Dave Swanner, author of South Carolina Trial Law Blog, has a very resourceful and informative article about "How to Be a Better Trial Lawyer". In this article he cites 8 great points ranging to involvement in local and national trial organizations to learning anatomy and physics.  I think if you take to heart all of his points you have an excellent guidepost to kicking off your trial career.  I would only like to add several points that I have picked up in the past three years that have helped me:

  1. Keep Detailed Records of Values– I use an Excel Spreadsheet indicating the client, type case, insurance agent, insurance company/defense attorney, settlement amount, attorney fees, and month in which the settlement, or trial, occurred.  The more detailed your records the better you can understand the other side.  There are some attorneys out there that let a case go if a law suit and eventual trial is a strong possibility.  You don’t want to be lumped into that category. Keep an eye on verdict reports and SC Lawyers Weekly.  Numbers are also more important to your partners and managing attorneys come review time.
  2. Find Your Passion-Then funnel it into focus for your litigation. This is easy for me because I hate insurance companies for what they did when I was sick with cancer and what they did to my mother when she was dying with lung cancer.  I draw from that hatred, which is not healthy, and remind myself that I am the only voice and advocate for my clients.  They have come to me because they have been injured, wrongfully accused, misinformed, taken advantage of all their lives, and rest all their confidence on my shoulders.  What a great feeling!
  3. Communicate Without Legalese– You have to speak and explain things like a normal person with your clients, the jury, and the court administrators and personnel.  You can use all those fancy words with opposing counsel and corporate clients but the jury is made up of ordinary people in the community, often times not lawyers or professors.  Remember the jury’s role from your law school education? As George W. Bush would say, "They’re Deciders! And they decide things."
  4. Keep Templates from Previous Trials/Work-Issues you faced in your first trial will most likely be issues in your subsequent trials. Evidentiary issues on Hearsay and Expert Testimony seem to always crop up.  Likewise, pretrial and post trial motions you make can be similar.
  5. Be Able to Find the Courtroom-I was late to a Minor Settlement Hearing because I failed to do just that.  I was already running late and failed to get directions but assumed I could find downtown and thus the Courthouse. It was in Laurens County where the Courthouse doesn’t hold court but had been moved out on the bypass into an old shopping center.  By the time I got there I was stressed, flustered and angry at myself.  A lot to carry into a courtroom in front of a judge. 
  6. May It Please the Court-remember the logistics of the courtroom and certain formalities. The party with the burden of proof sits closest to the jury, know the number of jury strikes each side is allowed, if you’re the plaintiff will you be allowed the final word after closing, etc.   

I think Dave’s tip #7, is the most important one of all.  You can’t call yourself a trial attorney if you have never done a trial. 

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Photo of Trey Mills Trey Mills

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills,

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills, Jr. and Patricia Yarborough Mills, were originally from Newberry, South Carolina, and soon after the birth of Mr. Mills, his parents brought him back to be raised in the same county they grew up in.

Education

Mr. Mills attended Newberry Academy from grades K-3, Gallman Elementary 4th grade, Rikard Elementary 5-6th grade, Mid-Carolina Middle School 7-8th grades, Mid-Carolina High School from 9-12th grades, Clemson University, and Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

Health Crisis

While Mr. Mills was a junior in high school he was chosen by his school to be a representative to Boys State.  This was a great honor and would have been an even better experience except, while at Boys State, Mr. Mills became unusually ill with blackouts, night sweats, and back pain.  Fortunately for Mr. Mills, his mother was an ER nurse at Lexington Medical Center, but unfortunately, for Mr. Mills that did not change his diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Along with his diagnosis, Mr. Mills received a prognosis of two weeks.

Obviously, Mr. Mills has been blessed with his second chance at life and those who have been wronged by health care insurance companies and other types of insurance companies can feel confident in knowing that Mr. Mills can not only empathize with them but fight fervently for their side.  Mr. Mills’ cancer experience and his mother’s arduous yet unsuccessful battle against lung cancer were very trying times.  However, those real-world battles and experiences were nothing compared to the administrative and billing wars he had to encounter with Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance. It seems BCBS would deny any charge over $1,000 without rational reasoning therefore prompting Mr. Mills to go to law school and carry the torch for those that were too ill to fight for themselves while the school yard bully beat them down.

College

Mr. Mills went on to Clemson University where he was very active in student activities along with academic accomplishments.  Mr. Mills was invited to join Calhoun Honor’s College, Sigma Pi fraternity, Golden Key National Honor Society, Student Government, IPTAY Student Advisory Board, and Tiger Brotherhood. Mr. Mills also worked as a student employee with IPTAY Scholarship Fund under the direction of Bert Henderson, formerly the Associate Athletic Director of Planned Giving at Clemson University.

Early Life

Mr. Mills was unsure of where his hard work and life experiences would best provide an adequate return to the outpouring of kindness he received during his cancer experience. Having received many blessings from the American Red Cross, Mr. Mills went on to be an Apheresis Donor Recruiter under the supervision of Barry Pollard at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Services in Columbia, SC after graduating Clemson University.

Running from his true calling, Mr. Mills fled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  Having spent a semester of college in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Mills thought he should be assisting foreign countries. Mr. Mills was certified by the Vancouver Language Centre in Guadalajara for his TEFL training.  Mr. Mills was in Guadalajara only a few months when September 11, 2001 occurred and helped him focus on his life priorities.

Law School

Mr. Mills went on to law school at Mercer University and clerked each summer trying to determine how he could best serve those less fortunate.  The corporate law firms never truly provided him with that personal feeling of assisting the common person in need.  It wasn’t until Mr. Mills became the first law clerk of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association under the supervision of Linda Franklin and lobbyist Michael Gunn that he realized where his education, life experience, drive, and hard work could truly benefit those who have been personally and directly affected by the negligence of another.  Mr. Mills wanted to be a coveted and much needed plaintiff’s trial attorney.  More importantly Mr. Mills realized the power of the faceless insurance companies, misinformed legislative members, and the true power of money and lobbyist in dictating laws.

What’s the one service you pay for all your life but you are actually penalized if you ever have to use it? Insurance.

Trammell & Mills

Mr. Ernie Trammell gave Mr. Mills his big break at leveling the playing field against the faceless and heartless insurance companies.  Mr. Mills works tirelessly every day in an effort to bring justice to those who have been wronged.  Mr. Mills has worked on both sides of the law and has been through some harrowing life experiences.  Mr. Mills has been tested and tried by many of the more traumatic events that life has to offer and now provides his services to the public.

Who would you rather have on your side? Someone whose resolve has been tested and tried? Or someone who has intertwined their morality and greed in such a way that they can’t tell one from the other?

Why haven’t you hired Mr. Mills to be your attorney yet?

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why listen to insurance adjusters?