Attorney at Law Magazine Jacksonville Publisher Tom Brady sat down with Rodney Gregory to discuss his firm.
AALM: Tell us about the founding of your firm. What compelled you to start your own practice?
GREGORY: I became a Florida Bar member in December 1979; starting as an assistant attorney general for six months, then assistant state attorney for five years. In February 1985, I became a private practitioner. The justice system works best when people have an advocate to serve and protect their legal interests. I joined the private sector to be an advocate for justice for all my clients, and helping victims receive due process in the courts. I’ve never regretted that decision.
AALM: What first drew you to the legal field? And to your practice areas in particular?
GREGORY: I like the challenge as a litigator of making quick decisions on demand. No profession outside of the legal field affords the vast opportunities to use a unique set of skills to help another. Trial and appellate litigation is how I cut my teeth! Listen, negotiate and litigate is what I do best.
AALM: Who are your legal heroes and how do you aspire to emulate them? Have you had any mentors that have helped shape your career?
GREGORY: Perry Mason, Atticus Finch, Spencer Tracy in “Judgement at Nuremberg,” are three of my earliest role models. Common thread, a thirst and hunger for truth, discovered through creative diligence. My greatest mentor was my father for his volunteer contributions to our community; and my mother for the heart and soul that keeps the faith through all of the trials and tribulations.
AALM: How has your firm evolved since its inception? How is it different than you envisioned?
GREGORY: From a one-man, jack-of-all-trades to a litigator’s offensive line, we’ve experienced growth despite the odds against us because we remain persistent and always pay it forward. The longer I practice, the more I accept the image in the mirror is real.
AALM: Tell us about your team? How do you work together?
GREGORY: Our boutique law firm has a certain synergy that is hard to verbally quantify. We naturally “Walk by Faith, not by Sight.” We are quite diverse. Currently we have an African-American with decades of litigation expertise, an Irish-American who has been barred for 18 months, a newly graduated French native, a newly graduated West Indian, and a 3L Hispanic law clerk. We are united by our willingness to be problem solvers without unnecessary drama.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of your firm? What is the brand you have attempted to create?
GREGORY: Our culture is vibrant, creative, thoughtful, positive and candid. We stand our ground! Our brand “Advocates for Justice” is all-inclusive from a plaintiff ’s perspective.
AALM: How do you balance running a business with practicing law?
GREGORY: I have a Bachelor of Science in management from the University of Illinois. The practice of law is the key to our existence, but the business aspect is the house to be opened. A key without a lock, a house without a key is a lose-lose. If you don’t handle business you can’t afford to practice law.
AALM: Are there any cases that affected the way you approach the law? Any cases that stand out as significant in shaping your career?
GREGORY: I’ve learned and grown more significantly when I’ve failed to meet objectives. Pain brews respect and a greater appreciation for the motivation to do better next time. Bruises can heal. They only become infected if not treated. It’s always easier and better to win, but a win should also arise from a loss.
AALM: How is your firm involved in the legal community and local community?
GREGORY: I am extremely active in the legal and local community. I have more than 30 years of active committee and leadership involvement in the American Association for Justice, Florida, Justice Association, Public Justice, Melvin Belli Society, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Pound Institute for Civil Justice, National Bar Association, National Urban League, NAACP and so many others.
AALM: As you look into the future, how do you see your firm evolving?
GREGORY: As I look into the future, I pay it forward daily. I see our small firm sharpening our focus on cases involving greater significant and substantial damages in the personal injury areas, larger estates, and higher risks liberty deprivation.
AALM: Are there any changes within your firm coming in the near future that you’re excited about?
GREGORY: Yes, all new recruits being barred and having the “practice squad” become the front line offense! Further, watching the progress of several of our mass tort litigation cases including those in Orlando, Florida for the Pulse Night Club; Flint, Michigan for the toxic water poisoning; Baltimore for police misconduct; and Chicago for stop and frisk class action. Each case has dozens of clients and should prove interesting.
AALM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
GREGORY: Orchides forum tradhite; cordes et mentes veniant!