Thirty-seven years ago, Henry Staley created Staley Law Firm with the notion that integrity and compassion for the client are essential components in maintaining a successful firm. Here, Mr. Staley shares the trials of law school, career motivations, and qualities an effective attorney must maintain.
Where did you go to undergraduate school and law school? Why did you choose that law school?
I went to the University of Virginia to undergraduate school. After graduating, I worked for Maryland Casualty Insurance Company in Richmond, Virginia as a Claims Adjuster and then as a Claims Supervisor. I decided to go to law school in the evenings and continue working for Maryland Casualty Company. I transferred to Atlanta and attended Atlanta Law School at night.
What were the most challenging aspects of acquiring your law degree and securing your first legal job after passing the Bar?
I worked full time with Maryland Casualty Company and went to law school in the evenings. It was challenging to arrange my time to work, go to school and to study. I was offered a job 3 days after I passed the Bar Exam in which I shared space and expenses with five other lawyers. I have always been in practice for myself so the challenge was to build a law practice.
What advice do you have for someone who is contemplating going to law school?
Law school is financially expensive and requires many hours of hard work. Be certain you are ready and willing to do this. If so, then give it your best effort and the experience will be rewarding.
What type of case do you represent most often?
Our firm handles personal injury and workers’ compensation cases exclusively. My background in the insurance industry taught me how insurance companies think and what they are looking for in order to help my clients get the best possible outcome on their case.
What motivated you to become a lawyer? What motivates you to continue practicing law?
I realized while working for the insurance company that I loved the complex legal issues and challenges that I was faced with each day. I wanted to further my education and go to law school. I thoroughly enjoy my interactions with clients and being able to help them in difficult situations and this has motivated me to practice law for 37 years and to continue doing so.
When not practicing law, what are your hobbies?
I have always loved the outdoors. My wife and I have two boys and family and friends have always been important to me. I enjoy hiking, fishing, and boating. We have a vacation home on an island off of the Georgia coast and I enjoy putting out crab traps, digging oysters, digging clams, throwing the cast net to get shrimp and fishing offshore. I also enjoy sailing and reading.
Regarding your career, what is your biggest achievement?
To have my own law practice and to develop it over the years.
What differentiates your firm from other firms practicing similar law?
We are a smaller firm. There are two attorneys, Garrett Tomlinson and me. We handle all cases rather than turning them over to paralegals to handle as many larger firms do. We strive to give good service and personal attention. We stress communication with our clients and encourage them to contact us whenever they like.
A successful attorney must have compassion for their clients’ problems. He must have a love for the law and look forward to helping his clients handle the issues they are faced with. Communication between the attorney and client is essential. As with any profession, integrity is of the utmost importance.