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JOINING FORCES MY PATH TO H&A STARTED ON THE HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL TEAM
I have plenty of stories from that period of my career, but the main thing I took away is a stronger background in federal law and how the public defense system works. It also gave me thick skin. After seeing what I saw, nothing really shocks me anymore. In the end, the environment wasn’t the best place for my wife and I to raise our growing family. We came home to Chattanooga, where I worked as a gang prosecutor before accepting a job as in-house legal counsel for LifeCare, the nation’s largest private nursing home company. That job was invaluable because it gave me an 80,000-foot view of how nursing home case law was developing all over the country. Now I deal with nursing home cases on a regular basis. After all that experience, I had a desire to settle down and practice the type of law I really enjoy. The next step? Join forces with a former opponent and friend. That’s how I got to Houston & Alexander. With our intimate knowledge of criminal justice, we know when the DA is offering a fair deal and when he isn’t. We can help people find better outcomes, not because of any magic we do, but because we’re diligent and we know from experience what’s possible and what’s not. If you can’t tell from my career path, I’ll say it. I love my job. I enjoy dealing with people, eyeball to eyeball, and holding them accountable. I enjoy it for more than the money. When I come into the office every day, I just never know what’s going to land on my desk. 1 423-267-6715 | TNDUIAttorney.com “Johnny defended two cases I prosecuted, and we came to respect each other’s work.” –Bret Alexander
In the last few issues, you’ve learned about the Houston half of this law firm. Johnny and I agreed that it would be good for me to share a bit of my story and talk about how we started as opponents, grew to be friends, and — eventually — became legal partners. My path to legal practice began in high school on the school’s mock trial team. A local attorney coached the team and became a mentor to me. Eventually he helped me secure the Wilkin’s Scholar award for University of Sewanee — an award that he had received 10 years earlier. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to become a lawyer. After getting my law degree at the University of Texas and moving back to Chattanooga, it was hard to get to trial as a 25-year-old lawyer. So when the opportunity came to work at the district attorney’s office, I took it. From then on, the jobs I took had little to do with the money. I never wanted to be the lawyer who sits in a corporate office all day and lets the money pour in. I wanted to work the courtroom, like I had practiced since high school. I worked as a DUI prosecutor for the DA for three years. Johnny defended two cases I prosecuted, and we came to respect each other’s work. I liked how he handled himself in the courtroom, and after I left the DA’s office, we kept in touch. To continue work in the criminal prosecution sector, I took a position in Yuma, Arizona, to deal with border crimes committed at the federal level. I dealt with everything from felony immigration to heavy narcotics — once even a case about a load of 50 kilos of methamphetamine getting across the border.
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