Amiee Nwabuike: Joining the Bigger Community

Amiee Nwabuike

Amiee Nwabuike’s plan when she graduated from N.C. State with a Bachelor of Arts in political science was for a career in law, but she’s always been connected to the bigger community. “I know this is a lofty ideal, but truly, at my core, I would like to see society be a better place for everyone,” said Nwabuike.

The Chicago-born Nwabuike was encouraged by her father from an early age to become a lawyer. She earned her Juris Doctor from UNC School of Law and is now an associate at O’Malley Tunstall.

The firm handles a variety of personal injury cases, in particular slip-and-fall accidents. “These cases get a bad rap with most other firms and attorneys because of North Carolina’s strict contributory negligence rule, but we’ve been able to find a lot of success with them. Ultimately, you have to look for the same elements in a slip and fall that you would in any personal injury case.”

Nwabuike said she looks for damages, liability, and coverage when representing clients in a slip and fall injury. “At the end of the day, when I have good relationships with clients, it’s very impactful to see the good I have done by the end of a case.”

One of her responsibilities is conducting monthly focus groups to find out what potential jurors may think about a case. She said they bear the scars of recent history.

“I think the people I’ve seen have a harder time resonating with our injured clients than they might have in the past. They’re less open to entertaining other people’s trauma and injuries because there’s so much exhaustion we’re all feeling from hardships like COVID and the recession.

“That’s not to say they don’t have that capacity to care.

“As attorneys, we’re showing jurors why they should care by focusing on the wrong that was done to a person. Someone did a harmful action that was negligent or unsafe, and someone was hurt. [We tell juries] if you let them continue, they could hurt someone else.”

Leadership Roles

Nwabuike is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ), and she was part of the NCAJ Next Leadership Program in 2023.

“The goal of the NCAJ Next Leadership program is to build leaders not only in the NCAJ but within the practice of law across the state,” said Nwabuike.

“During the program, we had several amazing speakers and some legends from NCAJ meet with us, including Janet Ward Black (a former NCAJ president). She gave us a lesson on leadership that stuck with me: ‘The path to being a leader is to say what you’re gonna do, do it well, and do it on time.’ I think that is the best way to summarize how you can be a person of integrity and trust no matter what role or position you’re in.

“I’ve been taking some leadership roles in the NCAJ. I think it’s a really good way to get that sense of community—that sense that I’m helping something larger than myself. I would encourage any trial lawyers in the state to join. You’re gonna spend so much time practicing law anyways, why not be part of a bigger community of attorneys while you’re at it?”

Nwabuike got a firsthand look at one community issue as an urban runner. “As a personal injury attorney, it’s easy to see firsthand how bad road and urban design leads to accidents and injuries. Whether you’re a driver, a jogger, or a cyclist, there should be a safe option for everyone.”

“I am part of a national group called Strong Towns, which advocates for walkable cities, public transportation, and safer roads. I would like to see a future where the Triangle is less car-dependent and where people have transportation options outside of owning and driving a personal vehicle.”

Focus on Three Things

Nwabuike says she has gained some valuable insights during her first five years in practice.

“Your clients will never complain about you getting their case resolved faster and talking to them more. For negotiations, remember that you can always come down but never go back up. And finally, be flexible and be kind to yourself. Just because some things don’t go according to plan doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself in a better place,” Nwabuike said.

“The key to a good attorney? I think three things: efficient case resolution, effective communication, and skilled legal work. I feel like if I can master these, I’m well on my way to being a good attorney whose clients benefit from the work I do.”

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