Meet This Month's LAWYER OF ATLANTIC COUNTY #LOAC
Modeled after the infamous HUMANS OF NEW YORK (#HONY) Site, the ACBA Young Lawyers Division started LAWYERS OF ATLANTIC COUNTY (#LOAC) to to get to know our members on a more personal level. Each month, the ACBA Young Lawyers Division Executive Board chooses a different attorney to be featured here as the Lawyer of Atlantic County. Attorneys are nominated by their peers; any attorney who is nominated but not chosen to be featured in a given month will automatically be put back into the running for each subsequent month until featured. Interview questions typically focus on the attorney's professional and life experiences.
Richard M. King, Esq.
Law Office of Richard M. King, LLC, Somers Point, NJ July 25, 2018
By: Dan Solt, Esq., ACBA Trustee and YLD Chair
For this month’s #LOAC feature, I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard King, Esquire. Rich attended Rider University where he majored in Political Science. He graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 1995 and served as law clerk to the Honorable Anthony Gibson, P.J.Ch., from 1995-1996. After his clerkship, Rich worked for 19 years at the firm Ford, Flower, Hasbrouck & King, eventually becoming a partner. Rich currently works at the Law Office of Richard M. King, Jr., LLC. Rich is a former Trustee of the Atlantic County Bar Association. Rich lives in Linwood with his wife Rita and 17 year-old twins Richard and Caroline.
Thank you, Rich, for taking the time out to share your experiences and advice with young lawyers and readers of the #LOAC!
Where are you from originally?
I grew up on a lagoon in Mystic Islands, New Jersey, which is the in the southern most point of Ocean County. There’s was never all that much in Mystic Islands so you went south for a lot of stuff.
What kept you in the area?
My Clerkship. My wife was from Margate, and I was from Mystic Islands. When I applied for jobs during law school, I was looking at big firms in Philadelphia. I was up to my third interview at Blank Rome, and the only jobs available down here that early were clerkships, because all the other firms usually wait, so I had to make a decision in the fall of my third year. So I applied for a clerkship, met Judge L. Anthony Gibson and when I was offered that job I knew I wanted to be down the shore. I felt like Judge Gibson was a star so I knew that was the right decision to make.
What drove you to pursue a career in law? Do you have any lawyers in your family?
I had never had a conversation with a lawyer before I became a lawyer, except for a conversation with a gentlemen named Richard Alten. He was kind enough to sit down and have lunch with me. Also in undergrad I had a professor who was very into constitutional law, and I found that very interesting. I abandoned my scholarship for my MBA and decided to study political science and learn about constitutional law. When I came to him at the end, after doing well in his classes and overall, and asked him what do I do now, he said you become a political science professor. I knew I did not want to become a political science professor, so the only other option was going to law school so that’s what I did. But I did not grow up wanting to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a stockbroker.
After law school you clerked for the Honorable L. Anthony Gibson, could you talk about that?
There are not enough superlatives for my clerkship. I did not really know any lawyers or have any connections in Atlantic County and Judge Gibson knew everyone in Atlantic County and I ended up getting the job. While he would probably say that is a credit to me, I believe that it is a credit to him that he picked me on merit and a connection during the interview process and not necessarily from the many other people he could have chosen. I’m very grateful for that and the opportunity to meet people and be associated with him which has helped me a lot. We still have lunch every Monday or Tuesday, every week.
What did you do after your clerkship?
I asked Judge Gibson what were the best firms in Atlantic County for me. He gave me three firm names, and I was fortunate to receive a job offer from Ford Flower.
What were some of the challenges for a young lawyer starting at a firm?
The challenge is really that you don’t know anything. You want to do so well and you think you’re prepared and then you find out you don’t know many of the things that matter in a law firm. How to deal with clients, which is not something you can learn before you actually have a client, you have to be in it and learn how to manage them and how they manage you. Coming out of a clerkship I felt I knew how to deal with judges better then someone who didn’t clerk and how to deal with their staff. But I found the greatest challenge was trying hard to be good but worrying you weren’t doing it right.
How many years were you with the firm?
