What is it Like to Work at the Reid Law Firm?

Working at Reid Law Firm is a unique experience to say the least. It is a great experience for someone interested in law or politics to participate in solving real world problems and gain knowledge regarding their field of interest. In doing so, my fellow interns and I will leave with valuable experience that will help us in our private and professional lives. Mr. Reid is truly a selfless individual who impacted so many different people’s lives. One example would be me personally. A week before my interview with Mr. Reid, I was in a terrible car accident that left me with great damage to my neck, back, and rotator cuff, in addition to a severe concussion. All of these factors rendered me incapacitated and completely unprepared for my interview. I explained this to Mr. Reid over the phone, and he immediately expressed his sympathy and was more than happy to reschedule the interview to a more convenient time. When I arrived for the interview Mr. Reid seemed very concerned about my injuries and was very personable. He instructed me to write an assignment on the DACA predicament and provided extra time due to my recovery stages.

Another example of Mr. Reid’s good samaritan selflessness is the case of Kyle Nuss. Mr. Nuss, a 28 year-old army veteran who served our country honorably and with cystic fibrosis, has been fighting an uphill battle for survival his entire life.  Mr. Nuss’ medical bills has accrued to the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his condition’s severity and he stays in the hospital on an average of four times per year. Kyle’s father, who shared the same first and last name as Kyle, unexpectedly died the same time Kyle was enduring one of his lengthy hospital stays. The federal government confused Kyle Nuss Sr. as Kyle Nuss Jr. and legally declared him dead without doing a thorough investigation into the matter. This action caused Kyle’s Medicaid, social security, and disability benefits to be terminated. When Mr. Reid was approached by Kyle’s family to help, he was completely heartbroken by this and immediately agreed to accept Kyle as a client for no charge whatsoever. Chris has gone above and beyond  trying to procure compensation for his client. He has contacted multiple political and media outlets to circulate Kyle’s story and started a gofundme page to help pay for Kyle’s expenses.

These actions demonstrate that being a lawyer is more than just a job, it’s a calling. I honestly believe that Chris Reid embodies the best traits of being an attorney and a servant to the people. His firm reflects this. The people I have worked with have been kind and helpful, and all seem genuine in their work, and want to help people. This attitude is a new revelation to me. The first couple of jobs I had in high school seemed to consist of people who were oblivious and neglectful of their duties, were just looking for ways to cheat, and did just the bare minimum to get by. But things are different at Reid Law Firm. The caliber of people dedicated to public service is bar none and can’t be compared to any other group. I have thoroughly enjoyed working here, and will continue to do so for as long as I can.

 

This article was written by Brad Robinson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns.

Brad Robinson: Why I Want to Be an Attorney

Growing up I always liked those corny police drama shows that would always conclude with the bad guy being arrested at the end of the episode and generally that was it. But the son of an assistant AG knew different. I understood from an early age that the legal process was a lot more complicated than that. Someone must be tried and convicted by a jury of their peers and sentenced by a duly-elected judge to fully seal the fate of the accused.

Obviously, this process can become complicated when factoring in all the complexities and intricacies of a case. It takes an educated person of the law to clarify such a complicated manner, and that is where attorneys come into play. However, being an attorney takes more than being educated, it requires someone to adopt a servant’s mentality.  To exert yourself to the extreme in gaining the best result for your client, whether it’s an individual or the state.

My passion for this type of service developed through observing my role model, my dad. My father, whose father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all attorneys, is a 1981 graduate of Cumberland Law School (named after my great grandfather) and was an assistant attorney general for Alabama for 18 years. While I never actually saw my dad practice, I see what an impact the education and experience did for him. It has instilled a moral code of conduct that you will very rarely find in your fellow man and is something that I’ve always strived to achieve. I truly feel that this is one of the more beneficial ways to help other people, for most people are laypeople relative to the law.

I feel that a good lawyer should have simple traits so that he or she can better serve his or her clients. These traits can be summarized in three words; patience, understanding, and transparency. Patience is key because most people don’t understand the legal process and might be shocked by their legal predicament and what that represents. Understanding is also important due to the client/attorney relationship. It is important for an attorney to understand what his client’s needs are to better formulate a resolution in representation. And the third, transparency, might be the most important. It is always important to be upfront with your clients. They’re entrusting you with their well-being and expect you to give them plausible solutions as soon as possible. Even if you know that the outcome isn’t going to be good, it is always better to be honest with your clients so that they can mentally prepare for the next step, whether good or bad.

