In Attorney at Work’s A2J Q&A series, Mary Juetten checks in with lawyers and entrepreneurs working on the access to justice problem. This time, Kevin Almeroth talks about his practice in a midsize, blue-collar law firm that “has its finger on the pulse of helping people who don’t have a chest of money marked ‘unanticipated legal fees.'”
Once again Sarah Kieny, profiled here, has made an excellent connection for our A2J interview series. Please meet Kevin Almeroth, principal and managing attorney of the Atlanta office of Deming, Parker, Hoffman, Campbell & Daly, LLC, where he also co-leads the firm’s LegalShield division.
Kevin is a graduate of The Citadel and served as a captain in the United States Air Force. While on active duty, he earned his master’s degree in business administration at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He earned his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and received his L.L.M. in taxation from the University of Alabama. Kevin is admitted to practice law in Georgia and Alabama, and he is an accredited attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Kevin began his legal career as an associate for Deming Law. In 1997, he accepted a position as an assistant district attorney for the Eastern Judicial Circuit and relocated to Savannah, Georgia. When Deming Law opened its Savannah office in 1999, Kevin returned to the firm to manage that office. He remained there until 2005 when he returned to the firm’s Atlanta office as the supervising attorney in the LegalShield division. In 2013, Kevin was named as the managing attorney. In addition to his supervisory duties, Kevin’s areas of practice include criminal law, administrative law and civil litigation.
Here’s Kevin’s Q&A.
- When I was a kid I wanted to be: A pilot … school bus driver was a close second.
- My greatest accomplishment: Being a devoted spouse, son and brother.
- Never forget to: Be courteous.
- I work best: In a quiet office late in the day.
- My best ideas come from: The shower.
- The toughest lesson I’ve learned is: Take the time to do it right.
- The most rewarding lesson I’ve learned is: It never hurts to ask.
- My pick-me-up is: A smoothie with green veggies and ginger.
- My attitude toward life is: Always find a way for the glass to be half-full.
- Best advice I’ve ever received is: Always put yourself in the shoes of the other person.
Describe your morning routine.
Ideally, work out, walk the dog and hit the road to court or the office. Full disclosure — that doesn’t happen every day.
What is the first thing you “check” each morning?
Emails and texts.
What’s your email strategy?
FIFO (First In, First Out; it doesn’t always serve me so well).
What’s your best productivity habit?
Seeking quiet time when I can get it.
What’s your favorite productivity tool?
Our practice management software — in addition to contacts, it manages calendaring, email, documents, research, billing and so on.
What’s the one habit you wish you could kick?
What do you let slide?
Not much, unfortunately; I wish I could practice what I preach in that regard, in which case I wouldn’t worry so much about the things I can’t control.
Deeper Dive into Deming, Parker’s A2J Commitment
How do you define access to justice (A2J)?
Access is the biggest initial roadblock for most folks, so the ability our LegalShield clients have to simply call a toll-free number in order to speak with an attorney is huge, and the most basic step to gaining peace of mind in an often stressful situation.
Tell us about your connection to access to justice.
Aside from my stint as a government prosecutor, I’ve spent my entire career working in a medium-sized, blue-collar law firm that has its finger on the pulse of helping people who don’t have a chest of money marked “unanticipated legal fees” when it comes to dealing with legal issues that befall people of modest means every day.
How are you solving access to justice for your clients?
Being a provider law firm for LegalShield members in Georgia is like having an attorney on retainer. Members simply call and give a brief description of their issue, and they are connected with an appropriate attorney to assist with their legal matter.
What role does technology play in access to justice?
Technology affords the opportunity for “real-time” advice and discussion. Documents can be instantaneously sent, reviewed and discussed. Conference calls allow for efficient discussion and dissemination of information and advice where multiple actors are in different locations. Technology makes access to justice more cost-efficient and further helps level the playing field for clients with limited financial resources.
Do you see the “digital divide” (access to technology) as an issue?
Definitely. There’s no doubt that it’s not a level playing field; however, that’s not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle to providing access to counsel and effective assistance to people who do not have access to technology.
Do you see client knowledge of legal issues (or the education gap) as an issue?
Yes, it’s an issue. Clients usually see their issue from a micro perspective, with little context as to the legal norms. Trained service providers can educate clients about standards, acceptable practices and settled legal responsibilities, all of which helps to set and manage expectations. Service providers can also bridge the gap by being reasonably accessible to, and communicative with, their clients.
What have you had to change based on feedback?
We now provide our clients with a draft of the letter (or documents) for their approval before mailing to the opposition. This prevents any misunderstanding and the client sees in advance what is being done on their behalf.
What have you learned the hard way?
Delegation is a necessary and valuable tool.
How are you growing the firm?
By increasing the presence and visibility of the firm through marketing tools such as a monthly newsletter and a Facebook page, and sponsoring and participating in educational seminars and events within our community.
Where does funding come from?
Client and settlement fees, plus steady income from being a provider firm for a national legal services plan.
What is your best tip for supporting access to justice?
Promote the concept of thinking outside the box when it comes to the provision of legal services. That may include, when appropriate, discounting legal fees, accepting payment plans and engaging in pro bono work, all of which serve to increase the accessibility of our services and decrease the roadblocks to obtaining those services.
Where is the A2J movement going?
It can only continue to gain momentum and recognition as it increases the focus on providing opportunities for people to obtain access to counsel.
Where are you going?
It’s very personally and professionally rewarding to be involved in solving problems for people, and my goal is to continue devoting my professional life to providing access and legal services to folks who might not otherwise have the financial means or the connections to engage counsel.
Access to justice is not possible without attorneys like Kevin. Learn more at this year’s Elevate by LegalShield in Denver from June 20 to 22.
Find out more information about Deming, Parker, Hoffman, Campbell & Daly, LLC here and about Kevin Almeroth here.
Read additional A2J interviews by Mary Juetten here.