In part one of our interview with Forrest Firm attorney Jamie Lisa Forbes of our Greensboro office, she walked us through her life’s journey. She spoke about growing up on a Wyoming ranch, living the ranching life, and how that life impacted her family, pushed her to seek a career in the law, and inspired her to write award-winning stories.
In part two of our interview with a colleague who has lived many professional lives, we focus on Jamie’s legal career and what’s coming next.
FF: How are being a lawyer and a fiction writer similar to you?
JLF: “They are similar. Your work has to be organized, structured, and well-written to succeed, whether you’re looking to be published as a writer or win positive outcomes for your clients. This similarity really applies to litigation. Pleadings and briefs have to be organized and well-written, just like a creative work. In the law, I want the body of my work to be structured so that it has an impact. Being successful as a writer is more about having both structure and timing, drawing a reader into your world, and picking the right moments in the story to leave them hanging, wanting more. Practicing law and trying cases is more linear. I find comfort in both.”
FF: What do you most enjoy about being a lawyer?
“I also really enjoy how the knowledge we gain when practicing in different areas can come in handy when we are trying to solve problems for clients. I started doing a lot of family law in 2011—divorce and custody cases, as well as court-appointed work in juvenile court. I also started doing a lot of tax work with Tom Worth, and I really enjoyed that, too. I’ve learned so much from him.”
“One of my greatest successes as a lawyer came from working with Tom, and my family law and tax law experience came together in a particular case. Our immigrant client ran a local nail shop, and the Internal Revenue Service came in and interviewed her contract workers, incorrectly determining that they were employees, rather than independent contractors. We discovered that the Service had interviewed the workers in English, instead of their native languages, which, since 2001, constitutes discrimination based on nationality. I had learned about this law in my family law practice, and while fighting the IRS’s findings, I raised this issue and got the audit results overturned for our client.”
FF: Do you have anything else in the works?
JLF: “Yes, I’m still writing. Each work serves a purpose. The beauty of writing my first novel about Wyoming was about going back and living that life again in my head from here in North Carolina. It was the end for me, the closure of going back west. The second book was a collection of short stories about the West some of which were new works, while others had been written years ago.”
“My first novel was a family drama about ranching and the daily nuts and bolts of ranching. Writing about the West after that wasn’t as much about the place, as much as telling the characters’ stories, although they are Western characters. Now I am writing about North Carolina, where I think I have learned the culture, although it’s not native to me. I was attracted to writing about the rural parts of the state because of my comfort zone is in a more sparsely populated area. In particular, I was attracted to imagining what rural North Carolina was sixty years ago. When I first visited Greensboro in 1976, it looked much more like “Mayberry” then what it looks like today.”
At the Forrest Firm, we take pride in the achievements of our attorneys, both in the legal arena and in their outside pursuits. In our ranks, we boast published writers, entrepreneurs, angel investors, and even a competitive fly fisherman. The diversity of our experiences makes us stronger and able to relate better to our clients as we practice law together as a firm. We salute Jamie Lisa Forbes for her excellence in both of the careers she’s chosen since leaving her Wyoming ranch 25 years ago. And we look forward to reading her next achievement in fiction.