Kutak Rock attorney Ed Marquette was asked by the American Bar Association to share the story about his triumphant journey to law. His article, “This lawyer’s blindness led him to a tech-focused law practice,” is featured in the January 2019 issue of ABA Journal.
Ed’s journey started on a farm in northeast Missouri, but early in his life, he knew farming was not for him. His father wanted him to be a doctor, which “of course, ensured that [he] would become anything but a doctor.” As a high school student, Ed developed a passion for nuclear physics, but an accidental blast from a fellow quail hunter’s gun rendered him blind and brought his plans to a halt.
While he recovered from the accident, he “became caught up in the winds of change and the politics of the [Vietnam] era.” Politics became his passion, and since the “default profession for all politicians was the law,” he applied to an array of law schools and was accepted to Harvard Law School. Though he burned out on politics, he didn’t burn out on the law.
The same way he “backed into the law through politics,” he backed into intellectual property and technology through his blindness. Immersion in technology early on prepared him for the technology explosion, of which his current practice is heavily involved.
Ed says he feels lucky to have a flourishing practice because “many blind and physically handicapped people who are pumped through law school struggle to find any kind of law-related job.”
He continues, "When an individual has to devise alternative solutions to accomplish even the most mundane tasks, that person is, of necessity, adept at finding alternative solutions—solutions that often escape others. That is the message the disabled community needs to broadcast, and seeing that it happens is the main reason I am so involved in issues of diversity and inclusiveness, even though they do not directly relate to my legal practice."
My Path to Law is a guest column in the ABA Journal that celebrates the diversity of the legal profession through attorneys’ first-person stories detailing their unique and inspiring trajectories. To read more about Ed’s journey, click here.
Ed Marquette is the Diversity Action Group Chair for the IPL Section of the ABA and the liaison to the ABA’s Commission on Disability Rights.