By W. Matthew Wilson
In this new column, Verdict will feature the great work of GTLA lawyers who are making big impacts in their communities whether through client work or contributing to a social cause. Our GTLA members do incredible work outside their normal casework, and we are honored to share their stories here.
Kevin Patrick, like most of us, has a self-philosophy of service to others. What makes Kevin stand out is how he has ingrained that philosophy into the bones of his law practice.
Kevin opened his firm, Kevin Patrick Law, in January of 2016 after five years of defense work. One of the reasons Kevin was attracted to a private plaintiff’s practice was the increased flexibility he would have over his time. While he is quick to point out that his old defense firm was very supportive of its lawyers who wanted to spend time on causes that mattered to them, Kevin notes that he has much more freedom now to incorporate service activities into his work week.
A few weeks ago, Kevin had the perfect opportunity arise that would have simply passed by the vast majority of us. Kevin was scheduled to be on Fulton State Court Judge Jane Morrison’s late-July civil trial calendar. Based on the particulars of his client’s case, Kevin blocked a full week off his calendar for the trial.
Low and behold, the case settled on the eve of trial and Kevin was left with a “free” week on his calendar. While almost all of us would have simply used that time to catch up on work in our other case files, Kevin had a different idea. He did use some of that week to work on other cases, but he also set aside a full day for he and his law office staff to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. After all, they already had the time blocked off.
The Crossroads Kitchen (more commonly known as “Clyde’s Kitchen”) is a soup-kitchen ministry of the Crossroads Community Ministries located on Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta. Kevin had volunteered with Clyde’s Kitchen in the past and was aware of their great work serving the local homeless population. In addition to providing 60,000 hot meals a year, Clyde’s Kitchen uses volunteers from the homeless community it serves, providing work opportunities for those most in need.
Kevin and his paralegal Indiana Coates worked with about ten other volunteers one day to serve lunch for over 500 people. They arrived early that morning to start preparing the food and were struck right away at how well organized the entire operation was. “The director, Clyde, is a military veteran who previously ran military mess halls,” Kevin noted. Clyde applies that same military precision to his current work, ensuring a very well-run operation.
Kevin and Indiana worked at various stations, preparing the sandwiches, cookies, and soup that would be served for lunch that day. After lunch was served, the volunteers assisted with clean up and completed their mission mid-afternoon.
This is just one example of the service projects Kevin has incorporated into his regular law practice. “We try to do something different each month,” he said. In addition to Clyde’s Kitchen, this year Kevin and his staff have assisted with St. Jude’s Research Hospital and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Kevin says. He previously clerked for Judge John H. Bailey, Jr. in the Northern Judicial Circuit, along with Chief Justice Hugh Thompson of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Kevin credits both of them as great mentors to have within the profession. “They both taught me that there’s more to the practice of law than writing briefs or arguing motions,” he said. “It’s all human – we’re all human. They taught me that your clients are more important than you are.”
We could not agree more and applaud Kevin on his excellent example of servant leadership. May we all strive to incorporate more direct service activities into our weekly practices! ●
About the Author
W. Matthew Wilson is a partner at Akin & Tate, P.C. where his practice focuses on general litigation and appeals. Matthew was named a 2017 and 2018 Super Lawyers Rising Star, is a 2016 graduate of the GTLA LEAD Program, and currently serves on both the Verdict Editorial Board and Civil Justice PAC Young Lawyers Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.