Criminal defense and personal injury attorney Randy Reep is the JAX Chamber North Council Small Business Leader of the Year for 2019. President of The Law Offices of Randy Reep, he is eligible for the Small Business Leader of the Year overall award that will be presented at the chamber’s annual small business breakfast Feb. 12 at the Schultz Center.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? The law itself inspired me to become a lawyer. It was clear to me that the law is powerful and not always used in the most just way. I wanted to learn why that was so, and if possible, how I might be able to have an impact in our community.
Someone other than my spouse who inspires me: Condoleezza Rice, a visionary leader and dynamic personality with tremendous integrity.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? I thought my management undergrad and my MBA would guide me to the area of law I would practice. Perhaps those degrees help in running my company, however, my personal injury and criminal defense focus has almost no relationship to my prelaw academics.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? Fate intervened in my plans to be a “business attorney” and I am so grateful. My first legal job was that of an assistant state attorney here in Jacksonville. When I opened my own practice later, I knew I needed to remain in the courtroom. I have chosen to continue practicing criminal defense because I would not be able to find professional satisfaction separated from the arena where our adversarial system of litigation is tested.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? There seems to be an expressed trend to reform the criminal justice system from such matters as prison sentences for small drug issues and the like. It remains my concern that this intent is slow-moving change and the traction will be short-lived.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? In the criminal justice system, the use of cameras, be it through police body wear cameras, drones or commercial closed-circuit TV, will be changing the way communities prosecute criminal cases. Even more dramatically, in the personal injury arena, self-driving cars will hopefully reduce fatalities on our roads, but certainly will change how tort cases are handled.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Endeavor to have our citizens take a meaningful interest in the process before it impacts their family. Also, I would have every trial or hearing televised to educate our community to know how the legal system works. A system that has such an impact on us should not be such a mystery.
What community service have you pursued and why that? My office uses our time, talents and treasures to help disadvantaged and disenfranchised people. Our most representative actions are teaming with the Latin American Motorcycle Association and delivering Christmas presents to migrant workers in Immokalee. You would be challenged to find more forgotten contributors to our world of commerce than these beautiful, hard-working and law-abiding members of our state.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? You have one chance to forge a reputation. Do not underestimate its value.