North Carolina Accident News

Janiere Taylor: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Attorney

Posted on April 2024    

Janiere Taylor is the Complex Personal Injury Pre-Litigation Attorney and Attorney Supervisor for the Negotiations team at DeMayo Law Offices. Janiere earned her undergraduate degree at The College of Saint Joseph in Rutland, Vermont, and her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina having been admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 2000. Janiere has over 20 years of trial experience, serving first as an Assistant District Attorney for Mecklenburg County and later as a civil litigator for an insurance defense firm.”

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law?

According to my Mom, I decided in the second grade I was going to be a lawyer. I came home from school and told her ‘I want to be a lawyer’ and never wavered from it. I come from a family with no legal experience, but at a young age knew that’s what I wanted to pursue. Funny enough, when I was in High School, I sat down with my guidance counselor and took tests to see what my most successful career path would be… mine came back with ‘farmer’ as the top occupation! I can’t grow anything; I would have failed miserably – I knew then, even more so, becoming a lawyer was important to me. I graduated from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and have been practicing for over 24 years.  

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?

I started my career as an Assistant District Attorney in Charlotte, NC and have a lot of stories from over the years. I was a young attorney who spent most days in court. After spending five years as an Assistant District Attorney, I moved to an insurance defense firm. Unexpectedly, one morning, I was called to court for a minor court settlement. I raced over to the courtroom, where it was me, the plaintiff’s attorney, the court reporter, the bailiff, and of course, the judge. The judge called the case and proceeded to chew me out for not wearing a suit jacket in his courtroom. I wasn’t welcome to speak in his courtroom until I was wearing one – and my heart sank. I raced through the courthouse halls looking for a suit jacket to borrow and luckily, a court reporter was willing to lend me her jacket. I went in and finished the settlement. Looking back, I’m able to laugh, being so young and never having experienced anything like that. But believe me, in the moment, I was stressed and so appreciative of the court reporter who lent me her jacket!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

My primary focus is catastrophic personal injury – every case I have someone has significant injuries; a brain injury, someone’s wrongfully passed, a major surgery, etc. Working in this area really gives you perspective and allows me to value things I may normally take for granted. Looking ahead for this year, continuing to create and maintain personal connections with each of my clients – it’s beneficial for myself and the clients and ensures the best results possible. 

What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories?

In my line of work, I see a lot of tragic loss of life and injured individuals. As a Mom to a thirteen-year-old boy, any case involving a child really hits close to the heart. It’s never easy to speak to parents about the loss of their child, and I do my best to do right for them.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

The strength in my beliefs and faith are what keep me grounded each day. God is the center of all I do and helps get me through the horrific cases I see daily.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?

Other than don’t do it? No, I’m kidding…. just make sure it’s something you really want. If you’re only in it to make money, you won’t be successful. You have to put yourself and your family first – I want to be remembered as a good attorney, but a great mother and wife. Also, be smart about it! Don’t go into a lot of debt and have a great mentor. Finding someone who can help and guide you in your career will lead you to success.

If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?

As a Plaintiff’s attorney, I have two main ones.

  1. Contributory Negligence in North Carolina

Contributory Negligence essentially says if the Plaintiff is one percent at-fault, they are not entitled to any recovery. Only four states and the District of Columbia follow contributory negligence. I believe North Carolina should not be one of them.

  1. Evidentiary Rule Regarding Medical Bills 
    1. Rule 414 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence allows for reductions of a plaintiff’s medical bills to the benefit of the at-fault party. This rule of evidence only allows into evidence the amounts actually paid to satisfy the bills regardless of the source or the need for the source to be reimbursed. This unjustly punishes plaintiffs who have health insurance. This essentially means that a Plaintiff can no longer present a bill that reflects the fair market value of medical services. 

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Reflecting on my time as an Assistant District Attorney, I was able to help victims by putting away people who had committed heinous crimes in our community. Dealing with those trials, I was able to lead and help people all while making a difference. Today, my success in being an attorney comes from my clients – getting them strong recoveries, being there for their families, and helping them deal with their catastrophic injuries. My success and goodness are evident in the exceptional results I’m able to provide. 

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

It might sound cliché but helping people. At the closing of a case, having a client or a family member give me a hug and say, ‘thank you,’ is an amazing feeling. It feels good to know I did a good job on their behalf. I treat all my clients like family and am proud to be fighting on their behalf.

What are your ‘5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started,’ and why? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. To be a successful trial attorney, seek a job at the Public Defender or District Attorney office. If you want to litigate cases and become a true trial attorney, after law school you need to go to the Public Defender’s office or the District Attorney office. There, you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to truly try cases and become comfortable in the courtroom. You’ll learn and use the rules of evidence, which is often where new lawyers can sometimes fall short. Positions in these offices allow you to experience the “real thing” – it’s a big step on the path to becoming a successful trial attorney. I’ve tried over 75 jury trials in my career, and although nervous each time (any attorney who tells you they don’t get nervous is lying), I was confident in my ability to stand in front of the courtroom and try cases for my clients. 
  1. Always put your family first. As an attorney, you’re always going to be driven and dedicated to your work. At the beginning of your career, you’ll be focused on climbing that ladder – whatever it may be for you – and you may find yourself forgetting the things that are truly important. It took some time to realize, but after having my son, I didn’t want to miss anything when it came to my family. For me, family is the most important thing. I encourage new lawyers to not put anything above it, even a job, and remember, it’s okay to say no sometimes. 
  1. Ask questions. You have a law degree, but not the experience to put it in to practice. Asking questions allows you to grow. Starting out, I was intimidated to ask questions with fear of looking “stupid” in front of my peers. I quickly learned the way to grow and become a top lawyer in my field, was to ask those questions (and of course, learn from my mistakes).
  1. Be a good listener. Being able to actively listen to your clients as well as your peers allows you to absorb information and learn from it. That can be hard for lawyers, we’re eager to have a response and answer right away, but over the years, I’ve learned the power of actively listening to others. 
  1. Be prepared. You can’t accomplish anything if you’re not prepared. Always have a plan in place – even if you’re wrong or encounter a problem, come prepared with solutions to continue moving forward. Never underestimate the power of being prepared.

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, V.C. Funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the U.S. whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this!

I would love to have brunch with Tory Burch. Who doesn’t love a good pair of shoes and a handbag? But in all seriousness, she created an amazing business and brand, is a strong woman, and a huge philanthropist – I would love to pick her brain on her thought processes and steps she took in building her brand.  

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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