NC Workers' Compensation Lawyer - Jay Gervasi
Noted Greensboro Workers' Compensation Attorney Jay Gervasi joins Law Talk with Bill Powers to discuss the practice of law.
Voiceover: You're listening to Law Talk with Bill Powers, your resource for answers to your most pressing legal questions. Attorney Bill Powers sits down with some of today's leading legal minds, to discuss everything from legal issues and legislation to practice tips and policy. Now, here's your host, an NBTA board certified criminal law specialist, former president of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and renowned trial lawyer, Bill Powers.
Bill Powers: Hello, it's 2020 and we've begun recording our latest series of podcast conversations on Law Talk with Bill Powers. As usual our goal is to provide a background look on the practice of law, legal issues, and developing legal trends in North Carolina. Whether you're a lawyer, a law student, judge or someone who just wants to know more about the laws of North Carolina or the public policies regarding developing trends in the law. So, we hope this series is both interesting and entertaining. Today I'm joined with a true leader in the law in North Carolina, Jay Gervasi. Good afternoon, Jay.
Jay Gervasi: Good afternoon, Bill.
Bill Powers: Thank you so much for taking your time to speak with us. Jay is a practicing attorney with three decades or more, 30 years or more of experience in the practice of law. His office is in Guilford County, is that right?
Jay Gervasi: Yes sir.
Bill Powers: Greensboro, and his background is actually workers' compensation and I'll let you correct me on any of this, but it sounds like you started in the insurance defense world.
Jay Gervasi: That's correct.
Bill Powers: And worked in the corporate world for a while and I would like to hear a little bit at some point about how you made that transition because for lawyers it's more difficult than you would imagine. You are, like I said, a board-certified specialist in workers' compensation by North Carolina State Bar, graduated with pretty impressive resume, curriculum vitae from Duke University and this is, I circled this one to ask you about this, because you don't see many zoology majors anymore. And worked as a medical research technician, which I have to think would help you understand some things about the... I don't know, the causality of accidents and things like that. Went to Vanderbilt University of School of Law, and did really well there, and then jumped the fence in 1990 and you've been practicing law in Guilford County basically since then. Did I get it right?
Jay Gervasi: That's correct.
Bill Powers: Well, let's kind of start there. I actually at one time was a biology major myself at NC State so I took my share of science courses, including zoology. Tell me how that came to be that you get a degree and how do you transition from that to law?
Jay Gervasi: Well when I went to college, I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau, a marine biologist. I realized lab science wasn't really for me, but I did spend a semester at the marine lab in 1979 and actually when I was there, there was a course that was taught by a guy who was at the time director of the lab and also mayor of Beaufort. And he would bring in people who represented parts of the community that were affected by marine issues.
Jay Gervasi: One of the guys he brought in was this environmental lawyer. And I'd been toying around with the idea of possibly going to medical school and I sort of liked what I saw there, and I started thinking about law school. Ended up, by the time I graduated in 1980, I realized I was going to go to law school. I took a few years off because I didn't want to go to 17th grade or whatever, too many years in a year, and worked at Duke doing medical research in vivo spectrophotometry. You get to spend time in hyperbaric chambers, that kind of stuff. And then went to law school in '83.
Jay Gervasi: I think that you mentioned the background, probably does help. workers' comp is a medical heavy type of practice. We have professional fact finders, the deputy commissioners and commissioners in the industrial commission hear the cases. So you're not talking about 12 folks in the jury who have been pulled in from varying parts of life and may be in the trial of one case in their lives. So you get to do things medically, you get to go places, but you really can't do it in a jury trial because it's too complicated, and too difficult to help folks understand who don't have that day-to-day exposure to complicated medical issues.
Jay Gervasi: And I don't know if it's more a matter of experience with that stuff or aptitude that led me to that in the first place but it does give me a little bit of an advantage at times in some of the medical depositions where things get complicated, it helps me to have that background. But I still love the biological sciences stuff, when I'm messing around on my own or down at the beach or something like that, I love it, but it wasn't a way for me to make a living. So ended up going the law way instead. I don't know if you ended up with the same process or something else happened but that's...
Jay Gervasi: And of course, when I went to law school, everybody when they get to law school thinks they're going to do something and then they completely change their minds while they're there. So I was going to do corporate litigation and maybe some patents and that sort of thing, some intellectual property law because of my scientific background. Kind of went out the window, when I got out I started insurance defense work for a company about four years, and then went to the plaintiff side.