Why am I a Trial Lawyer?

Why am I a Trial Lawyer?

I am a trial lawyer because of the helplessness and pain I feel. I was not always a trial lawyer. At the beginning of my career (in 1978), I practiced law with my Dad and had a general practice and focused mainly on real estate and Wills.

Real estate law did not intrigue me. Wills are interesting; I serve individuals, but, after a time, I found that work to be less than satisfying. Something was gnawing at me. In 1982, I began trying cases, personal injury, divorce, commercial litigation, and criminal. What made trying cases fulfilling?

I remember the summer of 1964, I was fourteen. During that summer, I watched my Dad try a criminal case in Cherokee Superior Court. I sat on a hard wooden bench, not unlike a rural church pew. The ceilings were high and the air stale, hot. My Dad defended a middle aged man charged with burglarizing a cafeteria. Apparently, he had been caught on top of the building with a crowbar. My Dad stood up to the State and made them prove their case. I knew then, I wanted to be a trial lawyer.

By 1988, I had become an experienced trial lawyer. I had fulfilled my childhood dream, but something was missing. I knew I wanted to help the injured, the innocent, and the powerless. I wanted to right wrongful injuries. But why?

Another event in my childhood shaped me. I have one older sister and two younger brothers. The youngest of all is "Pitt." Pitt was the fairest of us all. My sister Sharon, brother Tom, and I all had freckles and dark brown hair. Pitt had fair skin free of freckles, and blonde hair. In the summer of 1962, six year old Pitt climbed into an old green ice chest. This cooler sat under our carport. That day Mom and Dad were planning to pilot their 20' cabin cruiser up the Tennessee River. A huge Evinrude outboard motor powered the boat. It would be their holiday. Someone cleaned the green ice chest and left it open to dry out. Pitt was at home. His sister and older brothers were not. We were already at friends' houses, where we would stay and play during our parents' vacation. Dad was still at work; he was getting ready to leave on vacation; Mom was food shopping for the trip. Lucinda, beloved Lucinda, large, kind, and loving, the most wonderful black woman I know, stayed at home that day. Apparently, Pitt climbed into the green ice chest. The lid closed. How? We don't know. Maybe our beagle's stiff tail closed it; perhaps the wind or Pitt himself. We will never know. When the lid dropped down, the metal latch of the ice chest snapped shut. Gravity forced the metal latch shut and locked the green metal ice box tight. That metal latch suffocated Pitt. He died in the dark; alone.

I was ten at the time. I felt guilt for not being at home, for playing with my friends, Doug and Tom. I also felt helpless to save my brother. These two feelings- guilt and helplessness - mixed and stirred together and created in the adult Richard Jones, the trial lawyer Richard Jones, a desire to help others who have been wrongfully hurt. A defective latch caused my brother's death. This metal latch - activated by the force of the lid shutting - is no longer used. Metal latches activated by gravity no longer suffocate your loved ones.

By 1986, this pain shaped me to represent the wrongfully injured and their families. I right wrongful injuries. If, through my work for Plaintiffs, I can only save one life, then it will be worthwhile. If a product can be reasonably safer, then it should be. If an apartment complex can provide reasonable security to save the life of one resident, then it is worthwhile. If a gas tank on a vehicle can be made reasonably safer, then it should be.

I have learned to listen closely and truly hear my clients. Now I hear their pain and grief and paint the picture of their injustice. I tell the story of their wrongful suffering.

I am a Warrior. I am a Warrior for each of my clients. I will never give up. Failure is not an option. Winning is the only option. (I cannot guarantee a win; instead, it's a mindset to enhance the chances of winning.) Winning comes from careful listening, story telling, careful deliberate preparation.

- Richard Jones