Interview with Attorney Dennis M. Slate
Why did you become a lawyer?
My mom put herself through law school via night classes while I was in high school. I used to help her in her office after school and on weekends. It always seemed like such important work that she was doing, and people were always so appreciative for her help. I look up to my Mom and it always seemed like a natural path for me to follow her lead.
What sets your firm apart from the rest?
We are truly able to provide a very high quality of legal service that is not usually found outside of downtown Houston, and we are able to provide it much more affordably because of our lower overhead. I am also available to my clients all hours of the day and weekends.
Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
The Miller case. My clients had their children taken from them by CPS. They were accused of horribly injuring their children, which almost cost the mother, a teacher, her job. I was able to prove the injuries were the result of a medical condition the children had inherited, and show the court that CPS had acted improperly. CPS was ordered to return the children and pay a sanction of over $30,000.
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
If the case allows ample time to prepare, then I like to make sure my case is overwhelming. I have often times told potential clients that they are not ready to file when they come to visit me the first time. We then make a plan for how to go about getting the evidence needed to make sure they are not going to be wasting money on a case they cannot prove. For example, we might need to gather school records, income information, witness affidavits, medical reports, or criminal records.
What advice do you most often give to your clients?
Be patient and do not be afraid to ask questions. Oftentimes, clients are alarmed at how slow the pace of litigation can seem to them. They are living with the case every day and expect there to be updates on their case daily. Occasionally I will have a client that feels this frustration come to me and tell me that they just want the case over. They do not care the outcome anymore, just please finish the case.
This always alarms me because just getting a case over is almost never in my clients best interest. Getting them what they deserve is a preferable outcome of the case. If the other side is not also ready to get it over, we would have to give up a lot in order to get them to agree to get it over early in the process. We are really good at representing our clients, we just need our clients to allow us to work completely for them.
What is your role in the attorney-client relationship?
It is my job to prepare my client's case to be absolutely ready for trial. There are a lot of good outcomes that can be realized when a case is ready for trial and the other side knows it. There is no positive outcome when a lawyer is pressed to trial and has not spent their time preparing over the life of the case. I never settle a case because I have to; I only recommend settling when I think we are close to getting what we should get from our judge in court.
Tell us about a turning point in your career:
I practiced and learned from my Mom for 6 years. When she left to take a job with the Attorney General's Office, I lost my security blanket and have had to really learn not only the intricacies of practicing law, but also the nuts and bolts of running a business as well. My firm has experienced tremendous growth since 2006. I have been offered positions at large downtown firms, but because of my learning experiences and my vision for the firm, I do not want to compromise what I have built here by merging with another firm and their philosophies.
How long have you been practicing law?
I was licensed in May of 2001, and have been practicing law ever since.
Why should a prospective client work with you?
I provide very high quality representation at a fraction of the costs of the downtown Houston law firms. My firm can go toe to toe with anyone in our area, and we are always prepared to do so on behalf of our clients. I am available to my clients at all times of the day or night, and personally return calls and emails. Our clients are paying us to provide a service, and I believe in making sure everyone at my firm provide the best service available.