Jake Watson is a well-known and highly respected lawyer. Though he is based in Huntsville, he practices throughout the State of Alabama. Jake represents folks facing complicated criminal defense matters. He handles the defense of clients charged with murder, manslaughter, white collar criminal offenses, DUI, and other serious matters. He also handles personal injury and car wreck cases, along with family law matters. In addition to Alabama, Jake is licensed to practice law in Montana. He explains his Montana connection during his younger years in the podcast along with the love of all things out west! In fact, he attended law school at Gonzaga University in the State of Washington. It is not too far of a stretch to say that Jake comes from Alabama “legal royalty,” as the son of the legendary and preeminent Alabama lawyer, Herman “Buck” Watson. I enjoyed getting to know Jake and his history on this podcast.
The biggest fear and unknown for every landlord of residential or commercial property is whether their tenant will timely pay his or her rent. For all but the most financially affluent landlords this is, of course, a very big deal. Most landlords have their own obligations to worry about which is why late or no payments on rental property can wreak havoc on their own financial lives. On top of this, it is possible, under existing landlord-tenant laws, for tenants to stay in a rental property for a long time without paying for it. Fortunately, for landlords and property owners in Alabama, attorney Sarah Taggart has mastered the art of eviction law and practices throughout the state. She is smart, compassionate and can get through an eviction process, which is stressful for both the landlords and tenants alike, in a quick and expeditious manner. I never really talked to Sarah before this podcast but I have seen her work in court and her demeanor, professionalism and knowledge in dealing with potentially volatile eviction proceedings is both impressive and noteworthy. I know one thing: If I owned rental property anywhere in the State of Alabama, and had any concerns at all about getting paid, I would have Sarah Taggart on my speed dial! I enjoyed getting to know her on this podcast and I think you will like getting to learn about her story.
I was fortunate to be able to sit down recently and catch up with attorney Matt Hancock. Matt has been on my list to talk to for a long time and I am glad that we were both able to finally schedule this podcast. Matt practices with the highly regarded law firm of Wolfe Jones. Their offices are located in Huntsville and Athens but their law practice reaches throughout the state of Alabama. Matt practices in the areas of bankruptcy, commercial law and creditors' rights. Matt is one of those lawyers that has mastered his areas of practice while, at the same time, remaining humble, down to earth and easy to talk to. He is a sought after CLE speaker with regard to these areas of practice. Creditors are very well represented when Matt is their lawyer and I say this with in-depth knowledge since Matt practices law for the "other side," against the clients we represent. He is respected by both sides of the bar for his excellent work over the years. It was a lot of fun to catch up with him on this podcast.
Frank Ward is a highly respected and well regarded lawyer who handles cases throughout North Alabama. He is best known for representing individuals who find themselves in the unenviable position of having been charged with Driving Under the Influence (or "DUI"). Simply being charged with a DUI can be detrimental to one's career and standing in the community so it is best to have a skilled DUI lawyer on your side. Frank focuses on all aspects of DUI law to include driver's license issues and, down the road, possible expungement under Alabama law. Frank has an extensive background in trial work and really is able to get good outcomes for many of his clients in the most unfortunate of circumstances. What I respect about Frank is his ability to not just see the individual case for what it is, but he is also very good at focusing on all of his clients' issues as they relate to their employment and family lives. In this area of the country, where security clearances are very important to getting and holding a good job, this is a much-needed attribute. Frank law practice also focuses on estate planning and estate administration. He is a good guy and well-liked by his clients. I enjoyed getting to know him on this podcast.
Huntsville, Alabama is on track to become Alabama's largest city in the next six years. And that doesn't even include the growth in all of the surrounding communities such as Madison, Athens, Decatur, Cullman, Scottsboro and Southern Tennessee. The growth in our community seems to be announced in some form or fashion at least a couple of times each month.
Metropolitan growth results in large part from strong leadership. It is not an overstatement to say that attorney Joe Ritch has had a great deal to do with the growth of North Alabama over the last twenty five or so years. Joe is a partner at the long-standing and highly regarded law firm of Sirote and Permutt. As an attorney, I can tell you that the practice of law is a full time job. Joe, however, also found time to serve as the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Base Realignment Commission (BRAC) for several years. Additionally, he served as a board member and then Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Prior to all of this, Joe was instrumental in getting the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) Charger hockeyteam started and he is a member of the UAH Charger Hall of Honor and the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. Joe is a talented, smart and driven attorney who has contributed greatly to the growth and positive development of North Alabama and I think you will enjoy hearing his story.
"When society confers the privilege to practice law on an individual, he or she accepts the responsibility to promote justice and to make justice equally accessible to all people. Thus, all lawyers should aspire to render some legal services without fee or expectation of fee for the good of the public." The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service.
Here in North Alabama, we are blessed to have lawyers involved in a very vibrant and active pro-bono community. The Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program (MCVLP) serves hundreds of clients each year with thousands of pro bono legal hours. There are many well-respected lawyers who are anxious to perform pro bono legal work through this organization.
The Executive Director of MCVLP is Nicole Schroer. Nicole previously worked as a partner at the highly regarded law firm of Wilmer and Lee. While there, she did a lot of non-profit work in her "free time," to include long and active involvement, including as president, of the Junior League of Huntsville. She then decided to invest herself in giving back on a full time basis through her work overseeing MCVLP. I enjoyed getting to know Nicole and learning more about her background and passion for serving others in this podcast. Our community is a better place as a result of Nicole's many contributions. We are fortunate to have her amongst us.
I attended a recent NOVA conference where I was able to sit down with attorney Chris Attig. Chris has a law practice devoted solely to helping veterans. This makes sense since Chris has served as a U.S. Army field artillery officer and a paratrooper and he also attended Ranger school. He is very well respected in this area of law. Chris does a great service to veterans' lawyers as he spends a good bit of his time teaching and instructing others on how to best help veterans. Chris is focused, driven and very intelligent, and he is also has the ability to crystalize concepts down to a pretty basic and understandable level. I enjoyed getting to know him and his story on this podcast.
I think I have heard the phrase "judicial temperament" more in the last couple of months than I have throughout my entire life. For me, a way to describe and define judicial temperament is to simply say the name of Judge Dennis O'Dell. He is a long-standing Circuit Court Judge in Madison County Alabama. He is, of course, knowledgeable, wise and well-respected. Beyond those qualities, he also takes great pains to treat all litigants and lawyers who appear before him fairly and respectfully, with a dose of good humor and a ready smile. We have really been blessed here in North Alabama to have a judge like Dennis O'Dell. That will be evident when you listen to this podcast. Judge O'Dell is retiring from the bench soon and, as I implore him on this podcast, the citizens of Alabama would be very well served if he would consider a run at the Alabama Supreme Court!