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NC Workers' Compensation Lawyer - Jay Gervasi - Part 3



Noted Greensboro Workers' Compensation Attorney Jay Gervasi joins Law Talk with Bill Powers to discuss the practice of law.


Bill Powers: Right, and to be clear, you represent injured employees.

Jay Gervasi: That's correct.

Bill Powers: You do not represent the corporations, the companies, the employer, the insurance company?

Jay Gervasi: That's right. It's been 30 years since I represented those people. But the wounds are fresh. There were things about working on the other side too that are difficult. You have to have, each of us chooses our poison but the insurance companies can be pretty rough on their lawyers. I'm really sympathetic to my colleagues on the other side, with how they're driven by the folks at the insurance companies. Again, everybody picks their poison but that's a poison I didn't like very much.

Bill Powers: Right. And frankly, insurance companies don't make money by paying excessively on claims.

Jay Gervasi: Or paying at all.

Bill Powers: Right. And for the record, we speak to both sides and there are good, bad, and not so nice things about both sides of the law I think at times. I think workers' comp, there are few areas of practice where I can say this, but workers' comp to me is sort of where the rubber hits the road between the interaction, the daily, I guess the humanity of the practice of law between the attorney and the employee.

Jay Gervasi: That's a good way of putting it.

Bill Powers: And it's true with my clients too. We have a multi practice group but a lot of our clientele are just ordinary people. We don't represent the corporations, we're not arguing about some shareholder derivative action or some overly esoteric issue. These are very real people, very real lives, and very real concerns. So I'll ask you a question and I think it's a real question for lawyers, especially I've been doing it 27 years, I think I'm in my 28th now at year 30 something.

Bill Powers: One of the concerns were seeing as practitioners, for our generation, whatever that generation may be, I'm not a boomer, I think I'm a gen Xer, but how do you maintain, how do you avoid burnout? And this is a personal issue, like I go fishing, I walk a lot, I have a personal spiritual side. Tell me, as you feel comfortable, I'm not trying to put you on the spot, I think young lawyers and law students just see the glamor of things and the courtroom drama they see on TV and they don't realize that it's not very-

Jay Gervasi: The glamor. I tell my clients there's a reason there are no realistic television shows about lawyers because they sit on the other side of a desk and talk to me, I talk to people, I read stuff, I talk on the phone a lot, sometimes I go to court and next week I've got to argue something at the court of appeals. I guess that glamorous, I don't know, but it's pretty much just doing the job. But most of us just kind of, things that other people would find boring.

Jay Gervasi: Part of it is because I like the job so much. People my age start thinking about retiring and that sort of thing and I don't want to. I like what I'm doing, I'd like to have more control over my time and maybe be able to do other things more, and that sort of thing, but I don't really see a need to stop doing what I'm doing because I just enjoy it so much. Going to the office is not a burden for me.

Jay Gervasi: Now, part of it is also, I've been practicing by myself now for the last 20 years and for me, because I'm such a weirdo, not having to satisfy somebody else, makes the job very, very easy. I mean I can go to the office when I want, I can do my work when I want as long as I do it, and I don't have to care what anybody else thinks.

Jay Gervasi: So that takes a pressure off that makes it, again, very easy for me not to be burned out. When I was working at the larger firms when I was on the defense side, there was a lot of pressure to bill hours and that kind of thing and to look the right way in terms of your attitudes towards things, which I didn't like. Even when I was practicing on this side for the first 10 years with a firm here in Greensboro which I guess is now... Now it's [inaudible 00:16:15], in fact I was over there last night for some old gathering.

Jay Gervasi: But it was Donaldson & Horsley when I got there in 1990, and Donaldson & Horsley are tremendous lawyers. Bill is formerly retired, [inaudible] is kind of getting that way I guess. But I enjoyed working with them but even so being in a firm with other people applied pressures to me that made me not like the job as much as I would. For practicing on my own like this and sort of just doing, I may have been retired for 20 years, I don't know, but I don't feel...

Jay Gervasi: And for me the outlet is, it was generally family things. I'm a big, I'm a bit of a couch potato, my wife and I enjoy spending time together doing anything or nothing. My daughters are great people, their fiancé and husband are people I enjoy spending time with. So a lot of it's sort of quiet, boring, family stuff for me. I don't fish nearly as much as I'd like to. I see your stuff on Facebook and I'm just grossly envious of you out there driving the red fish crazy but yeah.

Jay Gervasi: I like going places modestly, that sort of thing. I don't have any need of take a three-week cruise to the Pacific or anything like that, but it's just normal day-to-day life that makes me comfortable.

<< Part 2 | Part 4 >>

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