In the latest rising star profile, Attorney at Law Magazine First Coast sat down with David Thompson of Coker Law to discuss his career and his aspirations for the future.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney?
DT: From a young age my mother and I would watch lawyer/courtroom shows which created a passion in me for the law. I loved the attorneys in the courtroom figuring out “who dun it.” From a young age I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and began doing mock trials and teen court in high school. Growing up, my mother and I would often get into discussions which usually ended with her saying, “You should be a lawyer.” As they say, mother knows best.
AALM: How is the practice of law different than your expectations in law school?
DT: Law school teaches you book smarts, but the real world is more practical than that. Just because you can file something does not mean you should. Jacksonville is a very small legal community in a very big city. I teach students that your reputation follows you and can be tarnished quickly, so be mindful of how you act in front of judges and to other attorneys, because word travels fast.
AALM: What drew you to your current firm?
DT: Trial work. From the State Attorney’s Office to a large in-house insurance defense firm, I tried a lot of cases. Luckily, while on the defense I was able to watch the attorneys at Coker Law try cases firsthand. I decided to switch sides and have never looked back. There is a true family atmosphere here which makes it a great place to work. I would describe my role in the office as an attorney who can bring in cases, work them up from the beginning and take them to trial against the best the defense bar has to offer. I am very competitive and love a good challenge.
AALM: Tell us a trait you most admire in the firm’s senior partners. What’s something new you’d like to see used more in practice?
DT: The art of storytelling. Trying cases at this firm, you can tell that the partners have a way of putting you in the story. Through their story you can hear the pain and angst of a client who can no longer do the things they loved to do before. As a new generation lawyer, I would adopt more use of technology to accentuate our arguments since a good portion of the population are visual learners.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
DT: I love to travel. Since both my parents were in the military, I got to see a lot more of this country and world at a young age than many of my peers. Now I get to share that passion with my wife and kids to show them there is a whole world of wonder, breathtaking sights, great food and amazing cultures out there. You just have to go explore it.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
DT: Becoming a judge is probably at the top of that list; however, before that, the last thing I want to accomplish is becoming board certified in civil trial law. It is the last feather in my proverbial hat. Honestly, when it is all said and done, what I most want to accomplish is being remembered as an attorney who did things the right way, who did not play games and was good at his craft. Someone who my kids can look up to and feel proud of their name.