Cole Casey, senior partner at Casey & Wood, says his entry into the field of defending people facing Driving Under the Influence charges was unplanned.
He quit his first job out of law school working for an insurance defense firm because he hated it and decided to do “pop-up law,” taking on issues that came his way.
A few friends of his got arrested for DUI, and Casey agreed to defend them.
Casey has been focusing on that type of work ever since and his rise in the legal ranks has been noted.
He said one of the keys to becoming a nationally respected DUI defense lawyer was honing expertise in every aspect of his subject area he could.
Casey learned about the science and police procedures involving DUI cases, and he attended many relevant conferences across the country.
“I decided I wanted to be the man to see for DUI cases,” said Casey, 51.
He also has become an expert on how to handle potential administrative action against his clients by the licensing boards of their professions.
Casey's knowledge and effectiveness has brought him a number of high-profile clients, ranging from athletes to judges to CEOs.
One of his best-known clients was former Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and he defended a former top Starbucks executive.
Casey has earned the respect of his colleagues and now often finds himself sharing the stage with experts he had idolized.
In the summer of 2013, after more than 10 years of attending the National College of DUI Defense at Harvard University, he was named a member of the teaching faculty.
Casey is the only San Diego attorney who is on faculty of the group whose members include the top DUI defense attorneys in the country.
“For everyone who takes the craft seriously, attending the National College every summer is a must,” Casey said.
Casey is also a former member of the California DUI lawyers Association’s board and is a co-author of the highly regarded “California Drunk Driving Defense Manual.”
Another reason for Casey's success has been his strength as a litigator. He was named one of The National Trial Lawyers' Top 100 Trial Lawyers for 2014.
Casey said the key to winning a trial is making a positive connection with the jury.
“You have to be able to relate to a jury and have the jury not only relate to you, but relate to what is that you are saying,” Casey said.
Mutual trust is also very important, he said.
“When you achieve that with a jury, getting them to follow the law and disregard their prejudice and biases becomes slightly easier,” Casey said.
In more recent years, finding a better work-life balance also has helped Casey thrive.
Casey credited Chelsea, his wife, with helping him realize the importance of taking some time off. They like traveling and spending time with their son, Lachlan, and Casey’s son from a prior marriage, Hunter.
“You have to enjoy the journey and not just make it about the destination,” Casey said.