After three decades practicing law, veteran attorney David R. Jones is preparing for a brand-new role as president of the Madison County Bar Association.
Jones, 59, has run his own firm in Madison County since 2008, with a majority of his practice focused on personal injury cases like railroad, barge and vehicle accidents.
In a recent interview, Jones said he decided to be a lawyer - on a whim - when he was 25.
“I decided to take the LSAT. I never studied for it. I was good at tests,” he said. “I had no idea what I was getting into.”
Jones graduated with a bachelor's degree from Washington University in 1976. He earned a master’s degree in health care along with his law degree from St. Louis University in 1982. Jones was accepted into Washington University's graduate program but said he chose SLU as a lower-cost option.
When a potential law student asked Jones which school someone should attend, the long-time attorney said he recommends choosing the cheapest law school with accreditation.
While in law school, Jones worked as a clerk in Belleville attorney Bruce Cook’s East St. Louis office. After graduation, he was hired by the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office. Jones later spent five years handling depositions and motions for Walker & Williams, a law firm that defends railroads, municipalities and also focuses on construction litigation.
Jones went on to work for the late Paul Pratt of East Alton, who appears on the “100 Best Plaintiff’s Lawyer’s web site.” He says Pratt gave him a number of cases and then told him to go to West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
“Go try them,” Pratt told him. “That’s what we did,” Jones said.
“That’s how you learn to practice law, when you try cases,” he explained.
Jones has tried cases in federal and state courts in Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.
He works with clients who have been injured working on railroads or barges. He describes the work in those industries as "extremely dangerous."
Jones said the industries have inherent issues that cause workers problems. They do not offer workers’ compensation, he explained. He said the railroad and barge industries also fail to treat injured employees with respect.
“Once these guys get hurt, they’ve got a target on their backs,” Jones said. “If you testify for an injured worker in the barge industry, you are blackballed. You won’t find employment.”
Going through court proceedings can be very difficult for his clients, the personal injury attorney said, because a plaintiff’s life has usually been upended. He says a lawsuit, however, is often a person's only way to settle a dispute.
Jones has three children, ages 29, 25 and 22. He has lived in Edwardsville for 23 years. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, fishing and reading history.
He will assume duties as president of the Madison County Bar Association on June 1.