Hanging onto Humanity in a Mechanized World: A Discussion with Gregory Gallopolous

Gregory Gallopoulos has been a lawyer for over 30 years. He first attained his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, in which he was able to participate in a clinical program, which he gave credit for easing his transition into the professional world. He spent about twenty-four years at Jenner and Block, a Chicago-based firm, before he was asked to become managing partner of the firm. After taking on the role for a few years, Gallopolous realized that he “enjoyed building something and being part of an organization” rather than attempting to embed a company-wide culture. From there, Gallopolous moved to General Dynamics Corporation where he has acted as general counsel for about nine years.

Through his work mentoring young students interested in law, Gallopolous has developed two pillars which he believes the core of one’s professional life should be entrenched: clear judgement and strong friendships. In a world that is increasingly mechanized, these two pillars, based in humanity, must stand strong, and you must rely on them in order to succeed as not just a professional, but as a human being.

“Judgement,” Gallopolous claimed, “must be developed outside of your discipline.” This talk of cross-disciplinary activity came up again when a university student admonished the lack of cross-disciplinary education, a problem that plagues most universities across the country, when the truest form of education should enlighten you in all fields, from business to environmental sustainability to sociology. According to Gallopolous, one of the manners in which you can go about solidifying your judgement is reading across a wide expanse of disciplines; Gallopolous himself consumes books that span a variety of categories, reading both fiction and non-fiction. Gallopolous is adamant that reading is essential to cultivate good judgement.

When it comes to relationships, Gallopolous was quick to make a distinction between networking and true friendship. “I’m talking about real friends, which means that you shouldn’t care in the least whether or not they’re going to be able to advance your career or get you an internship.” Gallopolous explained that true friends should enrich your life and push you towards being a better person in a variety of manners. It can be easy to associate with people who are like-minded: people who are in your classes, participate in the same activities as you, or think the same way as you do. In order to live a fulfilling life, especially in this day and age, you must search for friendships in which you share a deeper bond.