They say difficulties come in threes. I don’t know if I necessarily subscribe to that proverb, especially as it may relate to the life of a Charlotte lawyer.
It’s not that “stuff” doesn’t happen. It’s just that it happens all the time, one thing after another.
My days in court sometimes remind me of the description of weaving in DWI charges: A relatively regular pattern of lateral movement with one steering correction closely followed by another.
Courtroom lawyers tend to be pretty good at compartmentalizing professional responsibilities and pivoting, moving from one thing to another – Bill Powers, Attorney
It’s part of the job.
One must always be prepared for surprises, changes in the landscape, and encountering sudden ethical issues.
Professor Jenkins, a veteran criminal defense lawyer
My 1L Criminal Law Professor at Campbell Law School was Robert “Bob” Jenkins. He was an erudite legal mind, despite the fact he also had 25+ years under his belt as a practicing criminal defense attorney.
He shared information freely, as opposed to hiding the ball. I liked that type of professor.
I recall Professor Jenkins once saying, “The longer you practice law, the less you know.” That made no sense to me. I always believed practice makes perfect.
The life of a courtroom lawyer is fast-paced, thrilling, and at times terrifying. It’s also an incredibly challenging way to make a living.
Professor Jenkins’ proclamation, like the legal sage himself, was nuanced.
No one is ever “perfect” when it comes to serving as an attorney. Experienced litigators recognize there is always something more to learn.
My emendation of the life lesson to lawyers is that:
The longer you practice law, the more you realize how much you have yet to learn – Bill Powers
Studies seem to indicate younger and/or inexperienced lawyers don’t always know what they don’t know.
They mess with the tail, not recognizing the danger of fangs attached to the other end.
Of course, that can also be occasionally true for pro se litigants.
More seasoned attorneys are likely a bit more conservative because they know from long experience that legal matters can go sideways in an instant.
Effective advocacy is nuanced. Listening is more important than talking.
It’s something I work on, failing regularly.
I cringe at times in court, seeing the functional equivalent of riding a unicycle, while blindfolded, on the lip of a volcano.
It doesn’t matter if you are a criminal defense attorney or family law or “personal injury” lawyer.
Our system of justice can be incredibly complicated, carrying bigtime consequences.
27+ years in the courtroom removes the blindfold.
Nothing changes about the unicycle and the volcano.
The difference is you just get to see the danger.
Each and every day, lawyers navigate ethical issues that make our heads spin.
Issues in life are complicated and often messy. They don’t get any easier subjected to the adversarial process.
And yet, each and every day, I also see excellence in the courtroom.
Lawyers care tremendously for their clients and the clients’ legal issues.
The best lawyers I know talk to one another. They ask questions, seek guidance, and take advice.
They stop one-another in the hallway and say, “Hey, let me ask you a question about this case.”
That’s the best part of being a lawyer in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. I love the professional discourse and exchange of ideas.
I still have so much to learn and that’s part of what makes practicing law a profession. It’s good because it’s hard.
It also can be quite odd, if not funny.
The importance of relationships to lawyers and lawyering
This past week my wonderful legal assistant Melissa called on the inter-office phone system.
What she said was crazy enough that my response was, “Do what?”
I’m an experienced lawyer. This was a new one on me.
Melissa has a tough job.
She’s the wall of separation between legitimate client inquiries and the insane number of daily calls we get from SEO-types promising “first-page Google results.”
We always want to talk to clients, to answer their legal questions, and to be there for them during times of need.
Our law firm exists to serve people needing legal representation. That’s what we do. It’s our raison d’être
At the same time, our law office, like many others, is now inundated with sales calls, emails, attempted walk-in visits, and social media “I know Bill and he suggested we get a cup of coffee” solicitations.
If you want to do business with pretty much any NC lawyers, don’t lie.
Cold calling, showing up at the office, claiming to be a friend, claiming to be lawyer, and lying to get past support staff doesn’t work in the long run.
If you want to develop a business relationship with lawyers, get involved with our passions and our professional organizations.
Attend CLE (continuing legal education) and serve as a sponsor at the NC Advocates for Justice seminars.
Get to know lawyers on a personal level. Dedicate time to our professional organizations. Show genuine interest. You’ll get business.
That’s who we work with. We have longstanding, abiding relationships with our vendors. Many are close personal friends.
Our Findlaw representative has been to my home for Thanksgiving Dinner many times.
The chances of getting us to suddenly cut-and-run from those relationships are pretty slim.
Develop relationships with lawyers of a personal level first.
Pull some creative email funnel-marketing stuff and we’ll politely say, “No thank you.”
Act like you’re an existing client, feign an emergency, or be rude to our staff members, and you’re likely to get an earful.
Jaime Rivera Reagan
It is fair to say I do my darndest to protect my “executive time” at the office.
That time is dedicated to reading literally thousands of pages of discovery, uninterrupted, preparing Motions, and communicating with opposing counsel, scheduling future trial dates.
For me, that time to work is extremely limited and therefore is a valuable asset.
Our goal is to give top-notch legal advice. That requires periods of focus and concentration.
Melissa beeping through to me when I have the DND button pressed on my desk phone is a rarity.
She practically demanded I speak with a man, promising, “You’re going to want to hear this one, Jaime.”
Calling me Jaime piqued my interest, which clearly was her intent.
I picked up the phone and said, “This is Bill Powers. How may I help you?”
The man on the other line answered, “Uh, yes, I know this is odd, but do you do political stuff in New Jersey?”
Of course, the answer was no.
I think I’ve been to New Jersey maybe ten times, all of which involved the airport in Newark and nothing more.
The unknown voice continued, “Your last name isn’t Reagan, is it? You don’t go by Jaime Rivera Reagan do you? Because someone has your picture up with that name under it as the “author” of a political hit-job website.”
For the second time in less than five minutes I said, “Do what?”
I was directed to look at this website: www.InsideNJnews.com”
So it seems there is a nasty race going on for the Sheriff of Middlesex County, New Jersey.
Sigh. There went my morning.
Instead of doing my work, I spent my time talking to a half-dozen representatives of the criminal division of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey.
Hopefully, they’ll do something about the website.
Why my professional profile picture was chosen is beyond me.
The point is, that’s pretty par for the course in the Life of a Charlotte lawyer.
- Drunk Driver Accidents
- Are Recorded Statements Required?
- What is Alienation of Affection in North Carolina
- What is Criminal Conversation?
- Who is the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte?