Attorney: Josh Valentine
Firm: Caulder & Valentine
Location: Shelby, NC
Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, DWI, Traffic, Expungements, Family Law, Personal Injury, Wills
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Attorney Josh Valentine in the Spotlight…
Sometimes clients are surprised when they meet North Carolina attorney Josh Valentine. As Valentine describes it, “I don’t have a lot of grey hair, so people come into my office and say ‘you’ve got a lot of good reviews online, but you sure do look young.'”
And Valentine is young. At 24, he’s already been a lawyer for nearly two years. He graduated from college at 20 and started law school the same day he graduated. He completed his law degree in just two years.
Valentine and his law partner, Blake Caulder, launched Caulder & Valentine when they were fresh out of law school. The firm focuses on criminal defense, expungements, and family law. For Valentine, being a lawyer is as much a calling as a career.
A passion for the law
Valentine traces his passion for law to his childhood. His parents were involved in a difficult and drawn-out custody battle in his early years. Later, when Valentine’s mother sought a divorce from her second husband, Valentine said she was “at a significant disadvantage” because she couldn’t afford to hire competent counsel.
An experience at school further contributed to his desire to practice law. The Christian school Valentine attended became the target of a Department of Social Services (DSS) investigation, which eventually led to the filing of a successful lawsuit against the DSS. He said that experience showed him “the power that the government had and how they can abuse that power.”
Valentine says of those experiences: “It sparked a desire in me to go to law school, not for the money, but to help people, especially those without a lot of money or the resources to get the most expensive attorney around.”
Providing hope and comfort
Growing up, Valentine also witnessed friends and family members bearing the burden of false criminal accusations and the stress of months- or years-long legal proceedings. He saw that attorneys provided “vital support” during those difficult times. That’s why Valentine says he strives to provide hope, comfort, and encouragement to his clients in addition to legal representation. Valentine also offers this kind of emotional support to non-clients through his work in the prison ministry.
A visit to the prison in Morganton, North Carolina through his prison ministry work affected him deeply. Most of the inmates there are under 18, and they are serving life or other very long sentences. Valentine said:
“The first time I walked into that facility, I was probably 22. These young kids were in there for rape, murder or robbery, and it brought tears to my eyes thinking how my life could have been different. The reality is, that could be me if I had grown up in their situation. Knowing that I’m not better than any one of them is humbling. It has really taught me to be more grateful and to do even more to help the clients I have.”
“Clearing records and restoring lives”
As difficult as it can be for a person to go through a criminal proceeding, the challenges may not end there. Even after a charge is dismissed or someone has served their time in jail, their criminal record can easily come back to haunt them. That’s why expungement is a major focus of Valentine’s practice.
As Valentine describes it, “Often times, potential employers or potential landlords don’t know how to read a criminal record. You could have the opportunity of a lifetime go down the tubes simply because a potential employer misunderstood the outcome of charges on your criminal record.”
Expungements help people move on with their lives without a criminal record hanging over them. As Valentine puts it, after a criminal record is expunged, “essentially it’s as if it never happened.” He calls this the work of “clearing records and restoring lives.”
Advice for new law firms
It is often challenging to launch a new law practice, particularly for attorneys that are just out of law school. Valentine attributes his firm’s growth to hard work, caring about the firm’s clients, using the right tools, and continuous learning.
Valentine says that he and his partner don’t see their practice as a 9-5 job. “We get in the office early in the morning, and usually don’t get home till late at night. But we enjoy what we do and we enjoy helping people.”
Show clients that you care
Valentine says many clients and other inmates have told him that they were in jail for months without a single visit from their attorneys. As Valentine says, “That’s really troubling to me because, if I was in their shoes, I’d want my attorney there. I’d want to feel like they cared about me.” He tries to visit his clients in jail the day he gets a case. Likewise, he says that simply “returning calls in a timely fashion works wonders because so many attorneys don’t.”
Choose the right tools
In addition to the firm’s hard work, and the care and attention they strive to give each client, Valentine attributes a “great deal” of his firm’s growth to their website.
Even before he finished law school, Valentine had started researching law firm website companies. He found the LawLytics blog and says he was impressed by how transparent LawLytics was in sharing the “secret to having a successful online presence.”
After hiring a series of freelance web designers who delivered poorly-functioning websites that weren’t optimized for use on mobile devices, Valentine knew they needed a better website. Caulder & Valentine switched to the LawLytics platform.
Valentine says: “LawLytics is perfect for those that are not savvy with coding and web design, like most attorneys are not. But it made it simple enough for us to add our own content. When LawLytics built our website, it turned out first-class. I also loved the fact that we could get a website makeover every two years. And our website was so clean, we got so many compliments on it right away. People say all the time ‘who did your website?'”
Valentine says content is an important part of Caulder & Valentine’s online presence for two reasons:
“First, a well-written article on a specific area of the law is extremely helpful to potential clients who are looking for answers to their problems. People whose questions are specifically addressed when looking at our website are much more likely to retain our services to help them. Second, fresh in-depth content published on a consistent basis is essential to obtaining optimization and recognition in any online market.”
Building a successful practice doesn’t happen overnight. Law school doesn’t prepare lawyers for the local nuances of how each county or each district attorney operates. Those things are learned through the experience of actually practicing law. As Valentine says:
“I think that’s why it’s called practicing law because it’s a continual learning process. You don’t wake up one day and find you’re suddenly a great attorney. My partner and I, we believe that it is diligent, dedicated, persistent, and consistent work that will ultimately pay off. And it already has in just two years of practice.”