The Blog

Pro Bono Representation: A Bond Forged between a Naval Officer and Trial Lawyer

Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.

 -Abraham Lincoln

Officer Motes’ Reflections:

I have always been given the short end of the stick as they say and being a veteran doesn’t make it any better. We are always praised for our years of service, but when in fact, we’re treated just the same and in some cases, very differently from the common civilian, which shouldn’t be the case for those individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice by serving for their country. When I was rear ended in a traffic accident in July of 2016, I was extremely skeptical about pursuing any action against the young man who caused the accident and his insurance carrier.  I was in pain, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to get the run-around by the big time lawyers from his insurance company so what’s the point of even trying.”

I was so happy that I decided to pull the trigger and move forward with my case. I honestly recommend any person, especially veterans, to consult with a lawyer before you make any decision. Lawyers know what they are doing and without a lawyer having my back and going the extra mile each day, I am sure that my outcome would have been much different (and not in a good way). My case was settled much faster and everything went smoothly. At the end of the day, I was able to sleep clearly because I knew I had a lawyer in my corner guiding me through this difficult time. Most people never think about getting a lawyer until something happens to them. I can truly say that I am a veteran who has been shown the right way to be treated by a lawyer.

 

Kevin Patrick’s Reflections:

Over the years, I have become accustomed to standing for the national anthem, thanking a soldier quietly at the airport, and making donations to wounded soldier projects. I never quite felt though like I knew a veteran on a personal level or understood the unique challenges facing veterans in our community. The words of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” began to resonate more and more with me with each and every passing day. As a trial lawyer, I longed for an opportunity to make an active and meaningful difference in the life of a veteran and help dispel the popular myth that lawyers prefer to advance their own self-serving agendas.

Officer Motes and I initially met under challenging circumstances in early-July of 2016. He was hurt because of an automobile collision. Despite this difficult situation, Officer Motes’ inherent qualities, like courage and loyalty, were very evident. Most importantly, Officer Motes embodied the naval motto: Non sibi, sed patriae. He always had and still would put his country above himself. Officer Motes taught me an important lesson about pro bono service that transcends all practice areas:  We have the ability to use our respective talents to give back to those individuals that are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect our Constitution. Veterans are not mere statistics, but rather they are very real people. On behalf of all layers, we salute you, Officer Motes.

Thanksgiving Day Reflections and a Quick Recipe

We have so much to be grateful for these days. Instead of a legal blog post for the end of the month, we want to share with all of you one of our favorite Thanksgiving Day reflections and one of our favorite quick and easy recipes.

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.

This reflection always helps us keep things in perspective because so often we encounter people that have been hurt and need legal help. We sincerely hope that each and every one of them will have the courage and strength to persevere in the journey toward healing and a full recovery following their injuries. We are truly grateful that they have placed their trust in our law firm. Like the reflection goes, we count you as our friends and wish you the very best during this time of thanksgiving.

On a lighter note, here are directions to one of our favorite sweet potato pie recipes. Here’s what you will need for it:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1/2 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1  9-inch refrigerated piecrust

And now, here are the three easy steps for making the pie:

(1) First, you will need to heat oven to 350° F.
(2) While the oven is heating up, the second step requires you to combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. (We like to use an electric mixer on medium) You need to beat the butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Then you will add the egg, orange juice, and honey. You should beat the mixture for another 2 minutes. Finally, you will add the sweet potato, evaporated milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and combine into the bowl. You’re almost done!!!
(2) Third, pour the sweet potato mixture into the crust. FYI: Be careful because it tends to go everywhere if you do it too fast. The key is to bake the pie until the filling is set, which usually takes 50 to 60 minutes. We also recommend let your pie cool for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to serve at room temperature, and, most importantly, enjoy it with your family and friends.

We look forward to hearing from all of you about your Thanksgiving and wish all of you the very best over the holiday season. As always, we are here for you. Feel free to call us at (404) 566-8955 or send us an e-mail at contact@patricktriallaw.com. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Reflections on the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyer’s Division

As we conclude the bar year and near the end of our YLD journey, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the commitment made by my former law firm to supporting young lawyers, the life-long values fostered through the YLD and other members of the profession, and the importance of having a caring and supportive family:

I am forever grateful to Goodman, McGuffey, Lindsey & Johnson, LLP, for not only hiring me as a young associate many years ago, but also encouraging me to become actively involved in the YLD. During one of my first mid-year reviews, I was deeply touched when a senior partner asked me, “Kevin, what can we do to support you?” The firm truly recognized that the practice of law goes well beyond billable hours, and they invested in the future of our profession. Civic and professional development for young associates is paramount to a rewarding and fulfilling legal career. They were and still are my role models. Years from now, I certainly hope to extend the same encouragement and support to a younger lawyer embarking on a legal career.

