(This mini-profile was published today on the Austin Legal News blog.) There aren’t many attorneys with deeper roots in Austin than Mike Davis. His family’s lineage goes back five generations, which explains the strong attachment he feels to Central Texas. “You can still count on the word or handshake of lawyers you know or have worked with over the years,” he says.
It’s that “collegial” atmosphere that has also helped his law firm, Slack Davis Sanger, become one of Austin’s preeminent law firms when it comes to personal injury and products liability. Davis and his fellow attorneys truly care about their clients. That commitment makes him the best candidate for this week’s Wednesday interview.
1. Describe your legal practice.
I lead our firm’s personal injury and products liability practice, representing victims of life-altering and catastrophic incidents related to commercial truck and automobile collisions; oilfield, electrical, and construction site accidents; and defective products including drugs and medical devices, tires and child safety seats.
2. What are the biggest challenges of those you interact with on the legal front and what is the key to helping them resolve those challenges?
The clients I represent come to us at what is probably the lowest point of their lives. They have experienced personal loss and/or injury, and are going through the process of getting their lives back in order. People in this vulnerable state need reassurance and a reliable team to help them navigate the legal process. Because our clients frequently have neither the power nor the resources to take on powerful defendants and their insurance carriers, we have to be prepared to supply the resources, legal skills and experience necessary to level the playing field for them.
3. What are the advantages to practicing law in Austin?
I come from five generations of Austin residents. Growing up in Austin, I knew I lived in a special place. A lot has changed, of course, but Austin is still special and unique. That uniqueness extends to the Austin legal community. Although we have become a big city and cannot completely escape some of the attributes of a big, urban practice, the Austin bar continues to be more collegial than most. There are still some elements of a smaller-town practice. You can still count on the word or handshake of lawyers you know or have worked with over the years rather than working under a cloud of distrust in which you have to have every little thing documented, signed and filed with the court.
4. How would you improve the legal profession if you could?
I would work to make the judicial system more open and accessible to those who need it. Over the past several years, laws and rules have made it increasingly difficult for the average citizen to gain access to the courthouse. I fear that we are quickly approaching a time when only the rich and powerful will have the ability to access the judicial system. I would like to see some balance restored to the system.
5. Who or what was your biggest influence in becoming a lawyer and why?
My parents. My dad’s influence is fairly obvious. He was one of the first lawyers in Austin to represent injured people. He went on to serve as president of both the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now American Association for Justice). I grew up traveling around the country with my dad as he spoke at various legal seminars. But my mom also played a role. Mom was always the champion of the underdog – always willing to take a stray animal or a stray kid under her wing. My parents taught me to help people in need and to stand up for those who cannot protect themselves. I like to believe that is what we do as personal injury attorneys.