Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with defense-turned-plaintiff’s attorney Trevor Hawes of Coker Law to discuss his career. He has more than 22 years of experience in personal injury claims and brings his decades of experience and knowledge as a defense attorney working with insurance companies to the benefit of his clients.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
TH: It would be difficult to say that there was one moment or event that drew me to this career. The same is probably true for many things in my life. Over time I saw that I had an ability to stand in front of groups of people without crippling anxiety and make myself heard. I also realized that, more important than an ability to speak to a crowd, was my ability to listen and understand what people were telling me. After realizing that those were skills well suited to a life as an attorney, and with some very helpful direction from family and close friends, pursuing law school and a career as a lawyer made sense.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
TH: In short, losses. Playing soccer in my younger years was instrumental in teaching me how to lose. I learned very early that being able to lose without being defeated permits learning about why you lost, and more importantly what you can do to improve the next time. This concept carried through into my legal career. I believe I have learned a great deal more from opponents and situations where my decisions or strategies did not prevail. Appreciating that proposition, as difficult as it was to accept many times, not only helped improve my capabilities as a lawyer, but it also had the secondary benefit of instructing me on the importance of professionalism. Knowing that I was as likely to learn something from an opponent as a mentor naturally directed me to try to work collaboratively to problem solving even in the adversarial arena that is litigation.
AALM: What do you find particularly rewarding about your practice?
TH: The ability to help people is really the key. In my practice, no matter what the legal problem, at least two people were in the center. Unfortunately, with a personal injury practice that often means at least one person is undergoing a life altering situation. Finding solutions that help redirect negative outcomes that permit healing and resolution, to me is the height of professional satisfaction.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? Tell us about your role there.
TH: I became acquainted with Coker Law not long after moving to Jacksonville. My earliest interactions showed me that this was a group of lawyers whose capabilities and skill were admirable. As the years drew on, I had the pleasure of trying several cases against them. Each of those cases reinforced my earliest impressions of the firm and its lawyers. Simply put, it was a level of skill and professionalism that I liked to be around, even as an opponent. Finally, I decided that I needed a new challenge in my career and Coker Law was gracious enough to provide me with the opportunity to realize that.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of the firm?
TH: Take the work seriously, yourself less so. Have fun and appreciate those around you, and the privilege you have to practice law. The concept of just getting the job done is non-existent. The work must be done right and done right the first time. Only battles requiring a fight must be fought.
AALM: Tell us about your fellow attorneys at the firm? How do you work together?
TH: I was a defense attorney with a statewide practice for more than 20 years before coming to Coker Law. In that time, I encountered numerous lawyers and law firms. Without hyperbole, I can easily say that there is a depth and breadth of knowledge, skill, capability and experience at Coker Law that is not matched.
In my prior practice, oftentimes I was the only person working on a case or had only one colleague assisting. At Coker Law a collaborative approach to cases is a true hallmark of its proven success.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
TH: Unquestionably first, my family. This kind of work cannot be done well alone or without a support system. My support system happens to be my wife and children who, even if they are unaware, drive me with positivity and hope. The burden on them is crazy; travel, late hours, grouchy moods – I must have done something really good in a prior life to deserve them.
After family, I would have to say that I am proud that I was able to step out of my prior comfort zone of a 20-year defense practice and into new challenges with a plaintiff’s practice. I really enjoy focusing on trial work and now I now get to spend time developing my craft with people for whom I have the highest admiration and respect.
AALM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?
TH: With teenage children a great deal of our time is spent on outdoor sports like surfing, snowboarding and mountain biking. I have both the benefit and lament of watching them not only progress, but progress well beyond me.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10?
TH: I hope to never get caught in a rut where I am doing the same thing without trying to innovate or learn. I want to encourage those around me to push me and I push them. In the next 10 years, I want to be where I am, doing what I am doing, with the people I enjoy doing this work.