Like the firm, the YLD teaches young lawyers the “right” way to practice law. The judiciary, senior members of the bar, and leadership of the YLD all took the time to serve as mentors for us. For example, I still remember Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson speaking to the Litigation Committee. His humorous, but sage advice to “stop digging if you find yourself in a ditch” carries with all of us. During my first out-of-state YLD meeting to Washington, D.C., I recall former presidents of the State Bar, like Ken Shigley, sitting with us at dinner. The simple act of breaking-bread with us made us feel welcomed and appreciated as young lawyers. Along with the judiciary and members of the bar, former leaders of the YLD, like Sharri Edenfield, still remain actively engaged in YLD events, such as the Signature Fundraiser and Leadership Academy.

Most importantly, I am thankful for my parents, Charles and Denise Patrick, encouraging me to enter into the practice of law. I remember them sitting in the courtroom watching me participate as a junior and senior at The Walker School in the high school mock trial program. At the University of Georgia, my mother recalled the words of John Milton and encouraged me to study the Classics, especially the legal system during the Roman republic. And finally, Mom and Dad were ever so supportive during the first year of law school and were there along with my relatives to celebrate my graduation from Mercer University. My parents made countless sacrifices, believed in me, and ultimately recognized law was one of the noblest professions. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Remembering “Old Ironsides” on Memorial Day Weekend

As we are beginning the Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to share with everyone the history behind Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr.’s famous poem “Old Ironsides,” which was written on September 16, 1830:

Aye tear her tattered ensign down

Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;

Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon’s roar;—

The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,

Where knelt the vanquished foe,

When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,

And waves were white below,

No more shall feel the victor’s tread,

Or know the conquered knee;—

The harpies of the shore shall pluck

The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk

Should sink beneath the wave;

Her thunders shook the mighty deep,

And there should be her grave;

Nail to the mast her holy flag,

Set every threadbare sail,

And give her to the god of storms,

The lightning and the gale!

The USS Constitution earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812. This frigate with 44 guns defeated the British ship, HMS Guerriere, which interestingly was commissioned by the French, but later stolen by the British.  In any event, the Constitution was one of the original six frigates in the United States Navy. This ship was commissioned by the Naval Act of 1974.  After the Revolutionary War, the United States was heavily in debt and had actually disbanded the Continental Navy. Our first president George Washington gave the ship the name the Constitution for obvious reasons.

Turing now to the poem and author, Oliver Wendell Holmes chose for a moment to abandon his studies of law. He began to pursue poetry. During this time, he came across an article in the Boston Daily Advertise about plans to scrap this ship in September 1830. Holmes’ poem was published the following day and garnered attention throughout many cities, like New York and Washington.  As a result of his poem, the plans to scrap “Old Ironsides” were scrapped by the Navy, and now, it’s the oldest commissioned ship still floating in the world!

 

Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Atlanta Olympics

July 19th will mark the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Olympic games. An attorney, Mr. William “Billy” Payne, championed the effort to bring the games to Georgia. Last month, Mr. Payne graciously took the time to share with us his memories from the Olympics. The lessons underscoring them serve as fine examples for attorneys throughout our state.

 

Legal Background

Mr. Payne earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in 1969. As the son of a No. 1 NFL draft pick, Mr. Payne also played for the football team. His football skills led to a post-graduate scholarship to the law school. Mr. Payne graduated from law school in 1973 and entered into private with a firm in Atlanta that represented MARTA. Mr. Payne then transitioned to a larger law firm. After spending approximately five years with that firm, Mr. Payne opened a practice with six other lawyers. Mr. Payne, like many other attorneys starting a practice, remembers the humble beginnings, such as running titles at the various courthouses throughout Georgia. Mr. Payne later built the firm into a successful commercial real estate practice with large national clients.

