Corban Gunn runs a solo practice firm in Biloxi, Mississippi. Known as one of the toughest and hardest working solo lawyers in his area, Corban knows how to get the job done when it comes to settling cases and isn’t afraid to put the time in to make sure his clients are treated right. Below, he stresses the importance of due diligence and respecting both parties involved in a given case.
Lawyer Minds: Corban, first of all, tell me a little bit about your practice in Mississippi.
Corban Gunn: My practice is primarily and almost exclusively personal injury work, handling serious personal injuries, everything from people being injured in a car wreck to complex, seriously injured people with multiple parties. So that’s primarily my practice. I do some other things on the side. I represent my local city in litigation. I also help people sometimes with criminal defense work, but primarily I handle personal injury work or serious personal injury work.
Lawyer Minds: You know, Corban, with Lawyer Minds, the whole principle is that we as lawyers all have something that we’ve learned in the course of our practices that we think might help other lawyers that are out there. Can you tell me something that you’ve learned in your practice that you think might be beneficial to others that are reading this article?
Corban Gunn: You know, I’m a sixth generation Mississippian and a fifth generation Mississippi lawyer. That goes back to my great-great-grandfather riding the circuit. You had circuit courts and my grandfather actually rode the circuit by horseback as a judge. And I practiced law with my father for approximately 10 years. I got to learn how he did things and the smartest thing my father ever told me is that every lawyer has to find their own way and I practice law differently than my father did.
I think what I have learned is especially useful for people that are in a more conservative area, where everybody knows everybody and you’re going to see them again, as opposed to lawyers that may work in larger metropolises or larger states that have many, many, many millions of people. Working in a small state, you’re going to see people again. And they’re going to remember how you acted. What I have found is that it’s important for attorneys to be diligent.
People get enamored with large verdicts if you’re a personal injury attorney or a plaintiff’s attorney, whether that be an individual or a business, but I think what people actually respect nowadays is diligence. Being diligent, pushing your case the right way, treating people the right way. When you say something and you say you’re going to do something, you do it. I think that’s almost more important nowadays, especially for lawyers who practice personal injury work because a lot of times, nowadays, as opposed to back in the day, the fifth attorneys or whoever practices defense law, especially insurance defense law, all they can give is a recommendation. They have less of a hand in the outcome because the insurance adjuster or the insurance lawyer or in-house lawyer has the ultimate say.
And so attorneys learn to not give the final outcome much weight. But I’ve found that all attorneys respect diligence– that you’re going to do something that you say you’re going to do and that you push your case like you say you’re going to push it. I think that people remember that and not get as enamored with who gets what at the end of the day. Because you never know, it’s kind of like I tell people all the time, a case is like a deck of cards.
You deal with the cards that you’re dealt, and every case has fleas, meaning every case has problems. And so the way that you push that case, the way that you follow up on that case, the way that you treat the other lawyer, and the way you treat the other parties becomes more important.
Now, I’m one of the toughest guys around. Everybody knows that, but I don’t have to prove it all the time. I think that you’ve got to understand that when you say you’re going to do something, do it. And then when you follow up on something, follow up on it and don’t let it sit. I think a lot of people in our practices– and I’ve caught myself doing it as well– let things sit. And I’m trying my hardest, especially over the last year to really do the things that you’re supposed to do, meaning follow the rules.
If you’re supposed to get discovery done in 30 days, get it done. If you’re supposed to file a response to a motion within 10 days, file the freaking response. When people do what they’re supposed to do, specifically following the rules to be diligent, you gain more respect.
Lawyer Minds: Do you have any tips or tricks as to how you make sure stuff doesn’t drop off your calendar or to-do list to make sure you’re getting everything done?
Corban Gunn: Of course, everyone has calendars. And so, having a good calendar is important. When I sit down during the first part of the day, I know some people have checklists on their phone or checklists on the computer. I have a little pad that I write things down on. Get this done, get this done, get this done. Check it off, check it off, check it off. That’s how I, as a person who does 20 things at once, stay on task. I know that’s kind of elementary, but it works.
Lawyer Minds: When you talk about practicing in smaller areas and treating people the right way, does that go back to working with your father and knowing your grandfather and how he practiced?
Corban Gunn: I don’t think it has anything to do with law. I think it goes back to how you were raised by your family or how you witnessed someone else in your life.
I think it has to do with being a good person. People understand when someone’s a good person. Everybody knows that and a jury will know that. It’s being truthful. It’s being honest about how you handle your affairs. It’s treating people how you would want to be treated.
I’m sure there are times when people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, and those are the people you have to correct. But I try to, by the best of my ability, especially treat other lawyers with the respect they deserve. Because guess what? Sometimes things are out of the lawyer’s control. Might be client problems or other things.
For example, last week or two weeks ago, a younger lawyer that was representing one of the casinos missed the deadline ordered by the court and there had been three board to compel discovery responses. He did not file the responses within the appropriate time frame. He did not do anything. I let it sit for a week, but then I filed the appropriate motion for sanctions and things of that nature. And didn’t hear from him. I called him and said, “Look, man, just tell me straight up. Did you miss the deadline or was your client screwed?” And he said, “Corban, I just straight up missed the deadline. And I don’t know what to do.” I said, “You know what, I’m not calling it up because we don’t start out knowing everything… and we don’t need to forget that practicing law is not easy. Right? We’re all under deadlines. We all have things we worry about.”
In this case, the man’s father-in-law died. I didn’t know that. He’s a nice person and he just missed the deadline. Am I supposed to pull him up in front of the court and embarrass him? No, because later on, you know what he’s going to do. He’s going to remember that. And he’s going to remember that Corban does things the right way, and he’s going to produce the documents he’s supposed to produce because that’s what you’re supposed to do when following the rules. There are some things we’ve got to jump on. Then there are other things you don’t have to, and you get the same result.
Lawyer Minds: Awesome. Thank you for your time!
Thanks to Corban for sharing his words of wisdom. For more information about Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law, you can view his firm’s site.