Only nineteen years… I just left 3 years ago after nineteen years with basically the same firm, the same core group of people. But after nineteen years I knew it was time to go out on my own and it was something I wanted to do while my children were young enough to see me have my own business and think in those terms when they choose their career path.
What do you enjoy about having your own practice?
Having more control over the firm’s finances, for good or bad they are mine to deal with. Also I like running the business and doing stuff outside typical legal work. I like doing the billing, doing the books and doing the insurance. I really enjoy all the parts that go into running your own business.
What are some of the challenges?
I haven’t found anything about running the firm too difficult. As long as you work hard at it and listen to others about better ways to do it I don’t believe it’s that hard to run a firm. What is hard though is being on your own and not having your friends around intellectually, emotionally and mechanically. You don’t have people to back you up or proof read your work. Mostly it’s having people around to talk with after court, having people around that suffer how you suffer.
Throughout your over-two-decade career, are there any memories that stick out?
Most of my strongest memories are from my clerkship, perhaps because it was such a unique time. A lot of the lawyering blends together, but the clerkship stands out. Personally I remember the things were I didn’t do something as well as I should or I missed something. Those usually stand out more than the ones I "won." It is rare in this profession that everything comes together to form a “perfect” result.
One case that does stand out is a situation where these people wanted to adopt a child and they had to put off the adoption because their house was collapsing, the builder had messed up the foundation. They were not wealthy people and were in no position to have complex commercial litigation. I filed the complaint and wrote a letter to Judge Donio, and I told him we have to find a way to solve this case. Judge Donio brought both sides in and we were able to settle the case that day. They were able to adopt the child and now they send me a picture every year.
What advice would you give to young attorneys about the day-to-day grind that goes into running a successful practice?
You have to be careful how you define success. You may define success a certain way, achieve it, and realize that really isn’t successful. You have to figure out what type of attorney you want to be and work towards that. You will learn that from your mentors. You have to select your mentors very early. You have to be careful when you first get into a firm, if you have a bad feeling about it and the work that’s being done there you need to get out. Where you end up and who you work for makes a big difference and I was fortunate enough to go from Anthony Gibson to Willis Flower.
What would you enjoy specifically about the Atlantic County Bar?
The Atlantic County Bar has a strong sense of community. What you have is a collection of individuals who grew up in small towns and they all treat each other that way, they want to have personal connections with most things. As a result of that it’s a very personal bar. A lot of people who practice here are from here, I’m an outsider, and I grew up twelve miles outside Atlantic City.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I grew up on a lagoon so I’ve always liked to fish in the bay. I also play squash, only because my original partners, Willis Flowers and Dave Hasbrouck played squash. When I first went there they asked if I played squash and I said I don’t know what that is. I told them I played tennis and they thought maybe I would take it up and luckily it translated pretty well. Otherwise my family takes up most of my time. I have 17 year old twins so I try to be involved with them as much as possible.
What’s the best concert you’ve been to?
U2, Joshua Tree Tour at JFK. Bruce Springsteen came out on stage for the encore. At the time, Bruce Springsteen and U2 together was a pretty big deal. Bono had a broken arm for the show, but it was a fantastic show.
If you could do anything other than law, what would you be doing?
If I could do anything now other law it would be journalism. I’d like to be a writer, an Op-Ed writer or investigative journalist. I’m not saying I would be great at it, but I think that is a thing you can do that most affects the course of government aside from running for office.
If you could go anywhere for dinner in Atlantic County, where are you going?
I guess I’m supposed to pick somewhere fancy but I really enjoy Charlie’s. My neighbor is one of the owners, and it’s a really fun place. You feel relaxed there and they have all different types of food that is good, not just the wings. It’s just a good neighborhood bar.
Where do you see yourself in 10 or 15 years?
I’d like to be mostly retired. I won’t be retired yet, but I hope to have a practice where I work with clients that I know and be able to do it in a more social way with colleagues as opposed to adversarial. There’s a chance I will do something completely different. If I’m ever presented with something very different, like an in house position for a company or start up, I would seriously consider such an opportunity. Not that I don’t like being a lawyer, just that maybe there is something else out there to try and maybe be good at...
Want to nominate a local attorney for the next edition of #LOAC?
Message us below!
Lawyers of Atlantic County
was created in 2015 by the Atlantic County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division