Ajamie attorney John S. Edwards, Jr. discusses his career path, work in commercial litigation and a pro bono case that lasted five years involving a landlord and tenant dispute.
Firm: Ajamie LLP
Practice Areas: Antitrust, Contracts, Copyright, First Amendment, Fraud, Insurance Coverage, Landlord-tenant, Preemption, Product Liability, Trade Secrets, Toxic Tort, and Wrongful Death
Law School: J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 2003
Undergraduate: B.A., Princeton University, 1998, Economics
Quotable, on professional satisfaction: "I was gratified that I was able to help my client, not only by obtaining a judgment in her favor but also by actually putting money in her pocket. It was also fun going after the bad guys – I was determined not to let them get away with fraud. And the experience I gained was invaluable."
Lawdragon: Let’s start out with a general overview of your practice. How do you describe to recruits or family what it is you do?
John S. Edwards: I represent companies and individuals in complex commercial cases. Many involve fraud and conspiracy claims, and are in highly technical industries, such as telecommunications, manufacturing, oil and gas, and software. Others involve unique procedural or jurisdictional questions such as forum non conveniens, anti-suit injunctions, and personal jurisdiction.
LD: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done as a lawyer?
JE: I had a pro bono case that lasted five years. My client was a widowed tenant whose landlord had wrongfully evicted her and then sued her allegedly damaging the property. If the landlord had prevailed on all of its claims, the damages (including attorney fees) could have easily reached six figures, likely bankrupting her. Her first lawyer took the last of her life savings and then disappeared.
I got involved at the last minute, obtained a continuance for more discovery, and filed a counterclaim for wrongful eviction and other claims. The case went to trial, and after two days, the jury awarded my client over $55,000 in damages.
We sought to enforce the judgment by filing an abstract of judgment and having a receiver appointed, but found that the landlord had fraudulently transferred all of its assets to a related company. We then filed a fraudulent-transfer lawsuit, which eventually included four companies and a pair of brothers as defendants. On the eve of trial in this second lawsuit, the defendants agreed to settle by paying 100% of the original judgment.
I was gratified that I was able to help my client, not only by obtaining a judgment in her favor but also by actually putting money in her pocket. It was also fun going after the bad guys – I was determined not to let them get away with fraud. And the experience I gained was invaluable.
Finally, I was honored to receive several awards for my work on this case, including the 2013 Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Award.
LD: Tell us about your career path. Did you start at your current firm? If so, what kept you there? If not, what persuaded you to join your current firm?
JE: I started at a large international large firm. The people were great and the cases were interesting, but it was hard to get experience. I later joined a litigation boutique where the experience was much better but the cases were less interesting. I joined Ajamie LLP in 2011 because it offered me the opportunity to gain experience while working on sophisticated cases.