story by Kelly Harley photos by Shelia Scott
Is bigger really better? According to personal injury attorney, Derek Horne, the answer is no. In August of 2017, Horne opened The Horne Law Firm in Pooler, a personal injury firm that’s truly personal. “We choose to limit the number of clients we represent because this model allows us to address opportunities unique to each case and truly cater to the individual needs of our clients. Some clients need that, and we’d rather do too much, than care too little,” says Horne.
Prior to opening his own law firm, Horne spent several years as the managing attorney of a large state-wide personal injury firm based in Savannah. While he appreciates the experience he gained supervising more than a dozen attorneys, he realized that a volume-based personal injury model wasn’t his style. After serious reflection and prayer, he decided to pursue an alternative route, one that has offered him a different way to practice personal injury. “At a larger firm, things can get overlooked and missed,” says Horne. “There is pressure not to go to court and you don’t always get to know your clients.”
Getting to know his clients is one of the promises he makes. “I meet with every client who comes through my door. We flush out the details of what happened, their history and the particulars of the injury claim,” says Horne. “I really like to have a personal connection and all the facts when I determine where the client wants to go and what they need.”
Horne’s practice areas include serious injury and wrongful death, motor vehicle accidents, traumatic brain injuries, premise liability cases, and more. If Horne represents you, there’s one thing you can be sure of. “I create a detailed and customized strategy for each client. I also have the time and willingness to go to court. If insurance companies think you aren’t willing to go to court on a case, they have no fear,” says Horne. He says he approaches each case from a litigation posture. While he says sometimes going to court isn’t appropriate, Horne and his staff use their preparation and willingness to go to court as leverage in settlement negotiations. “Litigation is another tool in my toolkit,” adds Horne.
Another tool is the personal touch his firm uses. “I get to know each client, and let them get comfortable with me as well,” says Horne. “I talk to my clients frequently and they have my cell phone number and my paralegal’s cell phone number.” Many of his clients are still his friends today. One client, in particular, is an advocate for Horne’s work. She received $400,000 after she was in a motorcycle accident. She invested her money in a dump truck business. “It’s really a great feeling seeing my clients succeed in life and having a personal relationship that continues beyond the case,” says Horne.
As passionate as Horne is about advocating for his clients, he is also passionate about the community in which he lives and works. Horne recently launched the Bridgebuilder Program, a program that offers honorariums to minority youth who work to improve relations between law enforcement and their communities. Through the initiative, youth and police officers come together and have a conversation about the tensions between minority communities and police. “The goal is that each party walk away with a better understanding and ways they can improve relationships and essentially build a bridge,” says Horne.
Horne also has a passion for public policy and prior to his personal injury law career, Horne was heavily involved in advocating for and influencing public policy. He served as Vice-Consul for Policy and Management in the Atlanta British Consulate, attorney-advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as a legislative correspondent to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. He is particularly proud of his work on the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and legal research he performed that helped in the restoration of voting rights to non-violent felons who had completed their sentences.
Throughout his years of work and experience, Horne has shown a passion for serving. As a personal injury attorney, his service is dedicated to helping those who come to him seeking legal advice and financial help in times of crisis. “I know there is a real opportunity to help people if you actually care,” says Horne.
Horne is a graduate of Tulane Law School and a member of the American Bar Association, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice.