David Thompson is a trial attorney at Coker Law and vice chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association Law Week Committee.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? Definitely my mother. We watched lawyer/courtroom shows on TV, which created a passion in me for the law. I was in awe of the attorneys in the courtroom figuring out “whodunit.” I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and began doing mock trials and teen court in high school. Growing up, my mother and I would get into discussions which usually ended with her saying, “You should be a lawyer.” As they say, mother knows best.
Someone other than my spouse who inspires me: My father. My parents met in the Army and my mother retired from the military when she had me. Growing up seeing the hard work and dedication my dad had to his family, job and country was inspiring. He taught me to give 110% at anything I do and the “6 P’s” which I live by to this day: Piss-poor planning equals piss-poor performance.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? I majored in criminal justice with a minor in psychology. With my first job as an assistant state attorney my degrees allowed me to look at different aspects of why crime occurred and who committed crime. This helped me better connect with many of the victims, witnesses and even some defendants. Now, as a civil litigator, I use those same lessons when talking with parties to a case or with prospective jurors during jury selection.
How did you decide your practice area? I always wanted to be a prosecutor and, luckily, I was able to do that right out of law school. However, after five years I did not feel I could continue to grow in that opportunity. I decided to switch to civil litigation where I could still help the community receive justice from the wrongful actions of others while growing as an attorney, learning something new each and every day.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would … As a former homicide prosecutor, I would legalize marijuana. It is unnerving how many homicides in Jacksonville are due to marijuana deals gone wrong. If people had a legal option for obtaining it, I feel homicides in Jacksonville would drop drastically and hopefully we would no longer be the murder capital of Florida.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I have joined the board of directors of Inspire to Rise Inc., a nonprofit focused on bettering the community through strengthening the family. They provide behavioral health services, education, community service, arts programs and mentorship programs. Living in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and working in the public sector, I could see that the breakdown of the family unit was affecting our community, especially younger children. Inspire to Rise seeks to help families get back on track, which in turn helps foster a better community for us all to live in.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Join the Jacksonville Bar Association and get involved in Bar activities early on. Unfortunately, I was not given this advice when I first started and it took a few years for me to join, but I have met outstanding members of our legal community who have helped me with networking and mentorship.