Interview With Warren & Simpson

Hunter Garrnett

This is an interview with Hunter Garrnett, Associate Trial Attorney at Warren & Simpson.

Where were you at 22, and how did you get to where you are today?

I got engaged to my wife on my 22nd birthday. I had graduated from college the previous year and was working at my dad's lawn mower shop in Hartselle, Alabama. I was also working in the evenings and weekends at my grandfather's farm in my hometown of Danville, Alabama. I was one month from beginning law school at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I spent three years in law school. It did not take long for me to realize that I wanted to represent real people in court. I decided that I wanted to represent victims and fight against insurance companies and other large corporations. During law school, I focused on obtaining as much trial and litigation experience as possible. I clerked with trial lawyers and district attorneys. I was selected to be on my school's prestigious national trial team where I was mentored by seasoned trial lawyers. After law school, Warren & Simpson where I have the pleasure and honor of representing victims of bad accidents. I've been mentored by Barton Warren and Derek Simpson for three and a half years now.

I consider it a privilege to work with two of the best lawyers in Alabama. My faith is extremely important to me. It's a blessing to have a career where I get to serve my clients. I view my career as a ministry. I have the honor, and burden, of representing victims of bad accidents while they are going through incredibly difficult circumstances. I am able to use my job to encourage my clients and help them maintain their faith. I got to where I am by utilizing the gifts that the Lord blessed me with and by working hard to constantly improve those skills. I started public speaking in 9th grade at Danville High School. My first public speaking competitors were actually livestock judging contests. That was my first taste of advocacy. I can trace my successes all the way back to the values that I learned on my grandfather's farm. I have worked hard since I was a teenager to be better in every facet of my life. I constantly try to be a better husband, friend, big brother, and attorney. My farm background has played a huge role in shaping me into the man I am today. Watching my grandfather work long hours every single day taught instilled the value of hard work in me. Now I'm working farmer type hours in the office while I advocate for my clients. My family played a huge role in my life and career choice as well. I'm the oldest of seven children. I have six sisters, four of which are adopted through foster care. Growing up as a big brother probably played a role in my desire to lookout for my clients and protect them. A big brother's main job is to look out for his little sisters. My job as an attorney is to look out for my clients.

Lastly, my wife played the final role of steering me towards my future career. My wife is intentional, loving, and caring. She helped soften me so that I'm more intentional and aware of the emotional needs of my clients and friends. She balances me out. Where I'm abrasive and aggressive, she's kind and loving. Where I'm quick to act, she is patient. Her qualities have helped fill my "gaps". She helped shape me into the loving and caring man that I am today. She somewhat softened this hardened farm boy. Whew, that's probably more than you bargained for. Faith, family, and farming are what got me to where I am today.

When did you really decide to "take ownership" of your career? What inspired you to pursue your passion?

Honestly, I have always taken ownership of my life and career. I have been intensely focused on improving myself since I was a child. I have constantly read, studied, practiced, and honed my skills. At an early age, I knew my career would involve a lot of communicating and interpersonal skills. Later on, I discovered that I had a passion for helping people. My parents became foster parents when I was 15 years old. I started going on international mission trips when I was 17 years old and spent nine weeks in Serbia doing mission work between high school and college. For a long time, I thought the Lord was leading me to the international mission field. That was not the Lord's plan for me though. God opened all the right doors throughout my life to place me in the career that I have right now. He has blessed me with an opportunity to help victims of bad accidents. It is a hard job with lots of pressures but I love my career.

All good career stories include some aspect of "risk." Was there a moment in your career where you felt that you were risking something, but looking back on it now, that move made all the difference?

During law school, I assumed that my wife and I would stay in Birmingham for our careers. My wife had a great career there. But God had different plans in store for us. Honestly, I struggled to find a job that I was excited about. I spent most of my last year of law school applying for dozens of jobs. I had job offers, thankfully, but none of them excited me. Most of them involved tedious paperwork and the representation of large corporations. I grew up in a blue collar community in a working-class family. I knew I wanted to represent real people. About two months before graduation, my law school's career development director asked me to apply for a job in Huntsville, Alabama. I was reluctant because taking the job would require my wife to give up her job, but the Huntsville firm was looking for a new associate who was at the top of their class and had extensive mock trial experience. Long story short, I interviewed with Barton Warren and we hit it off. Everything felt like a great fit, except the job would require my wife to quit hers and move to Huntsville.

Where do you find significance in your work? What gives you the most satisfaction?

I love producing a great outcome for a client. Frequently, there isn't enough money to make the client whole or put them back in the position they were in before the accident. I hate those cases. Fortunately, I also get to handle cases where the client is made whole after a settlement or verdict. Just two weeks ago, I settled a case for a young man who is a double amputee. He had a double amputation at his hips when he was 2 years old. His parents adopted him through foster care. He has never had a handicap accessible vehicle or a handicap accessible home. When he was 33, he was involved in a car wreck that injured his shoulder. He was forced to move back in with his parents until his shoulder healed. We were able to settle his case and provide him with enough money to buy a used van with a wheelchair lift and a tiny home that is also wheelchair accessible.

I also find significance when I'm able to provide encouragement to my clients. I frequently use John 9 to encourage my clients. As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” I use that scripture to illustrate that God has a sovereign plan for us and our suffering. I use that scripture to encourage my clients to persevere and continue to be a light for their family, their community, and for the world.

How do you measure success in your role? How do you know you're succeeding?

I measure my success by asking whether I am better than I was last week. My goal is to look back at the end of every week and say that I'm better than I was the week before. I try very hard to not compare myself to my peers and colleagues. My measure of success isn't whether I'm the best trial lawyer in Huntsville. My measure of success is whether I'm the best me that I can be.

If you could offer your 22-year old self one piece of advice, what would you say?

I would say to just keep grinding. God has a plan. All you can do is work hard and allow God to open the right doors.