You know someone has found her calling when she tells you that defending collection attorneys “made sense.” And the ARM industry is grateful that June Coleman found her calling — instead of opening a restaurant with a bar — and has been defending the industry in the courtroom as well as being one of its most vocal advocates. Read on to learn more about June, why she might be slightly disappointed with Stephen King, and how there is nothing like the smell of a courtroom in the morning.
Name: June Coleman
Company: Carlson & Messer LLP
Length of time at current company: 6 months
Length of time in industry: 20+ years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was a legal malpractice defense attorney when my firm was defending Newman v. CheckRite and Irwin v. Mascott. Defending collection attorneys made sense, which grew to collection agencies, and the experience on those early cases laid the framework to my involvement in the industry today.
What is your career highlight so far?
While some might argue that it is arguing a case like Kubler Corp. v. Diaz in front of the Ninth Circuit, or co-authoring a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in the Jerman v. Carlisle case, I think possibly the greatest thing in my career is taking leadership roles in NCBA as a Director and co-chair of the Amicus Committee and ACA on the MAP Steering Committee and RMA on its Amicus Committee and State Legislative Advocacy Committee.
When or how are you most productive?
While my clients are always amazed that they receive emails from me day and night, I think I am most productive when I have all of the information and in the afternoon. But there is nothing like an 8:00 am oral argument!
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Joann Needleman, who is an excellent attorney, and balances her great lawyering skills with giving back to the industry, even as her role as an advocate has changed.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I would like to say that I know my case better than anyone else, and I think outside the box better than anyone else, while keeping costs in mind.
What do you like most about this industry?
I love the people in this industry, the ability to represent the underdog in most cases, and the interesting cases I encounter.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I would like to level the playing field as to the mindset of the public about our industry. On those occasions when you hear a horrible story about someone who can’t pay their bills, there is no recognition that someone will be negatively impacted when someone doesn’t pay, whether that means the corner store on main street shutting or someone losing their job or someone’s mother paying more for groceries.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I would own a restaurant with a bar where I could dabble in the food end of the business and mix and mingle with the crowds.
Describe a typical work day.
My day begins and ends with storytelling – not fantastical kind of stories – the story of my client … on the phone with opposing counsel, in my briefs to the Court, to the mediator or settlement conference judge, and orally to judges and juries. And during the day, I uncover the parts of the story I tell through discovery, reviewing the evidence and talking with my clients, and then I piece the story together. And I get up the next day and relish the opportunity to do it again.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love cooking, traveling, and throwing parties, so I host a dinner themed on a country or region several times a year for 175 of my closest friends and their guests where everyone brings a dish from the country or region to share.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
To take an active role in deciding my destiny in all things, rather than be buffeted by the winds of fate.
What are you currently reading?
Although I am an avid Stephen King fan, he hasn’t written anything recently. So I am reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson about the imperfections in the American criminal justice system, and the need to temper imperfect justice with mercy and compassion.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
Before I became a lawyer, I did some commercial billing and collections.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
I’d like to see Sonia Gibson at Encore Capital answer these questions, in between hopping planes to talk to legislators.