On the Right Side of the Argument
“My Grandmother McCue used to tell me that I should be a lawyer because I would argue with the pope,” Patricia Carey Zucker, managing partner and chief executive officer of the law firm of Daley, Zucker, Meilton & Miner, LLC, said. “I took that as a compliment, although I don’t know that she meant it that way.”
A “true Pennsylvanian,” as she calls herself, Zucker was born in Philadelphia and spent her growing-up years in several Pennsylvania towns. Even as a child, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
Zucker graduated from Bishop-McDevitt High School in the early 1970s and it was there that she was “introduced to the concepts of social justice and personal responsibility for contributing to that justice,” Zucker said. “These were great times to be growing up and learning how to incorporate the principles of fairness and giving into your life.
“The law was the vehicle to be able to make change and seemed the natural progression from the idealism of the classroom to the practicality of earning a living and living life.”
Upon her high school graduation, Zucker attended the University of Scranton and the Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“My educational years were full of challenges, but also many good times,” she said.
Some highlights of her career before DZMM include her work as assistant counsel for the General Law and Construction Claims Litigation Section for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and also her service as liaison counsel for PennDOT to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
Today, Zucker is happy to share that DZMM is a women-owned business and is nationally certified as such. Except for one male partner, everyone at DZMM is female.
“As the CEO and managing partner, I work collaboratively with my partners and rely a great deal on our office manager … we have a great support staff,” she said.
According to the DZMM website, her practice includes administrative law, with an emphasis on insurance producers and regulatory issues, employment law, estate administration, and elder law.
Zucker takes a personal approach when working with her clients and has found that taking advantage of some of the skills women often practice at home has been beneficial.
“As women, we are often peacemakers and facilitators at home, and we bring these same skills to our practice areas as well as to management of the firm,” she said. “Many of us are and were working mothers and know the tug of war that goes on between dealing with and caring for sick children, partners, and elderly parents … being aware of and dealing successfully with these challenges makes us better lawyers.”
Perhaps traditionally considered a “man’s world,” the legal profession is changing.
“Certain areas of the law are traditionally male oriented, yet women are continuing to add their numbers to these specialties,” Zucker said. “In addition, the longer you practice and the more confident you become in your areas of expertise, the less hesitant you are to be deferential.”
She believes that personalities account for more than gender does when it comes to a successful working relationship with a client.
“People like to do business with people that they like,” she said. “While this is a general statement, it does appear to establish and maintain longstanding client-attorney relationships, which prove beneficial to both parties.”
Zucker explained that as a legal professional, it is expected that she provide some pro bono services for people who cannot afford legal representation.
“Our Dauphin County Bar Association has a large and active Pro Bono Program, which introduces us to many opportunities to support legal service to the public, and the Cumberland County Bar Association does as well,” she said. “I have been honored to serve on the Dauphin County Pro Bono Guardianship Monitoring Program for the last few years.”
Guardianships are set up by the courts, and so the courts are required to monitor the quality of the guardianship services that are being provided by the guardians, Zucker said.
“These guardians can be in charge of the finances (estate) and the physical care (personal) of the incapacitated person,” she explained. “A guardian has a wide latitude to make financial and living decisions for the incapacitated person and, without court monitoring, would not be subject to any oversight.”
While most guardians do their best, there are situations where incapacitated persons have been taken advantage of. Those instances are the reason attorneys are asked to provide pro bono services to monitor and ensure that the guardianship is being administered in the way that is best for those being served.
“I have been humbled by the families and also by some of the professional caretakers for the incapacitated children and adults who are selflessly served by them,” Zucker said. “Quality of life has many different faces.”
Zucker is grateful for the special ability she has to make changes that have a positive impact on people’s lives—and she doesn’t take the power of that ability for granted.
“I have also discovered that life is short, and that you never know what today or tomorrow will bring,” she said. “You are not in control of much, and it is a waste of time and energy to worry about things you cannot change or control.”
For Zucker, part of the enjoyment she gets out of life is making a difference.
“I guess it’s like when Forrest Gump tells us that ‘life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.’ The chocolates are a gift, and you have to enjoy the life you have while you have it,” mused Zucker. BW