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John McCabe On Why NCAJ Members Pay It Forward
Episode 117th February 2022 • Voices of NCAJ • North Carolina Advocates for Justice
00:00:00 00:36:06

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In the first season of Voices of NCAJ, join host Amber Nimocks as she spotlights the people who make NCAJ great. Starting with NCAJ President and Principal Attorney of the Law Offices of John McCabe, P.A., John McCabe.

Becoming a lawyer was something John has wanted since he was just eight years old. However, his journey to where he is today didn’t start as a slam dunk. His initial introduction to the legal profession as a defense attorney didn’t resonate. It wasn’t until John began working as a plaintiff’s attorney that his career path clicked.

“I [thought], This is what I need to be doing. I felt comfortable getting into a case on the ground level and getting to know people. [Representing] people (rather than insurance companies) was a big deal for me.” The shift allowed John to feel like he was making a difference.

This episode reviews how John’s mentors have impacted his career, why he is so passionate about the NCAJ NEXT Leadership Program and recaps his experiences as president of the NCAJ. 

“Imagine being lead counsel on a case where you have 2,000 clients who are sophisticated, opinionated, who know the law, and who know the facts of the case and tell you how to try your case,” John says when describing what it’s like to lead the NCAJ. “The good news is, you're not the sole counsel on the case. You have a lot of really good co-counsel. I have a lot of really good people around me. I have a spectacular executive committee with people who I trust and value.”

🎙️ Featured Guest 🎙️

Name: John McCabe

What he does: John is the principal attorney of the Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. in Cary, North Carolina. He is a graduate of Campbell University Law School and has practiced as a plaintiff's attorney since 1995. He is an active member of the American Association for Justice, and is currently president of NCAJ. John devotes a considerable amount of his time to teaching legal concepts and advocacy skills to other attorneys and law students. 

Company: The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A.

Words of wisdom: “It's the story of the people that leads to change. It's not some lawyer’s magic doing. It's not some lawyer’s magic words, it's the people behind it.”

Connect: LinkedIn


🗝️ Key Points 🗝️

Top takeaways from this episode

★    You have to mentor the next generation. The advice and guidance that John received early on in his career from more experienced lawyers was incredibly impactful to his own development as an attorney. Now that he has reached that same experience level as his mentors, he hopes to give back and support the next generation of lawyers.

★    Client stories matter. It was the case of Kellie Crabtree early on in John’s career that had a monumental impact on everyone who filed lawsuits after her. John worked with the NCAJ to increase the damage claims limit in the state from $150,000 to $500,000.

★    There’s great power in joining forces with like-minded lawyers. Members of the NCAJ can band together and support one another because they represent individuals who are up against large entities such as insurance companies. NCAJ members share a common cause — fighting for the little guy.


💡 Episode Highlights 💡

[03:41] Deciding not to be a defense attorney: John reviews the many things that made him decide against pursuing a career as a defense attorney including the billable hours, thankless insurance companies and politics of working for a big firm.

[05:52] Joining the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers: John explains that the academy (today known as the NCAJ) had a mythical appeal to it because of all the great lawyers who were members. The connections he’s made over the years have been crucial for his career development.

[08:20] The biggest gift to his career: John talks about how having access to experienced lawyers through the NCAJ who gave freely of their time to answer his questions was one of the biggest gifts he received early on in his career.

[12:02] Paving the way for future generations: When John was a young lawyer there wasn’t a formalized program to help advance those early in their careers. The NCAJ NEXT Leadership Program is a formal training opportunity to ensure new lawyers get the mentorship and support they need to succeed.

[15:42] The case that changed the law: John revisits one of the most impactful cases of his career — Crabtree v. The State of NC 2004. The case even caused the North Carolina General Assembly to update the State Tort Claims Act. John shares how NCAJ supported him throughout the case.

[23:07] Finding a common goal: John shares how it’s a shared interest and a common foe that brings together the members of the NCAJ.

[26:06] On leading the NCAJ: John gives insight into what it has been like to lead the NCAJ over the past years, including the challenges and the triumphs he has experienced in the role.

[27:57] It’s a tough time to be a lawyer: John gives reasons why it’s been an especially tough few years to be a lawyer, including the political divisiveness, stress, and uncertainty from the pandemic.


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Voices of NCAJ features intimate and inspiring conversations with organization members in celebration of its 60th anniversary.

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