Interview with Attorneys Mark Smith & Keith Wilcutt
#1: What made you choose a career in law?
Mark – I always had an interest in the law. I was a government and political science major in college. I was fascinated by judiciary system and had a strong liking for criminal law. When I was in college, I got a DUI. Having gone through the process myself, I can relate to my clients who are in similar situations. My real passion is in handling criminal law cases, but I also do family law and some probate.
Keith – My father was an attorney. Law was talked about at the family dinner table. I always had an interest in it. I majored in political science at the University of Kentucky. I find the law fascinating. I wouldn't trade my career for anything.
#2: In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
Mark – Both my business partner, Keith and I are from the Bowling Green area. We grew up here. We're local guys. We know the people here and we went to college here. I like that we're involved in this community.
Keith – My business partner and I are both young. We both worked under an experienced attorney and have practiced for many years, considering our ages. We learned by getting in the courtroom. We've both done more than most attorneys our age. We've tried a lot of cases. We also get to work together and play off each other's strenghs when it comes to our cases. We are able to share our knowledge and experience. When you work with our firm, you work with both Mark and myself.
#3: Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of
Mark – I was co-counsel n a murder case at my previous firm. I tried the case with my former partner. My client was convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter, but we appealed the conviction and it was recently overturned.
Keith – There are a lot of cases I'm proud of, but one in particular that comes to mind was when I represented a man whose daughter was in a terrible family situation. I helped him get the custody order modified and ultimately the judge ruled in our favor. The child is now back in the care of her father.
#4: What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
Mark – I start by getting to know my client and connecting with my client. I get all the facts before rolling up my sleeves to start defending client. A lot of hard work, diligence, dedication and research go into each case. I review the relevant case law and make sure that I have a good grasp of it and the particular issues involved in the case. I take a lot of time to prepare for a case. I consult with experts. I review all the documentation.
Keith – To begin with, I'm always accessible to my clients. I meet with my clients. I take time before a trial to be prepared. My legal partner and I both work on the case together. We're both familiar with all of the faces of every case. We're both always going to be prepared and ready for trial.
#5: How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
Mark – I'm there for my clients. I like to establish a connection with my clients and my clients know they've hired me to fight for them. My clients can call me day or night. Accessibility is a big thing. My clients have my cell phone number. I'm also very ethical. I don't do anything that would put me in jeopardy of losing my license.
Keith – I am very accessible to my clients. I give almost every client my cell phone number. We're in touch by e-mail, text, and phone. I'm as responsive as I can be with my clients. The bottom line is that I'm here for them.
#6: What sets you apart from other attorneys – why is this important?
Mark – My youth and energy. I've already practiced for 10 years. I know enough legally to be the most dangerous person in the courtroom. My accessibility sets me apart. I'm down to earth. I'd consider myself a work horse of an attorney. I'm a blue collar guy. I have reasonable fees and will work with someone who will make payments. I'm not going to turn someone away if we can help.
Keith – I'm younger than a lot of attorneys in this area. I'm enthusiastic. I have a different mindset than other attorneys. I personally handle a lot of domestic and civil cases. I've been divorced and I understand how the process goes. I can also sympathize with my clients who are going through the process. I have kids and can relate to the custody issues that can arise from these situations.
#7: How does having experience benefit your clients?
Mark – My clients know what to expect because I can prepare them. Keith and I have done this long enough to sit someone down and let them know what they're looking at. I can keep my clients from being stressed out and anxious. I will hold their hand and walk them through this difficult time. It is extremely stressful being charged with a crime. I can give them some assurance. I do my best to take the burden and stress off client.
Keith – I'm well versed in going to court. I know the family court rooms and criminal courtrooms. I know the prosecutors. I have handled cases in the entire region. I know all of the judges. I have a great deal of courtroom experience. I've consistently tried cases. I've handled hundreds of juvenile cases.
#8: What types of cases do you specifically handle?
Mark – I primarily handle a wide range of criminal cases. This is a college town. We see a lot of DUIs. I also handled misdemeanor offenses, such as marijuana cases. There are also a good number of bigger drug cases that I handle. One of the rewarding aspects of my job is to put the client in a position where they are happy with the outcome.
I also handle family cases. I take cases involving abused children and I'm looking out for the best interest of the child and making sure that child is safe. I make sure the parents have completed the steps they need to do get family reunited. I handle some probate cases as well.
Keith – I handle criminal, custody, family law and domestic violence cases. The majority of my cases are family law, although I do a good number of criminal cases as well, which range from misdemeanors to felonies, and even federal criminal cases.
#9: In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Mark – At the end of the day, the most rewarding aspect of my job is that I get to help people.
Keith – I love what I do. The hours are not the best. At times I get tired of dealing with people, but I wouldn't want to do anything else.
#10: What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
Mark – I tell my clients to keep their mouth shut and call me. Be smart. If you're ever pulled over by the police, your most important right is the right to remain silent. Don't' make the case for them. Let me deal with the police.
Keith – I advise my clients to remain silent. In dealing with people going through a divorce or custody issues, I often find myself telling my clients to be the bigger person. You may not like the new situation, the new girlfriend/boyfriend, etc., but don't say something that will create a further problem. Things will ultimately go your way. I also advise my clients to be careful of what they post on social media.