Recently, Scholle Law founder and partner Charles Scholle was interviewed by Authority Magazine on the topic “The 5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law.” He provided insight into his journey as a personal injury lawyer and tips for the next generation of hopeful attorneys.
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The following interview was originally published by Authority Magazine.
Charles Scholle is a Georgia Top 100 Trial Lawyer and member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Having practiced law in the Atlanta metro area and throughout Georgia for nearly three decades, he has earned the highest preeminent ratings from his peers for both excellence in legal practice and ethical standards.
With his expertise, Scholle has recovered millions of dollars for his clients and has gathered and mentored an excellent team of legal professionals. Even though he specializes in trial law, Charles has a background in international law. He is also a member and leader in numerous legal associations. These two factors give him the versatility and authority to speak on behalf of various legal disciplines.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law? Did you want to be an attorney “when you grew up”?
I actually didn’t want to be an attorney when I was growing up, even though my mom would always say I argued a lot. But it was really the analytical focus of college that sharpened my mind and made me want to become a lawyer. I wanted to help underprivileged people and people that were in trouble. This passion brought me to personal injury law and has made my career quite satisfying.
Can you tell us a bit about the nature of your practice and what you focus on?
“Dedicated to Excellence, Committed to Results” — Our firm focuses on helping people in Georgia who were injured due to someone else’s negligence. While we mainly take cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful death, and catastrophic injuries, we have successfully managed just about every type of personal injury case.
You are a successful attorney. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? What unique qualities do you have that others may not? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I think the three qualities that have been most instrumental are attention to detail, empathy, and conscientiousness. Being a lawyer is a detail-oriented profession. Seeing the congruence and the differences when applying the law to a set of facts is essential to success; you have to see the nuances in the law. But most of all, remembering details and understanding why the details are important.
In order to practice personal injury law, you must have compassion for your clients and have compassion for their situation. You have to put yourself in their shoes and feel what they’re feeling. And if you don’t, they’re going to know it, and they’re not going to trust you. Credibility is extremely important. If they don’t trust you, then it’s not going to be a successful engagement.
Finally, conscientiousness refers to the ethical responsibility that you have with not only your client but also with the court — and with society in general. Lawyers are expected to behave in an ethical manner, and we’re required to behave in a way that is professional and up to the standards set by the Bar Association, local court systems, our clients, and the public.
Do you think you have had luck in your success? Can you explain what you mean?
I absolutely think I’ve had luck in my success. My grades weren’t perfect when I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Georgia. But the University of Georgia School of Law took a chance on me and accepted me. It was a great relief and a great blessing to me to be able to attend such a great school. I had a great three years there. Going to UGA was very important to my success. It’s a local school in my hometown. So even though I didn’t really have a built-in client base when I started, I had people that knew me from when I was growing up. It’s been nice to be able to practice in the area where I lived and grew up.
In addition, I was lucky that I had good mentors during my first professional years as an attorney. I still have good mentors and professionals that help me, and I’m lucky to have those people. I’m also lucky that the clients that I’ve had chose me to be their attorney. So I feel very fortunate and very lucky to be in this position.
Do you think where you went to school has any bearing on your success? How important is it for a lawyer to go to a top-tier school?
I don’t think going to a “top-tier school” is as important if you’re going to be your own boss and have your own firm. However, I do think it’s important if you want to work in an established law firm where they demand the highest credentials. The University of Georgia may not be considered the top of the “top-tier” of schools, but I was happy to have gone to Georgia. In fact, I don’t think that I would have chosen to go anywhere else, even if I could have gone to a “top-tier school.”
Based on the lessons you have learned from your experience, if you could go back in time and speak to your twenty-year-old self, what would you say? Would you do anything differently?
I would say, “Have more fun, don’t take life so seriously.” I would also say that you’re doing a good job, being focused on your education. I might have taken a semester off to have some fun, but it was important to have gone through the process as I did. Being a student who put himself through college helped build the character and the mental toughness to build my own practice.
This is not easy work. What is your primary motivation and drive behind the work that you do?
