Former Arkansas State Senator Will Bond joins us for an interview to discuss why he became a trial lawyer and also what advice he has for trial lawyers of every stripe. A partner with McMath Woods, Will focuses his practice on representing injured people across the State of Arkansas.
Why did you decide to become a trial lawyer?
I am starting to feel like I was born this way and with this passion. I started out initially at a large (by Arkansas standards) defense firm. I learned a lot, but I wanted to have a more personal connection with my clients, and I have always wanted to fight for the underdog.
What advice do you have for new trial lawyers?
Listen and send some time doing “real street lawyer” work — drafting deeds, working on divorces, property disputes, criminal cases, and probate work. Soak up all you can from each of these different practice areas and the lessons you learned from each. I still consider myself a “street lawyer.”
What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a lawyer?
Resolving child custody cases for clients in ways that were best for the kids. Helping convince an insurance company, either through a jury trial or other methods, that it’s in their best interests to do what is right and just.
How do you find time for family, friends, and other responsibilities in the middle of a trial?
Honestly, we do not have enough trials anymore. The truth is, when you are in a trial, there is no balance to be found, other than to make sure you are taking care of yourself physically by eating and sleeping well. If you’re sleepy during trial, then you’re not effective. Listening is the most important skill a lawyer can have during trial and if you’re dozing off or distracted because you’re tired, you’re doing yourself and your client a disservice.
How important is it to maintain professional relationships with other lawyers?
It’s very important to develop and maintain relationships, even if you may not personally get along with another attorney. I try to never burn bridges with colleagues, because we all make mistakes and most of the ones that I’ve seen are unintentional.
What do you wish you would have known about your career before becoming a lawyer?
It is a grind. To be really good and to stay on top of things, you have to constantly put in the work. And that is just the way it is.
Why is jury duty important?
Gov. McMath used to tell folks something I totally agree with (and say myself) — there are really two places we can all go to serve and protect the constitution: The ballot box and the jury box.
What was the last non-legal book you read?
True Grit by Charles Portis (this was actually a re-read). Charles was an Arkansan who just recently passed away.
Thanks to Will Bond for sharing his insights, particularly into why jury duty is so important. If you’re so inclined, please check out Will’s organizations of choice: The Central Arkansas Boys & Girls Club, as well as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).