I feel that these traits are what most embody a true servant and what everyone should strive to be. Not necessarily an attorney, but a servant. People shouldn’t seek out a job because of its simplicity or benefits, but for the positive impact they can make on other people’s lives. This is the day to day routine for an attorney. They go in day after day trying to make people’s lives better, and that’s what has always attracted me to their line of work. As some say, “It’s not a job, It’s a calling.”

 

his article was written by Brad Robinson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns.

7-2 For the First Amendment!

On June 4th, the United State Supreme Court produced the final verdict for the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111. The case arose in 2012 when a Colorado baker by the name of Jack Phillips refused his services to an engaged same-sex couple looking for a cake for their wedding reception. What makes this case so controversial is that Mr. Phillip’s refusal was established on the principle that creating a cake for a same-sex marriage was contradictive to his faith, and therefore would promote a LGBT supportive image for his bakery. Though originally this case was granted in favor of the couple when brought to the attention of the Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission, ultimately the United States Supreme Court’s majority rule was 7-2 in favor of Mr. Phillips. 

Interestingly enough, this case was not a matter of the affirmation of gay rights. When the couple filed the complaint against Mr. Phillips, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Mr. Phillips had ‘violated a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.’ However, in an interview with the Todayshow, Mr. Phillips said that he “doesn’t discriminate,” with the matter of fact being he doesn’t “create cakes for every occasion they ask me to create.”  So to what affect will this court case influence similar cases that are presented in the future? The deliberation of whether or not Mr. Phillips had a right to refuse service as a business owner was barely addressed by the court.  The focal point of the case was that the commission originally delivered by the Colorado Civil Right Commission violated Mr. Phillip’s right to have religious freedom. 

Though inherently freedom of speech and freedom of religion are not one in the same, the Supreme Court ruling was narrowly defined when it comes to the broader scheme of these two concepts. TheColorado Civil Rights Commission was originally discriminatory to Mr. Phillips, which in turn violated his first amendment right to maintain religious freedom. Too often, people associate religious freedom with derogatory free speech against minority groups such as the LGBT community. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission further illustrated this point because it automatically painted the big, bad picture of religion to being hateful towards those that don’t align with it. To be honest, that was how this case blew up almost instantly across the nation. The state of Colorado allowed two of the most controversial topics in America- religion and sexuality- to get out of hand and crucified both parties of the lawsuit in the media spotlight. Before the case was appealed, it proposed that there were only two alternatives to a solution but only one was correct. The correct alternative- and the one that was heavily favored- was that the court sided with the same-sex couple and therefore punish the business owner. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission rode on the emotions of the LGBT community, who after years of fighting to obtain rights have started to see progress in the U.S. Along with that, it would send a broader message to any business that holds religious beliefs that ultimately their values would not matter against American society. Many successful businesses find their company culture in its religious beliefs, Chick-fil-a being the most affluent example.

The Supreme Court of the United States was absolutely correct in its decision to not punish Mr. Phillips for denying service of a cake that he deemed contradictory to his beliefs. The Supreme Court also made this clear in its concluding statement: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was not a case of Christianity versus homosexuality. It wasn’t a case of man vs. sin as many would liked to have believe. The Supreme Court upheld principles that this nation was founded on and will continue to be for centuries to come. And because our society is changing to be more inclusive of those that want to find their place as accepted citizens, the court did not reverse progressive decisions that have recently been put in place for these changes. Mr. Phillips was never unprofessional to the couple that came into his bakery looking for a wedding cake; he simply denied their request as a business owner. America is large enough to have space for different groups that want to have rights for themselves. Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission emphasized that public businesses in America should be open to all that wish to partake; however, because of the specificity of this case, Mr. Phillips was given the justice he deserved. 

This article was written by Megan Gambrill, one of Reid Law's summer 2018 interns.

Should Employers Be Allowed To Discriminate Based On Political Affiliation?

Though it’s widely known that it’s illegal to discriminate based on race, gender, etc., the Civil Rights Act says nothing about discrimination based on political affiliation. Though a few states have put in place their own laws restricting political discrimination, in the majority of states, including Alabama, no such laws exist. 

While on the surface any type of discrimination feels inherently wrong, in the modern political environment a company may have good reason to discriminate against an employee based on political party. The country has rapidly become politically polarized along party lines, and this polarization may have a negative effect on workplace efficiency. 

Intuitively, many view freedom of speech in the workplace as a free speech issue, but it is important to note the free speech protections from the First Amendment do not apply to private employers. Individual speech can be restricted in the private workplace; employees cannot say and do whatever they please. 

