Oakland County deputy sheriff, starting at age 19.
"I've always been motivated to help people, and that's a field where I thought I really could," Engelhardt said. "It gave me an immediate opportunity."
In addition to being trained as a hostage negotiator, he was taught crisis intervention for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. That crossed over into his pro bono legal work with PPO and domestic proceedings.
"Having that background was really helpful to me," Engelhardt said. "I was able to represent them in a way that balanced their needs for legal relief without the invasiveness of an adversarial system coming in to make matters worse."
Considering med-mal is your specialty, is there anything you're squeamish about when it comes to personal health care matters?
The dentist. I have a wonderful, gentle dental hygienist and dentist, but it's torture for me to sit in that chair while they assail my molars with iron hooks.
What common law do you think we could do without?
Here in Ann Arbor, parking is a challenge, and I'd certainly appreciate an amnesty card for parking tickets. I accumulate them on a frequent basis.
What's your outlet for decompressing?
Cycling and road biking. When you have the right cadence and breathing pattern, the road is open and the weather's perfect, you can get lost in the moment, and all the stresses of practice just fade away. I do about 50 miles on the weekend.
Are you related to anyone famous?
My grandfather, Syd Nathan, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He founded King Records in Cincinnati, the first racially integrated record company, where merit was the only criteria for being there. He integrated music racially, as well. He signed James Brown. And that integration led into what we know as rock 'n' roll.
What awful fad did you partake in and manage to survive?
I have to admit that during the '80s, I rocked the mullet. I was business in the front, party in the rear, and I deserve the clean-shaven head I now adorn.
Ever walked out of a movie?
Yes, "The Expendables." It was less than 15 minutes before we walked out.
Do you collect anything?
Fountain pens. I started writing with them when I was in law school. There's so much writing in law school that I started using fountain pens to make the process a little more enjoyable. The most special one to me is a Pelikan pen that I wrote the bar exam with.
What one thing in the world do you wish you had the answer to?
Why weathermen can be wrong the majority of the time and still keep their jobs.
Your wife, Jennifer Engelhardt, does med-mal defense. What are the most common things you argue about that aren't law-related?
Laundry, socks on the floor, and dishes. And she's always right.
Source: Michigan Lawyers Weekly at http://milawyersweekly.com/news/2012/11/13/on-the-stand-chad-engelhardt/