Who Is Darl Champion?
I grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My mom worked for the civil service at Fort Bragg army base for about thirty-seven years, and my dad was a college professor. He taught at the local college there in Fayetteville. I graduated from high school, I went to public schools, and then went to a small college called Methodist College which is located in Fayetteville. And that’s where my dad teaches and still teaches to this day. Went to law school at Mercer which is in Macon, Georgia. And then after that I did a two-year clerkship with a federal judge in the middle district of Georgia.
Following my clerkship, I moved to Atlanta and I’ve been here ever since. One of the things I like about Atlanta is the variety of things to do, the variety of people, the diversity, there’s something here for everyone. So there’s professional sports, there’s college sports, there’s museums, there’s concerts, there’s a variety of types of restaurants, there’s people from all over the world, people from all over the country here. And so it’s got something for everybody and I really enjoy that about Atlanta, and that was one of the things that kind of reminds me a little bit of the small town I grew up in North Carolina because it was near an army base, so there’s a lot of diversity, there’s a lot of different types of restaurants, and so I really enjoy the mix of that here in Atlanta.
There was never a time in my life where a light bulb went off and I said, “aha! I want to be an attorney.” But it was sort of a natural progression from my interests in terms of what I like to read and what I like to learn, and kind of what my personality was. I’ve always liked rooting for the underdog, I’ve always liked fighting for people, I’ve always liked helping people. And so the law seemed like a natural fit where I could kind of combine my interests and the things that I was interested in from an education perspective as well as to fit my personality and what I liked to do, and what I really really liked to do. And one of the best parts about my job is I get to come to work everyday and help people.
So when people call me, they’ve got a problem and the problem needs to be solved. Whatever type of situation they’re in involving a personal injury, whether it’s medical malpractice or a products liability case, maybe they got injured on somebody’s property, maybe they were injured in a car accident, we’re able to take their case to make sure that they get better not only personally but that they’re able to get a good result on their case. A successful scenario for me is taking a case where it’s difficult, maybe the insurance company or the large corporation, whatever it is, has denied that they’re responsible for the wrongdoing, or maybe they’ve denied that our client is hurt, or their injuries were caused by this incident. Being able to take that case and dig into it, you know, work it up, do a really good job, find witnesses, you know, get the documents, find that smoking gun and show the other side that they need to pay, that they’re responsible, and holding them accountable, that to me is a successful result.
It isn’t always about the money, and it’s hard to measure a success by the money because you could have a case that maybe is worth three million dollars, getting a one million result sounds great, but it’s really undervaluing the case, so you can never look at just the dollar figure and say “hey, that’s a successful result.” You have to really dig in and look at all the facts of the case and say “what was the result on that case and was it good for those facts.” And what we try to do is we don’t want to have a single case here where the result is less than full value, by even a penny, we want to get not only the most that’s available, we want to get more than what would be considered a good result. So we really strive to do that, and a lot of times we do fight longer and harder than a lot of other law firms do, and so that does require patience sometimes by clients to understand that process.
Certainly if our clients just want to take a quick settlement and want to take whatever the other side’s offering, we’ll do that. If that’s what the client wants. But we really like it when the client gives us the opportunity to go the distance and to fight for them and get them a really great result. It’s hard to say that there is really a hard part about the job, because I love every aspect of what we do. I mean, from meeting with clients and interacting with them, to filing lawsuits and reviewing documents, I love doing, I love getting into a case and finding the smoking guns that show the defendant’s responsible, or finding witnesses, talking to witnesses. It’s hard to say that anything is a hard part when I really love every aspect of what we do. And again that’s whether it’s taking the case at the beginning and meeting with the client to whether it’s arguing a case in the appellate court. Everything is just really really enjoyable to me and I love it.
The Plaintiff has the burden of proof, so the Plaintiff has to gather the evidence so that they can prove the case in court, and that can sometimes allow for a lot of creativity. It could be creativity in how you get that evidence, how you track down witnesses, the types of questions you need to ask in depositions, the strategy involved in that. Sometimes it’s creativity in coming up with legal theories. Maybe our client has a case and it looks like it doesn’t fit nicely within a particular type of claim, but we can be creative and try to create new law, that’s one of the things that we’re not afraid to do here. If we feel like there’s an opportunity where the law is not clear but we can create new law on the case, we’ll take that case and fight it all the way to the appellate courts if we have to.
After law school, I spent two years clerking for a federal judge which was one of the best experiences of my life. I got to spend two years watching a lot of trials, watching a lot of hearings, reviewing a lot of briefs and motions that attorneys file, drafting opinions for the judge on those. And that was very enjoyable and I learned a lot from that perspective of how the courts view things and also how juries view things from watching a lot of trials. After that clerkship, I spent a little bit of time on the defense side. I always knew I wanted to be a personal injury attorney and represent people that were hurt, but I thought, “Well I’ll try the defense thing for a little while, maybe get some experience.” And after about the first two days, I recognized that was not for me, I didn’t even think I was going to make it a year. And so about six months into that job, I had a great opportunity come up to work with an experienced personal injury law firm, and I took that opportunity and worked there for a little over four years, where I really learned a lot, had a lot of great opportunities to learn about a variety of different types of cases.
My wife, her name is Julia, she’s a native of Costa Rica, we met in North Carolina when I was in college and got married in 2004. We have one daughter, her name is Elizabeth and she was born in 2012. We have a son that we are expecting this November in 2017.
For fun, there’s a lot of things to do in Atlanta. So having a kid and with one on the way, going to the zoo is great, going to the aquarium, taking her to a variety of different types of activities that she likes. Love watching sports, I have a lot of family from western Pennsylvania so we’re big Steelers fans. So I love watching Steelers games, love going to Steelers games, trying to go to Pittsburgh to see those. Love going to Braves baseball games, love watching college sports, anything really sports related I’m really into.