Political discrimination is unique from discrimination based on other traits. There is something about an individual’s political affiliation that society does not find as sacred as an individual’s race, gender, or sexual orientation; perhaps because people can choose their political party, but they cannot choose the latter. While it is considered socially unacceptable to openly insult a person’s race, people vigorously insult each other’s politics on a regular basis; and not only in private settings—barbs exchanged between Republicans and Democrats are nationally televised daily. 

A common argument against anti-discrimination laws is that they are in violation of businesses’ property rights. This argument frames the issue of employment discrimination in terms of Lockean rights, the idea being that a business is the private property of its owner, and as such he should be able to do with his business what he likes.

Working for a privately held business is not a right. Employees can discriminate amongst employers when deciding for whom to work, but employers cannot discriminate to the same extent when hiring. There is something that feels wrong about the government telling an employer how to best run her business, because laws that limit an employer’s freedom in this way also tell her how to best spend her money. 

Another prevalent argument against anti-discrimination laws is that they violate a business’s freedom of association. The law makes a distinction between for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations; non-profits can more openly discriminate against potential members because their purposes are “expressive” in nature, while for-profit businesses get less constitutional protection in this area because they are purely commercial. 

This dichotomy seems unfair. For one, even those corporations that seem unequivocally commercial in nature have an expressive component. Wal-Mart, for example, is a quintessential multi-billion dollar corporation, but Wal-Mart also has expressive values that it embraces; until recently, Wal-Mart refused to sell emergency contraceptives in its stores. 

Additionally, commercial association is voluntary much like being the member of a club. Commercial organizations are formed by the free choice of individuals, and employees who join these firms do so on a voluntary contractual basis—although there may be costs, they can leave at any time. 

 In this way, employers and employees are freely choosing to associate with each other in furtherance of a common enterprise, not so different from members of a club. If the goal of a club was to elect a certain candidate, that club would not want members who were outspoken in support of the other candidate. If the goal of a corporation were the same, why should it not be able to exclude its political enemies as well, in furtherance of this goal?

A final key argument against anti-discrimination laws is classic rational choice theory. Employers conduct a cost-benefit analysis when choosing to hire or keep on an employee, and there may be some costs associated with employing a politically outspoken individual.

A series of Pew Research Center studies found that Republicans and Democrats view each other more negatively today than ever before, to the extent that each views the other party as a threat to the nation’s well-being. Members of each party responded that the members of the other made them feel afraid and angry, and expressed that they believed the other party to be immoral, dishonest, and close-minded. 

Based on these findings, it’s not difficult to imagine a potentially hostile, politically divisive work environment. Employees might have reservations about communicating with other and be hesitant about working together. Insults might be openly exchanged, employees might not trust each other, and could feel afraid of or angry at one another based solely on political affiliation.

If this is the case, it could certainly be a rational decision to discriminate against an employee based on political affiliation. If there is the possibility of workplace animosity, workplace productivity could decrease, and a business could make less money and be less successful overall. 

The United States is a country that values its freedoms, and American culture has always been focused on expanding citizens’ rights. As such, it can be uncomfortable to consider the possibility that employers could discriminate based solely on politics. However, the benefits of allowing greater employment freedoms may be outweighed by the potential costs to companies of employing people who do not agree with their overall values, and may cause major disruptions in the workplace. 

 

This article was written by Katie Pickle, Reid Law's Chief Legal Clerk. Katie is a 3L at Emory Law school. She received her undergraduate degrees in English and Political Science and the University of Virginia. In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, snowboarding, and working out.

Disabled Veteran Fighting for His Life After Government Declares Him Dead

Kyle Nuss has been fighting his whole life, battling complications from cystic fibrosis in hopes of pursuing a normal, happy life. At the age of 18, Kyle assumed the responsibility to fight not only for his life, but for the lives of millions of Americans when he enlisted in the armed services. Now Kyle is fighting perhaps the hardest battle he has ever had to face--the battle to reclaim his own life from the very government he so selflessly defended.

In May, Kyle lost his father, Gregory Dwayne Nuss. The crippling heartbreak and stress that accompanied the loss of Kyle’s father only amplified when Kyle’s inability to make purchases on his credit and debit cards led to the discovery that--through a careless and devastating error--the federal government had declared Gregory Kyle Nuss (Kyle) deceased rather than declaring his father as the deceased.

These arduous conditions have worsened Kyle’s own condition. Due to the stress caused by the multitude of these tragedies, Kyle is being stripped of his ability to fight cystic fibrosis--both physically, due to the taxing effects of such strenuous circumstances, and financially, because a man who has been declared dead by the federal government cannot access his personal funds or health insurance...even if he is still alive and fighting for his life.

