This week my twin boys turned one year old. And what a year it’s been, as you might imagine. Normally I imagine my way into Bill Coats’ mind and write from his point of view as if I were the best personal injury lawyer in Bellingham and Whatcom County beyond, but today I just want to write as a mother and employee of Bill’s as I reach my two-year anniversary with his firm.
I’ve learned so much in this time. I’d put these realizations along two parallel paths – one, about Bill’s character, and the other about his work as a personal injury lawyer. Both themes impact how I mother, much like everything else in my life from my own birth and every new day since.
The image of a personal injury lawyer is of course the stereotypical fat cat barking on TV about being the toughest lawyer you’ll find, when he’s not out there chasing ambulances. I imagine there are some lawyers out there who truly are that way. Bill is so not that way. He goes to yoga! He wanted to teach high school and coach sports for a time. He got into the field during law school because his mother was burglarized, and her dealings with the insurance company were more stressful than the burglary in the first place. And though I’m only a part time employee working behind the scenes, he still paid me maternity leave at my full pay rate for months even beyond what he’d originally offered. Just because he’s a nice guy who wants the people around him to be happy. He’s the kind of guy for whom you simply want to do good things. I think my favorite thing about him is that he knows he doesn’t have to put on a tough act in order to be a tough lawyer. I woud hate to be opposing council, not because he’s obnoxious and egotistical like the stereotypical personal injury lawyer you think of. But because he’s smart and works hard. So he uncovers obscure laws and precedents that help his clients win more money. You can read a couple examples of that in his case results. He knows you don’t have to literally fight in the courtroom, so there’s no need to act like you are about to. But the laws are complicated and require hard work and knowledge to navigate and use in order to find justice for those who would be utterly lost in a courtroom, namely, everyone who did not earn a JD. Did I mention he got his law degree from Tulane with honors? No slouch. Hard work and perseverance, creativity and kindness, and a deep knowledge and determination to not let BS shortchange his clients is his MO. He’s got a great sense of humor too. If every personal injury lawyer were like him, that ridiculous stereotype would not exist, and lawyers would be seen as the good ones are viewed, simply experts in a complicated field who happen to be a cornerstone of what truly makes America…. no, I can’t say it. But is actually one of the foundations of our country’s original ethos. These are the values I want to impart to my kids.
The other realization I’ve had in the past year comes straight out of my crash course into motherhood with not one but two (awesome, amazing, adorable, oh my god they’re so great) babies. Granted, I started to pay better attention to my driving before I got pregnant because of blogging for Bill Coats Law. I read statistics and write about drunk and distracted driving and other horrible things that people do while operating two-tons of machinery. It matters, folks. Bill’s passionate about distracted driving awareness because it’s one of the most dangerous things people can do, and actually do on a routine basis. There will always be a need for personal injury lawyers – people are human and make errors; we live in a complicated world. This is a fact I more than appreciate lately as my boys begin to walk, and thus may careen into myriad dangers such as electrical cords, stairs, or just a handful of grapes. As we all grow older, we do so in an increasingly fast-paced world with more and more people in it. Products aren’t always safe, people don’t always do the right thing, and insurance companies don’t always offer the highest compensation to their customers no matter how many years policies have been paid. So, while I hope that my imparting and practicing mindful awareness to and for my boys will help them become thoughtful, considerate people, I’m glad for people like Bill who can help them out if they come across someone who isn’t.
Just a few appreciations on this week when I count my many blessings. These two one-year-olds are game changers for me, and are really helping me grow up, and think about teaching values and integrity. Thank you, Bill, for all the ways you’ve supported me so I can support them, and for being a great member of our community!