Kayla Haines recently joined the Smith Hulsey & Busey law firm, where she practices business and commercial litigation. She is the 2018-19 membership director of the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? As a young girl, my family recognized in me a passion to advocate for what I believe in. My mother is the person who suggested I might be a lawyer one day and from this, my first career aspirations were born. However, like so many others, I changed my mind a lot. I went from pursuing a career as a surgeon, then a teacher, then a television broadcaster in undergrad. After undergrad, I found myself lacking in passion to pursue a career as a broadcaster and instead went back to my first dream, lawyer.
One person (other than my partner) who inspires me: I am constantly inspired by many women I’ve met through my involvement in JWLA. I am lucky enough to work closely with some of the most influential women in our profession at this time, and I am reminded daily by them that hard work and dedication will pay off.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? The most important thing I bring to my practice from my undergraduate degree is how I carry myself in the courtroom. My television broadcasting degree came with ample experience being in front of the camera and interacting (unscripted) with individuals live. Plenty of times I had to react quickly and think on my feet in order to save a live shot or live studio broadcast. This translates nicely into a skill set I have developed in the courtroom. I am able to succinctly answer questions from a judge or to provide a focused response to argument from opposing counsel.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? In law school, my favorite classes were contracts and business associations. I then decided to pursue my MBA simultaneously and fell in love with business administration and management. Ever since, I have been passionate about helping businesses small and large as legal counsel for every aspect of their business. Business and commercial litigation and business transactions provide new and exciting opportunities and challenges daily. I never see the same issue twice and I am constantly having to think critically on my feet. It is a very exciting segment of law.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? I foresee a shift in how attorneys bill clients for their services. Although I do not see legal professionals fully abandoning the billable hour, I think that a move toward more blended agreements, such as flat fee or hybrid retainer/billable hour plans, will happen gradually over time.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Streamline the discovery process. Cases are delayed often due to discovery disputes and clients suffer most while waiting for their attorneys to sort out these very avoidable disagreements.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I have been heavily involved with the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association, and this year I am honored to serve as its director of membership. Through my service with this organization, I have been able to serve my community in a number of different ways, including opening the Nursing Lounge in the Duval County Courthouse, which was a catalyst for many other courthouses in the state to follow suit. I have always been passionate about equality for female professionals in the workplace, and JWLA is an incredible organization devoted to making strides in this area, not only for female attorneys, but professional females across the board. I am also involved with the Young Lawyers Section of the Jacksonville Bar Association. This organization puts on events throughout the year that benefit charitable organizations around the city. It was an honor to help plan, organize and take part in the annual Chili Cook-Off, which this year raised more than $10,000 for Rethreaded, an organization that provides a second chance through employment opportunities for survivors of human trafficking.