Our veterans are the ones who keep us safe. They are the reason why we can safely go for a walk around the neighborhood, the reason why we can sleep peacefully at night, and the reason why we have so many of the freedoms that we proudly exercise every day. As a veteran, Kyle Nuss so selflessly gave of his time, his security, and was even willing to give his life in order to protect our lives and our freedoms. As Americans, it is our turn to fight for one of the men who sacrificed so much to fight for us in order to help him overcome the monumental battle of losing his father, his funds, and his health.

If you would like to donate to Kyle's GoFundMe, you can access it hereThe money raised from this campaign will help Kyle pay for his medical bills, attorney fees, and a place to live for him and his girlfriend--whom he is excited to marry upon his recovery. He said it took his entire life to find his soulmate--someone who would stand by him through his disability and the battles it brings, through the happiest days, and through his darkest hours. By providing these funds for Kyle, we can enable him to reclaim his life today, and help him to secure the future that he is pursuing with so much enthusiasm and hope.

 

This article was written by Lindsey Jinright, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns. Lindsey is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Auburn University. Lindsey may be contacted at lindsey.reidlawalabama@gmail.com

How Legal Advertising has Changed Drastically Since 1976

When I was in elementary school, my teacher would often fill small voids of silence during our class time by humming the beginning of a commercial jingle, and then waiting for a chorus of twenty squeaky voices to complete his tune with a phone number or a slogan. In doing this, he had created an army of ten year olds trained to recite the phone numbers of several lawyers in town. Years later, I still find myself amused at the volume of advertisements for legal services that are out there. It has become a game to count the billboards as I travel from Auburn to Birmingham, or to see how many attorneys pop up in my linkedin ads. It is hard to imagine a world where each road trip, morning news hour, or social network is not punctuated with advertisements for legal services; however, before 1976, that was just the case. This stark contrast raises the question--how did we get from virtually no legal advertisements to being exposed to dozens each day? And how has education managed to evolve alongside this rapidly growing practice?

Every social media ad, every billboard, and every ceaseless commercial jingle created for the legal industry shares a common ancestor--a small clipping from the Arizona Republic published by Jon Bates and Van O’Steen in 1976. To today’s observer, this clipping may seem like a harmless attempt to promote an otherwise struggling practice; however, the State Bar of Arizona perceived this to be a gross ethical infringement. The case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona traveled all the way to the Supreme Court, where the ban on legal advertisements was lifted due to the justices’ conclusion that these advertisements were protected under the First Amendment. This monumental decision ushered in a new era of billboards, newspaper clippings, and radio advertisements, and created a more educated consumer within the legal field.

As technology has evolved, so has legal advertising. In addition to the media used in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when legal advertising was a new and vastly unexplored frontier, firms are employing modern advancements--such as social media, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Optimization (SEO), and blogging--in order to educate and attract potential clients. Social media and blogging allow firms to make connections with potential clients by sharing articles, making posts that exhibit the firm’s values and strengths, and establishing a more interactive online presence through the client's’ ability to reach the firm with direct messaging and comments. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) enables firms to cultivate a more consistent presence by strategically placing advertisements for firms in the results for related online searches. This creates visibility for the firm, and reaches several potential clients, similar to how a newspaper clipping or tv commercial would reach clients in the beginning years of legal advertising. Social Media presence and SEM can be maximized and made more effective by Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO allows firms to see what works and what can be improved in regards to their online presence. It provides a glimpse into what attracts clients and what will grow visibility and engagement. Firms can use SEO in order to maximize their impact within the vast expanse of the Internet, and reach the most consumers. With the addition of these resources and the advancement of technology, law firms are more equipped than ever to educate and reach potential clients.

The rapid pace at which the technology and tools available to firms and clients may raise the question--can education keep up? Luckily, the answer to that question is yes. The American Bar Association has created a department called the Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC). This department provides firms with online tools, resources, and tips on how to stay up to date with the latest means of connecting and advertising. The LTRC compiles articles and resources into an online directory for lawyers to reference as they work to build their online presence. Colleges and universities are also equipping future generations of lawyers to stay on pace with advancing technology by incorporating technology, social networking, and concepts of branding into the classroom. With advancements in education that match the pace of evolving technology, present and future lawyers are well-prepared to maximize their impact and create engaging content to attract potential clients.

The past four decades have brought about enormous advancements in the field of legal advertising. As technology continues to evolve and new tools are introduced to the toolbox of legal advertising, firms continue to adapt and succeed from the progression from a complete ban on legal advertisements to millions of potential clients at the click of a button.

 

This article was written by Lindsey Jinright, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns. Lindsey is a senior English major and Anthropology minor at Auburn University. Lindsey may be contacted at lindsey.reidlawalabama@gmail.com