Hach & Rose, LLP attorney Hillary Nappi gives insight into why she became a lawyer and who she is.
What inspired you to become an attorney?
I decided to be an attorney when I was six years old. My parents had gone out to dinner and left me with a babysitter. While they were gone I accidentally broke a lamp and, afraid to get in trouble, I quickly glued it back together. When my parents came home and saw the lamp, which was obviously a mess, they asked me what happened. I lied and spun a story blaming my dog. My parents were not fooled, and I was grounded. I made a list of reasons why I should be let off punishment in a marble notebook and presented it to my parents over dinner. They laughed and told me I was still punished for lying. I hounded them every day for the whole week. Finally, they let me off punishment two days early. For my perseverance they told me that I would probably make a good lawyer. After my dad explained to me what a lawyer was, I decided right then and there that it would be my future.
<h2?>What practice areas do you focus on?
I work on complex corporate litigation, corporate governance, and sexual abuse and assault cases.
Tell us about one of your most interesting cases.
I have two cases which mean the world to me. The first case was litigated last year. I represented a 17-year-old high school student in a case involving bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination. My client is gay and when he came out to his classmates he was brutally bullied and harassed. He fought back, and instead of dealing with the bullies, his school suspended him. When he returned to school, he was assaulted on the campus. Again, the school punished him instead of his attackers, and moved to have him expelled. The administration’s response to his sexuality made me realize how many kids are being marginalized every day and how many children need protection. We were able to arrange for him to finish his education with home schooling, and we also settled the case so that he had money to compensate him for his injuries. Most importantly, the outcome of this case gave him the freedom to start his new life, seeking out people and places that would let him feel respected and accepted.
The second case is a Child Victims Act (CVA) case. My client was repeatedly raped and abused by her brother in law when she was a child. When she contacted me, no other firm would take her case. We were successfully able to bring awareness of her allegations to the community she grew up in (and fled). When her case settled, she told me that it was the first day of the rest of her life. She has repeatedly called me a “life-saver.” Though I’m honored that she feels that way, I don’t necessarily think that’s true. However, her case made me feel like a “gladiator in a suit” (a quote from one of my favorite shows, Scandal).
These two cases helped me to realize that even though representing survivors of sexual assault can be incredibly draining, cases like these are why I do it. I helped to change the lives of these two people, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.
What are you most proud of?
My ability to remain real. I’m honest with my clients; I listen to their stories, offer them sympathy, and never over or underestimate what I can do for them. In my life, my friends and family know that I’m someone they can trust. No matter what happens, I never want to lose that quality.
Do you have any hidden talents, hobbies, or a fun fact?
Recently I’ve gotten into cooking! There wasn’t too much else to do during quarantine, so I figured it would be a good time to brush up on my skills. I am now an expert at making fried rice.
What is your favorite quote?
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was my high school yearbook quote and it still resonates with me. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever read.