“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Paul “Bear” Bryant
I grew up an Alabama football fan. And the son of a hardworking defense lawyer. So when I saw this quote many years ago, it was the perfect merger of two huge parts of my upbringing. Now I have it taped on the inside of my desk drawer, where I see it every time I pull a case file for review. Though applicable in many areas of life, Bryant’s words remind me daily of what it takes to be a good attorney.
Hard work and dedication. Willingness to put in the extra time, effort, and resources. Taking pride and ownership in what you do. To get a good result. To serve the client. To win.
This mentality and ethic is probably the best asset that I offer to clients. And I’ve found that most times, this simple formula works.
For example, just recently, I’ve seen it yield the following outcomes:
- Summary judgment for a HJC, a helmet manufacturer, in a product liability, wrongful death case in a dangerous Alabama venue
- Court-ordered production of thousands of sensitive records in an Open Records dispute in which we represented the Birmingham News and Al.com
- Summary judgment, affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court, for a doctor in a contentious defamation case
- Defense verdict in Tennessee for Leroy-Somer, an industrial generator manufacturer, in a premises liability case
A hard work ethic also produces smaller, daily results. Whether representing doctors in medical malpractice matters, manufacturers in product liability cases, media outlets in defamation disputes, or companies in general business cases, I have found that the will to prepare to win brings small victories on a daily basis. It’s things like seeing a client do well in deposition because you prepared them for every question they were asked, having a judge seize on that one factually analogous case you found to support a summary judgment argument, catching an opposing expert by surprise because you studied the expert’s old depositions, or hearing mock jurors during deliberation embrace your theory of the case. Those daily occurrences, though seemingly minor in isolation, are what produce wins in the long run. And it’s all the result of dedicated preparation. After years of practice, it’s what works for me, and the clients that I have the privilege and honor to serve and represent.
I apply this simple mantra in my personal life too. Before law school, I played varsity soccer at the University of the South, where I was a member of the Order of the Gownsmen, an academic honor society. I then earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder (1997), where I also became an avid back-country skier and worked for a Crested Butte company making handmade-aspen wood furniture. From there, I accepted a position with CNN in its Denver bureau covering the Timothy McVeigh Oklahoma City bombing trial. I then went to work for another Time-Warner company, Southern Progress Corporation, as an assistant editor for Coastal Living magazine, based in Birmingham.
At Cumberland School of Law, I was a staff writer for the Cumberland Law Review, on the Dean's List, recipient of the "Best Brief Award," and participant in various moot court and trial advocacy programs. Since starting at Lightfoot in 2002, my practice has focused in the areas of product liability, defense of medical professionals and attorneys, premises liability, personal injury, insurance (claims handling and sales practices), and general business litigation. I was selected as a rising star in the 2010 edition of Alabama Super Lawyers for my medical malpractice work and I am a member of and involved in the Business Council of Alabama.
But above all of my modest work and personal achievements, my greatest pride is my wonderful family. My wife, Garner, is a successful real estate agent. We are the proud parents of two young children, Whatley (11) and Liza (8). Without their support, I would not be where I am today.