A decorated attorney with an extensive career in the field of law, Kelly Strange Crawford is co-chair of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, one of the largest, oldest and most prestigious law firms in New Jersey.
She heads the firm’s Products Liability and Mass Tort Practice Group, and is a trustee for the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey.
Her other professional activities include: a 10-year term as a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Model Civil Jury Charges; a member of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute Legal Advisory Board, the Trial Attorneys of America, the Litigation Counsel of America, the International Association of Defense Counsel, and more. She is also a frequent speaker on panels relating to mass tort and products liability litigation.
Interestingly enough, Crawford – the daughter of an attorney – says she never aspired to be a lawyer, but instead wanted to go to medical school. Once she got to college, however, she determined that medical school wasn’t necessarily for her, and decided to transition to law – a decision that has worked out quite well.
“The thing that is most rewarding to me [about my career] is working with the people who I get to work with on a daily basis,” Crawford says. “Whether that’s my colleagues here at Riker Danzig or other high-caliber colleagues with whom I interact. It’s a day-to-day stimulating process with some smart people who challenge you to be better each day.”
It’s no secret that being an attorney is a tough profession, and Crawford points to some of the challenges in particular that lawyers are facing today.
One is the expectation of being “on” 24/7 – something that Crawford says has been exacerbated with technology. “There’s a constant expectation of immediate access and immediate gratification by everybody, particularly clients.
“Additionally, technology changes at such a fast pace, that the very act of trying to keep up with technology becomes a time consuming process that takes away from what would otherwise be the pure practice of law,” she explains.
Crawford adds that clients are also looking more towards commoditized law and legal services, which presents its own set of challenges to lawyers.
“There are obviously financial considerations, but it also takes away from the concept of the law being a profession,” Crawford says. “Efforts to put law into a product that you can sell on the internet takes away from the idea that there is a profession and that there are people who studied this for their careers in order to make sure that things are done correctly.”
Additionally, Crawford says she will continue to educate people on the true role that lawyers play in society, and the fact that they are not just “bad, sneaky people who are looking to ruin people’s lives.”
“We are here to protect other people’s rights, businesses and lives,” Crawford explains. “No matter what side you are on, everyone has a right to have their rights and their positions represented within the parameters of what our society has determined to be the rules.”
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