IB Member Spotlight: Stephen A. Barnes

StephenBarnes3Stephen A. Barnes

Barnes Trial Group

Tampa, FL

 

5 Fast Facts:

ON THE WEEKENDS you can find me at one of the following: a Little League field, hockey arena, horse paddock or pool deck—depending on which of my five children has an event that day.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME would be Christian, husband and father.

MY MOST EXHILARATING MOMENTS are the birth of each of my children. On a professional level, it’s when you hear the knock or buzzer that signifies a verdict is coming in—it’s always a thrill.

FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM? Gators fan all the way!

SOMETHING YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ME is that I was once attacked by a shark while spearfishing in the Bahamas—my father was with me, and his injuries got him a helicopter ride to the nearest trauma unit. It all turned out okay, but certainly an experience.

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What advice might you give a young lawyer looking to start their own practice?

SAB: First and foremost, I would tell someone who is just starting out that it’s important to find an area of the law that you’re passionate about. I would then quickly remind them that their new practice is a business as well, and they need to view it as such when making decisions. Often this is an aspect of venturing out on your own that is overlooked, but it’s important to continually develop and grow your practice with this in mind.

What would you say is your favorite part about the profession?

SAB: Definitely it’s hearing later from my clients, understanding how my interaction with them affected their lives for the better. I once helped a veterinarian who had left his practice due to a problem with alcohol. In an effort to refocus, he’d discovered the benefits of hard labor while working on a dredge out in the Gulf—subsequently being injured on the job and seeking legal counsel. With the recovery I helped him obtain, he was able to start a new veterinary practice and his life is now in a great place.

What do you foresee in the future of trial law? How have things changed since you first started your practice?

SAB: Unfortunately, I believe some aspects of our profession are headed in a direction that concerns me. There is certainly a growing trend to try and “corporatize” the practice of law, something you see with the large multi-state and non-owner law firms. Such structure has a negative effect on the attorney-client relationship, and I think it should be avoided. I am also seeing more difficulties with simply getting to trial—the fact that more and more cases are being settled behind closed doors rather than in an open courtroom is one of the biggest jeopardies that our legal system is facing right now.

Can you tell us about any recent involvement with a community outreach program?

SAB: As an attorney and an individual, it’s important to be involved with your community. I like that the Injury Board provides members with the opportunity to give back via their Day of Action program. This year, the Barnes Trial Group collected 125 backpacks stuffed with school supplies and dispensed them to needy kids through the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay. We also hosted a back-to-school celebration for the children and I think everyone really had a great time—it’s always a special event for us.

In an era of technology and information sharing, how has the Injury Board been of value to your firm?
SAB: The Injury Board has been a great source for sharing—I’ve definitely enjoyed the camaraderie between members. I also very much appreciate the fact that everyone is forward-thinking when it comes to the use of technology and all the media platforms that are available to us today. Utilizing these tools is certainly an important part of effectively running the business side of one’s law practice.

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