James Davis named Super Lawyer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
As a child, James Davis was immersed in law, politics and open debate. In fact, in the Davis household, it was encouraged.
Fast forward several years and the 52-year-old is passing on that call to public service to his son, Jimbo, who is finishing law school.
There was no one thing in particular that triggered Davis’ desire to practice law, but his “deeply rooted interest from my exposure as a child.”
His father, Bob Davis, was an attorney until his 2005 death. Other family members are also involved with the judicial system and law enforcement.
“As I grew older, I began to understand more deeply the wisdom of my parents. I saw how this is an honorable, rewarding profession,” Davis said.
He has practiced law since 1991, some of those years alongside his father.
Davis was recently selected for inclusion in “Super Lawyers 2009.”
The lawyers featured in the yearly magazine are chosen by peer recognition and are then evaluated by a panel.
According to the Super Lawyers magazine, only 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named.
“It’s really a humbling experience to have that recognition by my peers,” Davis said.
He credits his parents, his wife, Andrea, and the lawyers who trained him.
“I hope that I will contribute to others the way others have contributed to me,” he said. “That’s my prayer.”
Davis was born, raised and educated in the public school system of Rowan County.
He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Catawba College and a law degree from Regent University School of Law in Virginia.
He is a board certified specialist in federal and state criminal law.
Davis has been a Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Salisbury. He currently serves on the board of directors for Rowan Helping Ministries and the Salisbury and Rowan County YMCA.
Growing up in a Christian home, Bob and Mary Anne Davis, taught their children to walk in others’ shoes.
Bob Davis taught his son principles that had Christian parallels.
“He said, ‘People have a hard time being mean to a smile.’ ” Davis said of his father. “But what he meant was, you reap what you sow.”
Everything for Davis starts with faith.
“I often pray with my clients,” he said.
He tries to bring the ethics of care to each one of his clients.
“If clients want a hired gun,” Davis said, “they’ve got the wrong lawyer.”
He has several principles he applies to life and career. One is what a person does today will make a difference tomorrow. The other is that it isn’t how a person starts it’s how he finishes.
Fellow attorneys
Throughout his career, Davis has watched other trial lawyers “at their craft.”
He said Rowan County has some very capable lawyers.
Davis uses the vast experiences of others around him as an effective learning tool.
“I learned much from many of my peers who are wonderful in trial, civil or just marvelous in their interaction with people,” he said.
Former Superior Court Judge Larry Ford, who presided over cases argued by Davis, gives high praise.
“He’s a Christian gentleman and a very fine attorney,” Ford said.
Future lawyers
Although his son is studying to become a lawyer and will return to work with him, Davis said he never advocated for his children to become lawyers.
“I never pushed them. I was surprised and pleased when my son said he wanted to go to law school. I was surprised and tickled,” Davis said.
His advice to future lawyers, his son included, is to make certain they want to be attorneys.
“I would tell them they need to have a thirst for it, a hunger for knowledge and a desire to help the poor and want to make humankind better,” he said.
Each school year, Davis talks to elementary, high school and college-age students about the law and what an attorney does.
“I believe the cause is strong. If people do not speak for the powerless, they are silent,” Davis said.
He’s passionate in his belief in justice for all.
Davis said elementary school students want to know what their rights are, while college students are interested in philosophy and logic.
His family is a close-knit group, he said.
He calls his wife, Andrea, brilliant.
“She’s so smart. She’s very astute and has great common sense,” he said.
His wife keeps him balanced, Davis said.
“She’s a constant refuge to my soul,” he said.
His five children are also his anchor, he said.
Davis said something people may not know about him is that he loves to work out and lift weights. But he calls himself an average athlete.
“I’m the worst athlete of my family,” he said.
His son, Jimbo, and wife are decorated athletes.
His sister, Jennifer Davis Hammond, is finishing law school and will also practice law alongside him.
His job
“I love my work. It’s a ministry for me to others,” he said.
So would he like to further that work with public office? “We’ll see,” Davis said.
“Public service is the heart of the very essence of the practice of law. A natural progression is serving in office.”
Davis said he isn’t bothered by visiting his clients in jail.
His approach is to simply ask questions.
Davis said he makes inquiries with experts and specialists in the fields of law enforcement, psychology and government to gain knowledge that he believes benefits his clients.
“The law changes almost daily. It is a never-ending quest for knowledge and justice,” he said.
Davis also said the firm functions with the help of the people who work there.
“It’s why we are such a good firm. It starts with the people out there. They are the highest caliber of employees,” he said.
Each day starts with a hug, said Stacy Montgomery.
“We’re a hugging group,” she said, laughing.
Staff members start the day harmoniously and end with a debriefing, of sorts.
The staff, which also includes Candace Brown, wife Andrea, and his sister, gathers in a huddle to discuss the day’s cases and outcomes.
Sometimes Davis stays long after his staff has left for the day. Other afternoons, they all leave the Main Street office, where the next day they’ll begin again.