What type of law do you practice?
I am a trial lawyer. I specialize in all types of personal injury cases, which include medical malpractice, auto accidents, industrial cases, toxic release cases, and class action toxic release. I’ve been practicing for 26 years, and I’ve always been a sole practitioner.
You also serve the citizens of Louisiana in a broader legal capacity. Tell us about these roles.
I do. I’m assistant city attorney for the City of New Orleans and associate director of the criminal justice department at Southern University. I’ve been a member of the state legislature for the last eight years. I served as vice chair for the civil law committee and as chairman for the Louisiana legislative committee, and I now serve as the chair for the judiciary committee.
What inspired your desire to become a lawyer and to specialize in personal injury?
The desire to become a lawyer was shaped by my childhood. I developed a passion at an early age because I always had a need to devote myself to public service and make a positive difference. When I was 12, I saw the movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, and it inspired me to become a lawyer to make sure everyone, regardless of race or color, had access to justice. My primary ambition wasn’t to do with financial security, but had to do with wanting to contribute to the moving forward of the cause of justice.
My desire to do personal injury just happened. It was to remedy situations where people sustained injury or were harmed. It was more aligned with my desire to help my fellow man by being able to replenish the loss someone suffered.
Tell us about your journey from law school to opening your own practice.
I grew up in the River Parishes, and I went to law school at Southern University Law School. After I graduated, I served in the military, and then went back to finish my law degree. My first job was clerking at the U.S. bankruptcy court in Houston. After that, I worked as a tax attorney with the IRS in the Dallas Fort-Worth office. I had gotten married that same year, and my wife was a student at LSU medical school in New Orleans. We were apart for a year, and being separated became too hard, so I left and came back to Louisiana. I was hired as an assistant city attorney for the City of New Orleans, representing the city tax department—working right across the street from my wife, who worked at the hospital. Five years later, in 1995, I left to start my private practice.
You were awarded the Louisiana Cross of Merit for leadership and bravery while in the military, and you played key leadership roles during Operation Desert Storm. Tell us about this.
I was a Lt. Colonel in the military at the time, and I received this honor for my leadership in the coordination of the rescue and evacuation effort of over 30,000 evacuees from the Louisiana Superdome during Hurricane Katrina. While serving as a captain with a MASH unit deployed to Iraq, I coordinated the evacuation of over 300 wounded American soldiers from the combat zone. I am honored to have served with such brave men and women in the service of my country.
What is your personal philosophy that drives you?
My personal philosophy is my work ethic. I believe you should give clients a higher level of service than they expect and always go above and beyond the call of duty, whether it is giving advice or looking out for their wellbeing, showing consideration to their personal life aside from providing legal service. It’s about providing a comprehensive standpoint, encouraging them, helping them. Sometimes clients just need help and someone to care. I personally care about them. Over the years, I have recovered millions of dollars for clients through hard work and perseverance. I have been told by other people in the legal profession that I have always gotten my clients excellent settlements, and have always been complimented on being a great trial lawyer, even by many judges. I think this is just a natural outcome of my work ethic and my passion for justice.
Can you share some of your most notable cases?
I’ll share two that come to mind. A lady had her toe cut off by a tow truck when they were towing her car. She ultimately was awarded $480k, the largest I’ve seen in this state, the largest recovered at trial. I had another case in Baton Rouge. The defense lawyer offered $5,000, and my client had over $20k in medical bills. This made me even more passionate and more determined to make sure that the case turned out in my client’s favor, and the court awarded $256k.
You’ve received multiple awards for your work with the community. Tell us about some of these.
I’ve always been passionate about public service. I was awarded the Flame of Inspiration Award and the Champions Award for community leadership and public service. Twice I’ve received the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award for my civil rights work, and I received the Southern Christian Leadership Conferences National Chairman Award.
To what do you attribute your success?
All of my cases are referral based, for the past 26 years. I’ve never advertised, and I’ve always had a flourishing practice. I believe this is due to the service I provide. I work my cases with a high degree of competence. I over-prepare for my cases, always prepare every aspect and ensure every aspect is thoroughly evaluated. I don’t leave anything to chance; I anticipate challenges and prepare for them.
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