 

A Dare to Dream

After several years of practice, Mr. Payne wanted to do more good than to simply earn a living for his family. Mr. Payne was inspired by his faith. When he was returning home from a dedication of a new church at his parish on Sunday, February 8, 1987, Mr. Payne recalled all of the wonderful smiles and began thinking about his other dreams. Mr. Payne happened to pencil down bringing the Olympics to Atlanta early the following morning. He notably gets up every morning at 5:30 to begin the workday. Mr. Payne’s dream certainly seemed improbable, if not impossible, ever to come to fruition at the time. Despite the myriad of obvious challenges, Mr. Payne dared to dream, and dreams do come true.

 

Importance of Friends

After Mr. Payne shared his dream with his wife, who is without question his best friend, she told him to contact his friends about actually pursuing an Olympic bid. Mr. Payne began reaching out to a number of his colleagues practicing at King & Spalding among other firms. His first telephone call went to his most conservative friend. At first, Mr. Payne recalls a profound silence when he broached his idea, but then his friend responded, “That’s a great idea. How much money can I give?” Mr. Payne’s wife, unbeknownst to him, listed to the conversation to ensure that he would accurately recount it later to her. Mr. Payne’s friends all supported him. In sum, Mr. Payne knew that the collective efforts of friends were immensely more valuable than any single individual effort.

 

Overcoming Challenges

Since the 1996 Olympics marked the centennial anniversary of the games, Athens, Greece initially appeared to be the most compelling location for them. Mr. Payne recounted that the international community had a very limited knowledge of Atlanta, Georgia beyond the Civil War and the struggle for civil rights. In fact, one person even asked Mr. Payne whether gambling was permitted near the games because that person confused Atlanta with Atlantic City in New Jersey. Mr. Payne, nevertheless, continued to persevere with his quest. He stressed the community spirit, as well as volunteerism in Atlanta with the Olympic committee. These common values made the difference because Atlanta was officially announced as the site for the games on September 18, 1990.

 

Best Memory of the Games

While Mr. Payne holds many fond memories of the Olympic games, his finest memory involves Mr. Mohammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame. Mr. Ali’s role was kept as a secret until the very last moment. To this end, Mr. Payne remembers standing in tunnel in the stadium, which was already full of the athletes, and telling Ms. Janet Evans, who is widely considered the best female distance swimmer, “Now give the torch to Mohammed Ali.” Her knees buckled at the news. Mr. Payne recalls being overcome with profound emotion at the historical significance of the lighting of the Olympic flame by Mr. Ali. Simply put, it was the greatest single moment of the games.

 

At the conclusion of our conversation with Mr. Payne, he reminded us that the story of the Olympic games ended where it began. “[A]chieving the improbable and impossible is beyond the talent of any one person, and accordingly, we as individuals must turn to friends.” The bonds of trust from friendships brought the Olympics to Atlanta. Most importantly, these values are the central component to leading a fulfilling life.

A Reflection on the Importance of Mentors

As we welcome the springtime months, we often set expectations and goals for our future legal endeavors, like beginning a new practice, making partner or simply trying a case. These plans inspire us to forge ahead into these beautiful months. A mindfulness of our past experiences, especially the role of mentors, should also guide these future aspirations. So accordingly, I would like to devote this editorial to a mentor of mine, Chief Judge John H. Bailey Jr. of the Northern Judicial Circuit Superior Court, and share one of the many important lessons that he taught me during my clerkship with him several years ago.

Mentors help us bridge the gap between the technical aspects of law school and the life of the law, which according to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., is experience. To illustrate this point: first, Judge Bailey knew from experience that the practice of law extends well beyond a bare interpretation of a statute. Non-lawyers have a tremendous amount of wisdom to offer all of us. By listening to the bailiffs and deputies, we learned about the root causes of disputes and dynamics in the local community. Second, the experience with Judge Bailey fostered an enduring appreciation for individuals, like Mrs. Pam and Mrs. Susan, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure an efficient calendar and timely transcripts. Third and most importantly, Judge Bailey instilled a fundamental sense of fairness in all of us. He would often remark, “No matter how small the pancake, it always has two sides.” At the most basic level, he taught us that the practice of law is distinctly human.

The lessons learned from Judge Bailey continue to grow in meaning even after the clerkship. A mentor is truly a life-long friend. Judge Bailey celebrated with us at our wedding and shared in our joy when we welcomed our first child. Fellow young lawyers, I respectfully ask that each of you take a moment to thank the mentors in your lives. One day we can carry on this fine tradition of mentoring others in our profession.