LILLINGTON, N.C. — When Thomas West and Reggie Kelly opened their law firm doors in October 1982, they conducted most of their business in person, by phone, and by mail.
Thirty-five years later, not much has changed — at least in their attitudes. The law firm, which offers help with personal injury, traffic, estate planning, and more in Lee and Harnett counties, still relies on that personal touch, which has earned them a positive reputation among clients and community members.
The firm celebrates its 35th anniversary in October. The milestone isn’t something the partners were considering when they began.
“We were just getting started, just hoping to be here and make the business grow,” said Thomas West. “We weren’t focused on the years down the road, just on providing a good service to people.”
The law firm has grown to include Thomas West’s daughter, Elizabeth Murphy, and a team of 12 staff. While the law firm has a website with a chat function now, the partners say their “old-fashioned” efforts to communicate personally with clients is what sets them apart.
“We weren’t trying to make money. We wanted to be good lawyers. We wanted to take care of people the way we would want to be helped after an accident or during stressful times,” said Reggie Kelly. “We relate to our clients because we know we’re not immune to the same problems everyone faces in life, and we just want to help.”
Things may not have changed with Kelly and West themselves, but the pair has seen drastic differences in 35 years in the profession. When they graduated law school, advertising was considered unethical. Technology, of course, has changed things, but in most cases has made it easier for them to work. But the law has changed, too, West said.
“Jury attitudes have certainly changed. A jury used to feel sorry for someone who got hurt; now they wonder if someone is trying to get something for nothing,” he said. “The law has less sympathy for the injured and more for insurance companies.”
Kelly and West now work fewer hours per week but aren’t ready for retirement just yet. The pair says what’s truly amazing is that they’ve stayed a team for 35 years, a milestone many firms don’t achieve. They attribute their success, in part, to their complementary skill sets.
“Many firms split over fights about money, but we never focused on individuals,” West said. “There’s a quote in the Bible1 that two or three can do so much more than one on his own. There’s a lot of truth in that. Reggie and I, our talents complemented each other. And want to thank God and thank the many amazing employees who have helped along the way.”
About Kelly & West
Kelly & West is a law firm in Lillington, N.C. The team has handled more than 20,000 cases, helping people in the areas of personal injury, workers’ compensation, real estate, estate planning, elder law, DWI, and traffic. The family law firm focuses on putting the client first — and putting their experience to work. Learn more at kelly-west.com.
1. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 New International Version (NIV)
Oliver and Sherrie M. – Car Accident
“We were hit head-on by someone who run a red light. I got bruised up real bad inside and I had just had shoulder surgery and it inflamed that. My wife was hurt the worst. It disfigured her right arm. We were referred to Mr. West through our son-in-law so we went up and set an appointment with him. We went in and met him for the first time and he is a very nice gentleman to say the least. He took over the case and found out who the [driver] was. It had totaled the car and I had just gotten it paid off. They didn’t even get hurt. Mr. West took the case and went way out of his way to help. The lady who hit us … they had only the cheapest insurance to get the car on the road … so he helped us get more money to help us pay the bills. We are very happy with how it turned out. Kelly and West, they’re good people. You can talk to them and they’re down home people.”