We recently had the pleasure of getting to know South Carolina personal injury attorney Mark Chappell Jr.
Here's what we learned:
Early life and law school
Mark Chappell Jr. isn't one to turn away from a good challenge. He grew up in a family of lawyers who fervently warned him about the challenges of practicing law. At first, he listened to them, choosing to pursue a career in banking. But the banking world didn't interest him, so despite warnings from family members, he enrolled in the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2012.
Mark thrived in law school. He participated on the law school's mock trial team, served as president of the South Carolina Association for Justice Student Bar, and served as social vice-chairman for the University of South Carolina School of Law Student Body.
Mark also somehow found time to clerk for the South Carolina Senate and the chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
“The opportunity to be in chambers with the justices following oral arguments was fascinating and helped me learn the best attributes for making clear and concise arguments.”
After law school, Mark joined Chappell, Smith & Arden, where he has recovered millions of dollars for clients in cases involving tractor-trailer collisions, dog bites, motor vehicle collisions, wrongful death lawsuits, consumer law violations, and premises liability claims.
He continues to take on the challenges that others caution him about. Just this year, Mark met a prospective client who had suffered a spinal cord contusion resulting in partial paralysis when he was bitten by a dog while making a delivery.
Mark's law partners told him the case was unwinnable, and the insurance company told him he didn't have a chance—but Mark was up for the challenge.
“I traveled the state deposing neurosurgeons, lined up evidence, and put the defense in a position where they had to settle. I resolved the case for $1 million more than the previous dog bite record in South Carolina.”
Advice for prospective clients
Mark doesn't take on legal challenges blindly. He knows how much time and effort is required to meet a challenge, and he tries to convey this to prospective clients. “Justice doesn't come overnight,” he often tells them. Nevertheless, he encourages prospective clients to trust the process.
Trust, Mark believes, is a big part of choosing an attorney. Mark recommends that prospective clients trust their gut when meeting with a lawyer they're considering hiring.
“Within the first 5 minutes of meeting an attorney, your gut instinct should be able to guide your decision making. If mutual trust is developed early on, the process will be far more enjoyable for all involved. Trust is the key to any relationship.”
Once a prospective client has hired an attorney, there are some things they can do to prepare for their initial attorney-client meeting. Mark recommends compiling every document the client has related to their case.
“A story of what happened is great, but evidence to support your claims is even better. It shows that the client cares about their case and that their lawyer should too.”
In those rare moments when Mark isn't working, he can be found outside with his family.
Mark is the proud father of 2 little girls, and there's nothing he'd rather be doing than teaching them how to fish.
“If I wasn't a lawyer, I'd probably be a part-time fishing guide.”
On behalf of future clients everywhere, we're glad Mark chose to wade into the law instead of the water.
Get to know more about Mark Chappell Jr.
Q. What is your most memorable moment as a practicing attorney?
A. I had an opportunity to try my first case alongside my dad, who has been practicing for 35 years. We hammered the defense so hard after the first 2 days that they were begging us to settle the case on the 3rd day of a 5-day trial.
Q. What's the biggest misconception about personal injury attorneys?
A. That we're all a bunch of TV advertising, money hungry, ambulance chasers. Of all the lawyers across the country, less than 2 percent fall into the aforementioned description. I am none of the above. I chose this for my career because I care about my clients and want justice for them.
Q. What is your role in the attorney-client relationship?
A. My role in the attorney-client relationship is to educate, inform and help my clients reach a reasonable and just decision on their case. It is their case, not mine.
Q. What is your favorite part of the city or town where you work?
A. The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, and there's always some Gamecock sporting event to attend.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional attorney (from books, television or movies)?
A. Michael Ross from Suits.
Q. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
A. If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to fly as free as a bird. It would allow me to see the world from a different perspective and cut down on travel time.