Eugene Nichols is chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association Criminal Law Committee.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? My parents. My father has practiced law for more than 50 years and I cannot remember a time when my parents were not helping someone in need. Their generosity to others led me to this opportunity to help others with their problems.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and history from Jacksonville University. Both studies required extensive reading and writing skills, traits integral to the practice.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? My first job was working for Lou Frost at the Public Defender’s Office. With a desire to help folks who need help, there was no greater opportunity than to learn from Mr. Frost. That, and he was the first person to offer me a job.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? Eight years ago, Ted Pina left Terrell Hogan so we could form Nichols & Pina. Having been friends since fourth grade, we always wanted to work together. Ted has an extremely successful personal injury and wrongful death practice. Before this firm, I had only focused on criminal or civil defense. The pursuit of justice for clients who have suffered tragedy in their lives is the biggest and best change of my practice.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? I think I will leave everyone guessing on this one. However, some do think I look good in black.
If I could change anything in the legal system? We need to rethink the discovery process in family and civil cases. The widespread abuse of the system with frivolous objections, gamesmanship and failure to just abide by (or know) the rules of procedure cause unnecessary delay in cases.
What community service have you pursued and why that? For 11 years I served on the board of trustees of St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School. Being just a small part of the process of preparing tomorrow’s leaders was a true pleasure. I also recently served the board of trustees for the nonprofit Angels for Allison. Angels raises money to provide financial and emotional support for families who are suffering the loss of a child.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? My father is of counsel with our law firm. Every once in a while he will walk by my office when I am on the phone, raise his finger to his lips and remind me to stop talking and start listening. It is great advice, for lawyers both old and young: Don’t talk, listen.