My Story. Why I do what I do
Here is why I do, what I do and when it started. Representing Injured People and Those Accused of Crimes.
2004/Michigan. Since it all started in Michigan, 2004, I have only represented people. Rarely do I represent businesses or corporations. I have never helped wealthy people make more money. I don’t draft will unless the United States Army has me doing it as a Judge Advocate General. (I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the Utah Army National Judge Advocate Corps). My legal practice has always been helping people accused of crimes or people injured through no fault of their own seeking compensation.
Criminal defense and personal injury law–that’s it.
I don’t Represent Insurance Companies. I don’t do business-to-business transactions or help business defend off employee claims or represent insurance companies. Although the US Army occasionally has me prosecuting cases, or during my Michigan days I would occasionally contract prosecute–I am not a former prosecutor.
All my days in criminal defense have been on the hard end of cases—The Defense.
People as Clients. I constantly represent the small person, the underdog. My clients are constantly outgunned by insurance companies who have the money to hire all the experts needed, regardless of case size. I am not a prosecuting attorney where they have an entire police force or FBI on their side along with the great weight of the United States Government. It is just me, my staff, my law firm and my clients defending accusations of wrongdoing or helping injured people.
The Start in 2004–Solo Practice. It was early 2004 and I had just passed the Michigan bar with flying colors. My wife was in the middle of her PhD at the University of Michigan, so I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Michigan was in double digit unemployment. The U.S. economy was terrible and upper Midwest rust belt especially was hurting. No one was hiring attorneys.
I went solo, age 24.
Attorney John R. Bailey. Renting Some Space. Licensed at age 24 years old with no job, no clients, no skills and no experience, I entered solo practice and rented space from attorney John R. Bailey. (734) 485-3232. That’s still his number.
I met with him because he was the first to answer my call from the phone book as his last name started with “B.” At the 15-minute meeting he told me “$400 rent. You can use my old phone and desk, but you need to get you own phone line.” My first chair was fire orange and I found it on the side of the road with a “free sign” on it. My daily driving truck didn’t have a muffler and that didn’t help attracting clients.
Ypsilanti Bar Association. My office space that I rented had a suite of lawyers in the building. The bankruptcy attorneys were upstairs. The worker’s compensation attorneys and part-time injury attorneys were next door. Nik Lulgjuraj one afternoon told me we were both going to the Ypsilanti Bar Association monthly dinner. All the local lawyers from the eastern side of Washtenaw County (Ann ArborUMich) would meet on the third Wednesday of each month in Ypsilanti, Michigan at Haab’s Diner. A rotating list was administered and three lawyers paid for everyone. Drinks were on you and all the local judges and lawyers showed up. It was informal mentoring, drinking and socializing with two rules—no politics and don’t talk about cases you may have with another attorney. These rules were blatantly violated all the time.
Judge Tabbey and Start of Court Appointments. Judge Kirk W. Tabbey (Ret) felt bad for me after meeting me at the Ypsilanti Bar dinners and start giving me court appointments. In turn Judge J. Cedric Simpson and the many of the other circuit court judges started giving me court appointments after I met them. I was able to pay the bills with these initial court appointments. I also took a tremendous amount of child welfare cases, defending parents and children accused of child abuse and delinquency.
My early child welfare cases working with the poor, the downtrodden and vulnerable, significantly shaped the type of lawyer I am today.
The irony is that I nearly tried many of these court appointed cases to a jury trial. I am sure the judges where happy that poor people were being aggressively represented, but not happy that their afternoons were filled with waiting for the jury to come back with its verdict.
Today, 2024/Utah. Nearly 20 years later I now exclusively represent people accused of crimes or injured through no fault of their own. I am a partner owner at Howard Lewis & Petersen, PC—est. 1950.