New Hampshire Bar Association celebrates Joseph Kozak's 50 years in Law
When Joseph Kozak was a youngster, he had a reputation for standing up to bullies. His elementary school yearbook labeled him as one who “always sticks up for the little guy.” As such, a career in law just seemed to fit his personality. After serving active duty in the Marine Corps, where he earned three meritorious promotions in rank, he attended Boston College Law School, graduating with his JD in 1972. He was admitted to the Bar in 1973.
Two of Kozak’s mentors were professors. The first was his Political Science professor at the University of Bridgeport, Justice Van Der Kroef, who taught him respect for the legal system, self-confidence, and humility. The second was James Smith, his first-year torts professor at Boston College Law School, who taught him to look beyond the surface when analyzing facts and reaching legal conclusions.
Kozak says he is most proud of having had many satisfied long-term clients, some of whom have become lifelong friends. He had lots of memorable cases, but one standout involves crustaceans.
“While not the most complex or challenging, the one [case] that I am most fond of occurred when I was a young lawyer,” Kozak says. “It was a volunteer lawyer case in which I successfully defended a lobsterman in a criminal tax evasion case. Although [I was] not expecting a fee, he asked me to meet him at a boat dock in Maine the next morning, where he filled the trunk of my car with lobsters. It still makes me smile.”
Kozak has been very active in community service, serving as a chairman for several organizations, including the Manchester School Board, School Union 42 School Board, Manchester Board of Appeals, Manchester Board of Selectmen, Manchester Budget Committee, and his church’s finance committee. He was also a Scout leader and a baseball and soccer coach.
Offering advice to young lawyers, Kozak says, “When you don’t know, say so and seek assistance. Always respect your opponent and try to look at matters from their perspective. Always be prompt in answering phone calls and emails. Do not procrastinate. Seek a balance between your professional career, your family, and your community. There is much more to life than the law, and you will be a better lawyer and a happier person if you achieve that balance. And no matter how long you practice, remain a student of the law.”
Joe will also be honored at the Maine State Bar Association's Summer Bar Conference as a Life Member.