I do what I do because of where I came from. I had a lower-middle-class upbringing, and I was always motivated to get ahead because I wanted to succeed in life. I think that’s still with me. The habits that you develop when you’re young never really go away. So if you want to get ahead when you’re young, you want to keep going and get ahead even if you’re successful because it gives you satisfaction.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are really excited about evolving and expanding our practice to take on more types of cases. Specifically, we are focusing on wage and hour claims and ophthalmological malpractice. We are also seeing a lot of developments in traumatic brain injury cases. Traumatic brain injuries are finally being understood more clearly, so we’re excited that our clients are able to get treatment now that was previously not widely accessible.
Where do you go from here? Where do you aim to be in the next chapter of your career?
As I said before, my aim is to grow our firm and expand to more practice areas to continue to be a successful practice in Gwinnett County.
Ok, fantastic. Let’s now shift to discussing some advice for aspiring lawyers. Do you work remotely? Onsite? Or Hybrid? What do you think will be the future of how law offices operate? What do you prefer? Can you please explain what you mean?
We work in our offices. Due to the nature of the work we do, working remotely simply doesn’t cut it. Law offices will always need a physical location to meet face-to-face with clients. Video calls can work, but they just aren’t as personal — and effective — as meeting face-to-face.
How has the legal world changed since COVID? How do you think it might change in the near future? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t think it’s changed that much, except that people are more apt to go with Zoom calls. Before COVID, clients wanted to meet with me face-to-face to talk to me. Now, clients are fine talking to me on the phone and e-signing contracts. There’s more trust in doing everything digitally now.
We often hear about the importance of networking and getting referrals. Is this still true today? Has the nature of networking changed or has its importance changed? Can you explain what you mean?
I think that it’s still a people business; credibility is built on human interaction. You have to get to know people in order for them to trust you fully. Networking online is important, but my best professional relationships developed over a shared lunch or other in-person interaction. Referrals will always be important in this industry. After all, if someone needs a divorce attorney, that’s out of my wheelhouse. But I have a network of attorneys to whom I can refer that case, and in turn, they refer personal injury cases to me. Clients get the representation they need, and attorneys get the cases they want. Everyone wins with an effective referral network, and that will likely never change.
Based on your experience, how can attorneys effectively leverage social media to build their practice?
Social media for law firms is tricky. On the one hand, you can go the route of targeting younger people with videos and memes, but doing so can both alienate your older audience as well as make you look dated and out-of-touch with the younger audience. On the other hand, posting legal articles is, to put it bluntly, boring. No matter which angle you take, you have to be especially careful about what you say and how you say it to avoid trouble with the state bar association.
I think the best way to effectively leverage social media is by testing different methods and seeing what sticks. What works for my Georgia personal injury firm probably won’t work for a Nebraska bankruptcy lawyer. If you really want to see results, hire a young Millennial or a Gen Z “Zoomer” to handle your social media. They absolutely know more about social media and the digital world than you!
Excellent. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Become A Top Lawyer In Your Specific Field of Law?” Please share a story or an example for each.
The top three things you need to become a personal injury lawyer are attention to detail, empathy, and conscientiousness, as I explained earlier. But two other things you need are patience and a strong resolve.
The legal process often takes a lot of time, especially in the COVID era. Courts are backed up for months, and insurance companies tend to drag their feet when it comes to paying out compensation. You also have to be patient with clients. They are going through one of the toughest times of their lives and may be demanding and/or have a lot of questions. If you don’t have patience, you probably won’t have much success.
Speaking of insurance companies, you have to have a strong resolve to deal with them. Insurance companies will do everything they can to not pay out compensation to injured people, including hiring teams of lawyers to fight the case and low-balling settlement offers. If you don’t have a strong resolve, you can easily be overwhelmed and steamrolled by the insurance company.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Probably Elon Musk. I think that’d be a fun time because I think he’s interesting. Lawyers are, by nature, risk-averse; we’re trained to avoid worst-case scenarios. So it’s interesting watching people who just sort of put everything up and take massive risks, and because they believe in themselves so much, they often succeed. I really admire that quality in other people, even though I’m not a big risk-taker myself.