Jaimee Elizabeth Hunter: A Tale of Perseverance in Pursuit of Justice
In the heart of Alabama, where the pursuit of justice meets the spirit of determination, attorney Jaimee Elizabeth Hunter shines as a beacon of unwavering perseverance. Her remarkable journey through the legal world is a testament to her tenacity and dedication. Despite facing numerous setbacks along the way, Hunter’s passion for the law remains unshaken.
Owner and founder of Elizabeth Hunter LLC, a criminal defense, civil rights, and personal injury law firm, located in Birmingham, Alabama, Hunter’s journey began with humble origins. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, she, her twin sister and two brothers were brought up in a home steeped in love and limitless support. The importance of education and giving back was impressed upon the siblings from an early age by parents who not only talked the talk but walked the walk.
“My mother is a child protective services supervisor,” she says, “with a big heart and tremendous empathy. While we were growing up, my dad was a probation officer and recently opened his own practice as a therapist, New Beginnings, LLC. My mother and father are amazing listeners. Both of them are such caring, giving people and I like to think I’ve been blessed with attributes from both of them.
“Really listening and being empathetic are both critical to being a good attorney,” Hunter adds. “If you can find an attorney who is truly empathetic, not sympathetic, but one who can see things from your perspective, you’ve found an attorney who can really fight for you with a full appreciation of what you want for an outcome.”
Really listening and being empathetic are both critical to being a good attorney.
A Drive to Succeed
In her youth, Hunter was the recipient of various academic awards, including membership in the National Society of High School Scholars due to her rigorous academics. At the age of 17, she made her way to Washington, D.C., where she was offered a private scholarship to The Washington Center for Public Administration and Politics. Thereafter, she received a full academic scholarship to Howard University where she studied administration of justice and graduated with honors in 2012.
After setting a goal, Hunter, a driven and disciplined woman, always stayed the course and persevered regardless of the obstacles. While in college, Hunter set her sights on a career in law. Her determination to achieve that goal was tested time and time again. A casual observer might note her many awards, scholarships, and career achievements and assume hers has been a direct and easy path. Not so, says Hunter.
“I think one of my strongest traits is my perseverance,” she says. “My journey hasn’t been easy. It’s been filled with failures and a lot of no’s, but that’s also one of the reasons I appreciate what I have accomplished.”
One of the biggest obstacles she faced was the bar exam. “I took the bar exam five times before finally passing,” she says. “It wasn’t just the fact that it took so many attempts – which is certainly hard enough on your self-confidence – it was the demoralizing negative comments I received. One in particular was especially hard to take, it was a judge who very bluntly asked me, ‘What makes you think you’ll ever become an attorney?’ At the time it was very upsetting, but now I can’t even remember his name. Ironically, those kinds of negative comments made me even more determined to succeed.
I always knew what kind of lawyer I wanted to be, and with my name on the door, I have the autonomy to stay true to that ideal.
“Then there were the feelings of rejection when one law firm or another didn’t want to hire me or didn’t appreciate my capabilities,” she adds.
After obtaining her law license, Hunter became a public defender in Henry County, Georgia. She also worked as an attorney in family law and personal injury. By adopting rigorous and aggressive approaches, she soon developed her own personality in the legal arena.
“There were feelings of rejection in the job market as well when one law firm or another didn’t want to hire me or an employer didn’t appreciate my capabilities,” she says. “Ultimately, it all worked out because those are some of the reasons I decided to open my own firm. I always knew what kind of lawyer I wanted to be, and with my name on the door, I have the autonomy to stay true to that ideal.”
Of course, not everyone in Hunter’s life was so discouraging. Her family, for instance, has always been supportive and confident in her abilities. Then there was the professor she had in her freshman year who was so impressed with one of her assignments he shared it with the class and then spoke to her privately.
“At that time, I was still trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up,” she says with a light chuckle. “I had written a paper reflecting on my future and he was quite impressed. He said, ‘This paper is not only one of the most intriguing papers I’ve ever read, but you need to go after your dream and your passion, you’d make an excellent lawyer.’ I think that’s when I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”
One of the most striking qualities that define Hunter is her unwavering empathy and compassion. These traits set her apart as an attorney who not only understands the complexities of the law but also the human emotions and experiences that accompany it. Hunter has a unique ability to connect with her clients on a profound level, making them feel heard, valued, and supported during their most challenging moments.
“For a lot of attorneys, their clients are basically what’s in the case file, but I really get to know those I represent,” she says. “They are someone’s child, someone’s brother or sister, maybe someone’s mom or dad. The only difference between those who I defend and anyone else is that they may have stumbled into something they shouldn’t have or made a mistake.”
Hunter is equally forthright when it comes to the downside.
“Some might think I get too close,” Hunter continues, “and it can be draining at times when you’ve invested emotionally. You empathize with the mother, sister or girlfriend. You can’t help but think, ‘how would I feel?’ but as soon as you do that you find yourself up at midnight talking to the mother who just needs to be reassured or calmed down. But I believe when people see that you are genuine, that you really are interested in who they are not just what they are accused of, they become more open. And I’m always completely honest with my client, I won’t sugar coat.”
Communication, says Hunter, is the most important aspect of being a good defense attorney. “I’ve heard from numerous clients that our communication is something we should pride ourselves on,” she says. “I give out my cell phone number and they can contact me at any time, and they do! It’s important you communicate with them, and they know what’s going on. That’s not just applicable to clients but also employees. It might be something as simple as having a conversation with an employee, giving them the opportunity to express their feelings. It lets them know that they are valued, and they are important.”
On the Horizon
As her firm continues to thrive and grow, Hunter says she has plans for expansion. “Right now, I’m actively looking to bring on more attorneys,” she says. “I’d like to have a presence in more counties. For instance, Mobile is about four hours away, so I’d like to have an office there. I’m also considering branching out to open an office in Ohio. I’d also like to do more pro bono work. Most importantly though when looking to the future, I just want to continue to grow and improve as an attorney.”
When it comes to personal time, Hunter enjoys spending time with friends and family. “I spend a lot of time with my twin sister and two nieces and nephew who live only about 20 minutes away,” she says. “I also love to watch crime documentaries. That might sound funny, but it actually helps me take my mind off my own cases for a little while.”
Hunter’s reputation as a dedicated and compassionate attorney has garnered her respect among her peers and the legal community at large. Her courtroom presence is marked by an unwavering commitment to advocating for her clients’ rights, and her track record of achieving favorable outcomes in challenging cases speaks volumes for her legal prowess.
Her journey, marked by determination and resilience, serves as an inspiration to aspiring lawyers and individuals facing their own uphill battles. She understands that success is not always immediate or easily attained, but it is the result of relentless perseverance.
“One of the reasons I agreed to do this interview is because I hope to encourage other young lawyers or law students who are struggling,” she says. “Every challenge only helps to make you a better lawyer and it makes your successes all the sweeter.”
Every challenge only helps to make you a better lawyer and it makes your successes all the sweeter.
AT A GLANCE
Elizabeth Hunter Law Firm
120 19th ST. North #2510
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
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