Jerry W. Jernigan
The November spotlight is on solo practitioner Jerry W. Jernigan of Jerry W. Jernigan, P.A. As both a business law and trusts and estates attorney, Mr. Jernigan works closely with the MCB's Wills & Estates Program within the Volunteer Lawyer Program. Recently, he has helped many Habitat for Humanity homeowners with their estate planning needs. As a solo practitioner, the Bar appreciates the initiative he has shown in consistently serving MCB VLP clients in a pro bono manner.
MCB VLP: Current Employer & Number of Years with that Employer?
JJ: Jerry W. Jernigan, P.A. for the last 11 years. Prior to that, I practiced with an uptown firm.
MCB VLP: Area of Practice/Expertise?
JJ: I focus my practice in two areas: business law and estate planning & estate administration.
MCB VLP: Law school & Graduation Year?
JJ: Duke Law School 1974
MCB VLP: How did you get involved and what are the cases like?
JJ: I can't remember when I first learned about
the Volunteer Lawyer Program, but it was many years ago! Since most of the matters I take are in the estate planning area, there is usually a predictable beginning and predictable end to the engagement. I typically handle one pro bono matter at a time. I get involved when called by the VLP office or when an opportunity is presented through my church or a non-profit organization.
MCB VLP: How can the Mecklenburg County legal community help with similar cases?
JJ: Every lawyer can enjoy the chance to use his or her skills "for the good" without worry about financial reward. Many members of our Bar do that throughout the year by serving in various capacities with, or counseling, nonprofit organizations.
MCB VLP: What is the best advice you've received during your legal career?
JJ: The best advice I received was to "read paragraph 23". When I was a young associate, my senior partner had our lender client on the telephone. The client's borrower was insisting that he had the right to alter his obligations under the agreement and that the lender would be bound by the same. The lender didn't believe it and I was instructed to pull the agreement to see who was right. I rushed to read it and read all but the last few paragraphs of boiler plate and reported to my partner (and he to our client) that the borrower was wrong. Then I discovered that the very last paragraph, paragraph 23, had been tacked on to the form agreement. It did give the borrower those very rights. It was an embarrassing but good lesson about being thorough.
MCB VLP: What advice would you give others?
JJ: Every time you are asked to give legal advice or a recommendation, step back from the purely legal aspect of the matter and look at the bigger picture. Especially when your client is an individual, make sure your legal advice is in harmony with what you believe is best, overall, for that client.
MCB VLP: What is the most challenging part of your career?
JJ: Not letting the frustrations of law practice get the best of me.
MCB VLP: What is your favorite part of your current job?
JJ: Helping individual and corporate clients do what they need to do or get closer to where they want to be.
MCB VLP: Any other pertinent things you would like to share with the Mecklenburg County Bar and legal community?
JJ: I am hopeful that we lawyers will emerge from the current turmoil in our industry and profession with a little more humility and a little more gratitude.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the MCB VLP Wills & Estates Program, please contact Heather Blackley at 704/375-8624 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage solo and small firm attorneys to volunteer as the frequency of placement can be tailored to each attorney's desired preference.