Each month an Auto Torts Section member responds to a few questions regarding their practice and experience, growth and changes in the auto torts practice area. This month, the “Interrogatories” spotlight is focused on Randolph (Tre’) Morgan III with Nicholls & Crampton, P.A. I, on behalf of Auto Torts Section members, would like to send a huge thank you to Tre’ for his excellent article. Enjoy!
Randolph “Tre'” Morgan III graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He received his juris doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, where he served on the staff of the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation for two years. He began his career working for several years in insurance defense. In 2004 he joined the plaintiff’s bar and practices at Nicholls & Crampton, P.A., 3700 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 500, Raleigh, North Carolina 27612
His contact information is: Telephone: (919) 781-1311, Fax: (919) 782-0465, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) What was your first trial and how did it go?
I tried my first case solo eight months out of law school. My insured was a convicted crack cocaine dealer with a slight credibility problem (and the plaintiff made sure the jury knew it). It was a minor impact soft tissue case with thorough chiropractic treatment. The adjuster handling the case was the unit manager, and a close personal friend of my senior partner. The carrier picked this case as their test case for “MIST” cases in Mecklenburg County. The adjuster attended the trial. During the lunch break, he grilled me on questions, strategy, etc…Fortunately we obtained a zero damages verdict from the jury. But, it took some days off of my life.
2) What did you learn most from mentoring lawyers when you started?
I learned a good deal about legal marketing from my first position. The insurance defense business is highly competitive, and marketing is the life blood of a lot of firms. I also gained invaluable courtroom experience. Most importantly, I learned that I was not afraid of the courtroom.
3) What would you share with a young lawyer now?
First, your area of practice will not be nearly as important to your career satisfaction as the people you practice with and against. Secondly, that a good legal assistant is worth his/her weight in gold, and should be treated accordingly. And lastly, don’t let anybody tell you that practicing law is not a business, or that it is just a business.
4) How has the insurance defense bar changed?
I left the insurance defense bar in 2004. At that time, the carriers were really tightening the reins on defense firm billing. There were already strict coding requirement for invoices and time entry. But, I spent hours each week on the phone with various carriers trying to justify time that was already being billed at very low hourly rates. Paralegals hired by the carriers slashed bills and then forced firms to appeal those decisions to get paid. Some carriers were also requiring firms to adopt flat rate billing structures for cases with certain litigation events triggering new payment levels. By the time I left, some carriers were refusing to pay for travel time, which is brutal for regional defense firms that have cases all over the state.
5) What is the state of the auto practice in North Carolina?
I think that there is too little respect between the two sides of the practice. I was constantly surprised by the personal enmity that adjusters and defense attorneys displayed towards plaintiffs and the plaintiffs’ bar. When I switched sides, I was equally surprised by the enmity of some members of the plaintiffs’ bar towards adjusters. What I’ve learned from being on both sides is that adjusters and attorneys on both sides are generally good people trying to do the best job that they can on a particular case.
6) Who was the first client who touched you and why?
One of my first clients was an elderly lady that was scared to death when she was sued. She was very sweet, but very intimidated by the entire process. When we resolved her case, she sent me a handwritten card saying that she thanked God that I had been sent to her to watch over her through the process. I still keep that card as a reminder that there are clients that truly appreciate my help.