Ira Lee Sorkin – Bernie Madoff's attorney

Ira Lee SorkinWhen did you decide to become a lawyer? Why? 

Junior year in college, after I took a fascinating course on constitutional law taught by a Professor of Political Science.

Starting out, what did you expect from a career in the law? 

Fascinated by the adversarial process.

How did you get into the areas of law you are known for today? By design? Chance? Both? 

I knew from my first year in law school I wanted to be a litigator and try cases.

What do you consider to have been your big break? 

Meeting the District Attorney for Kings (Brooklyn) County, New York City.

What differences do you see in today's legal market compared to when you started? 

The law has become a business and less a profession.

What achievement are you most proud of? 

Public service with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

What do you consider your greatest failure or regret? 

Not winning cases.

"We defend the people who are charged with doing bad things in order to protect the rights of those who do not do bad things." 

What have you enjoyed most during your career in the legal profession? 


And enjoyed least? 


What law would you change, abolish or create? 

Sentencing Guidelines.

Who is your legal hero? 

Clarence Darrow.

What career would you have in your second life? 

Navy fighter pilot. 

What slogan would you like to be remembered by? 

We defend the people who are charged with doing bad things in order to protect the rights of those who do not do bad things.

What advice would you give to students trying to enter the legal profession today? 

Pick the area of law that you enjoy the most and do not stop learning. 

And secondly, to those who hope to ultimately get into the areas of law in which you are expert?

Serve time in public service as a prosecutor or regulator.