‘The profession is less collegial and more competitive’

By Mike Lewis
John R. Salvatore, an attorney in Hagerstown, Md., who will mark 46 years of practicing law in January, drinks dark-roast coffee in his office.

John R. Salvatore, attorney at law

Hunting trophies adorn the walls of John R. Salvatore’s law office in Hagerstown, Md.

Scattered across his desk and nearby tables are piles of papers that make up his current workload. They mingle with souvenirs of his travel and his service.

He’s holding a coffee mug he acquired during a visit to Italy. A Washington County Commissioner name plate sits nearby.

On his door hangs a paper target, shaped like a human silhouette. Holes in the “bullseye” show his proficiency with a weapon.

There are other certificates, plaques and words of accomplishment and encouragement.

A Clear Spring High School graduate, Salvatore received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

He served six years as a police officer in Prince George’s County, and he started practicing law there in 1972. After about a year there, he moved back to Washington County. He’s been an attorney based in Hagerstown ever since.

A Smithsburg resident, Salvatore said Clear Spring always feels like home. “I still hunt up there,” he said.

He’s also served as state’s attorney from 1979 to 1982. And he was a Washington County Commissioner from 1982 to 1986.

“I made the county great again, and then I moved on,” he says with a grin.

On a serious note, Salvatore said he’s proud of what the county accomplished during his stint as a commissioner.

Among other things, he mentioned the construction of facilities that ranged from a jail to a pool to the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College.

“We did a lot of things,” he said.

At the law firm Salvatore & Morton LLC, he’s joined by partner Jason Morton and attorneys Susan M. Lochbaum and Jennifer M. Keefer. Criminal and traffic cases make up the vast majority of Salvatore’s work.

He has three adult children, four grandchildren and a great-grandson.


On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water … ?

Dark-roast coffee or unsweetened tea.

An average day for you includes … ?

Criminal litigation, including client meetings case preparation, research and court appearances.

How has the legal profession changed during your time as an attorney?

The profession is less collegial and more competitive. It used to be a fraternity. … It used to be a nice, friendly mix, (but) now it’s more dog-eat-dog. … When I came to Hagerstown, there were zero females practicing law. None. Now half the new lawyers are female. When I was state’s attorney, I hired the first female (assistant) state’s attorney.

What are the biggest challenges you face in leading a law practice? Are any of those unique to this area?

(The biggest challenges are) staying ahead of the competition (and) helping clients get their lives back on track.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

My professional bucket list has been pretty well realized. I like to golf. I like to hunt. I like to travel — I go to Italy every year — and I like to cook. My next big ambition is retirement.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to facetime@crossroadsbizjournal.com or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-791-7482.