Today, a new chapter in my practice begins as I have taken the first step into the world of my own solo law firm. This is the first day in business for J. Brandt Thorson, PLLC at 606 E. Methvin, Longview, Texas 75601.
It has been 8 years and four months since I clicked the refresh button on my web browser for what was probably the 500th time that day and learned that I passed the Texas Bar Exam. It was May 3, 2004, also my 25th birthday. A short after I learned of my passing results, I sent a page to Bill Jennings, the Gregg County District Attorney at the time, and he called me back and let me know that was officially hired to work in his office. I moved to Longview from Houston two weeks later. I was out of school and a licensed attorney, but I know now that I was only just beginning to learn what it meant to be a lawyer and what the practice of law is all about.
The journey from the first day of law school to the day you receive your bar results is a tiring one, during which you are actually taught little to no practical information related to the actual practice of law. Theoretical concepts regarding crime and punishment will get you exactly nowhere in a courtroom full of actual criminal lawyers and accused defendants.
I worked for the DA’s office for two years, starting as a prosecutor in the misdemeanor court and quickly moving into the felony courts. At the Gregg County DA’s office I was very lucky to work for and with many talented attorneys who taught me a great deal about the practice of criminal law. Along the way, I made many contacts and friends in the East Texas area who I am glad to be able associate with and seek counsel from regularly regarding issues in criminal law to this day. The greatest experiences of my tenure in the DA’s office, however, were those that involved my presenting a case to ordinary citizens who sat on venire and jury panels in the trials in which I was involved. I truly believe that the right to a jury trial is our most important right, and that the verdict a jury delivers is justice, plan and simple.
I left the DA’s office and went to work for Marc Mayfield and Frank Weedon at their firm Mayfield Weedon, L.L.P. in Longview in May, 2006. While my time at the DA’s office was a great and formative experience and I gained valuable trial experience, I was completely unaware of what it was like to represent clients. I am eternally grateful to Marc and Frank for allowing me to be a part of their practice for over six years, and the knowledge and perspective I gained from my association with them is invaluable.
While an associate at the firm, I handled a wide variety of civil matters from workers’ compensation and social security disability administrative claims to personal injury jury trials and criminal matters ranging from speeding tickets to homicide charges. In my years with the firm I had many successes and some failures, which are definitely the best teachers, and was blessed with the opportunity to help hundreds of clients through some of life’s most challenging situations.
As I begin this new chapter in the life of my practice, I know I am fortunate to be able to stand on the shoulders of those who have taught me how to be a lawyer over the last 8 years, and I look forward to whatever the future of my practice holds.