Doctor, Counselor, Your Honor...
This Longwood man never met a profession he didn’t like.
It’s good to have goals.
Pursuing a career as a doctor or a lawyer are professional paths many choose to take. But both at the same time? And adding in a federal judgeship, to boot?
“I get bored very easily,” may be the understatement of the year. And it comes from Harry Rein, M.D., J.D.
He is, as far as he knows, the only person to be a licensed doctor, lawyer, and judge all at the same time. And even at age 85, the Longwood resident is still actively working.
“Now, I only take cases I want,” Harry says with a smile, usually medical malpractice cases that involve both of his professional backgrounds.
The story that precedes Harry’s triple-career designation is interesting, too. He believes in angels who have been watching and guiding him throughout his life.
Born in Austria, Harry was a child when he and his family escaped the Nazis on the final train out of the country after Hitler’s annexation. He doesn’t know how much of that experience he actually remembers, or how much was told to him later. The family immigrated to the United States and moved to New York.
Harry’s father, Sam, joined the Navy. Harry stayed busy learning English.
As he got older, having mastered the language, Harry decided to train to be a physician. He earned an undergraduate degree and medical doctorate in New York, graduating in 1957, the same year he followed in his father’s military footsteps. Harry served as a U.S. Army Medical Corps captain from 1957 to 1960, around the same time he married his wife, Rhea.
Harry says that his wedding was a long, long time ago. “Right after Noah’s Ark,” he quips.
Florida or Bust
“I was a Jewish boy from New York,” Harry says, which was all he knew until a college break one summer during which he discovered all Florida had to offer. Headed to a vacation in Miami, Harry visited an aunt in Orlando along the way.
“I never did make it to Miami,” Harry says. Central Florida resonated with him, and he knew he would become a resident of this part of The Sunshine State.
Harry became one of Florida’s first board-certified, general-practice family physicians in 1960. He had a practice in College Park, serving his patients for two decades in areas of general medicine, surgery, and obstetrics. The practice now belongs to Dr. Jan Becker.
“I loved my patients, and they loved me,” Harry says. He tells stories of delivering babies, helping families, and running into patients who remember seeing him years and years before.
But the bureaucratic nature of healthcare and its increasing regulations eventually got Harry thinking about his next step. Administrative responsibilities, paperwork, and a system in which he felt that insurance companies were making health decisions eventually proved too much.
“There were tougher and tougher rules,” Harry says. “It became a challenge to continue tolerating what I saw.”
So, after 20 years, Harry opted to serve people in a different way: medical law. He loved studying law, graduating early from University of Florida College of Law in 1982. “It’s all easy, if you want to do it,” he says. So Harry did.
He practiced medical-litigation cases as a trial lawyer and served in criminal cases as an expert medical advisor for more than 30 years. Harry also worked as a federal judge for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
He still participates in cases today but leaves time so he and Rhea can travel often. They have been to more than 100 countries. The couple has two daughters, Robin and Deborah, who have families of their own. Despite a busy schedule, Harry made time to attend his daughters’ school functions and other activities as they were growing up, he says.
Harry is active at Temple Israel in Winter Springs. “I’ve held every position, I think,” he laughs. “I’ve been with the temple since the 1960s and blowing the shofar at Rosh Hashanah for the past 49 years. I have not missed once.”
Harry’s autobiography, From Stethoscope to Gavel: Of Becoming a Doctor, Lawyer and Judge, was published in 2015.
“Do what you enjoy,” is one of Harry’s life mantras, and “kindness begets kindness. People have to be able to trust you.”
He is grateful to the angels who watch over him.
“If I wake up and recognize myself in the mirror, I say, ‘I know it’s going to be a great day.’”
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