This Solo Practitioner Is Making a Name For Herself as a Legal Rising Star 8/5/16 08/05/16 10:09:28 AM
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After feeling powerless as a teenager, Karen Hicks fights, in court, for those who can’t fight for themselves.
– Photo by Lorraine Boyd
This Solo Practitioner Is Making a Name
For Herself as a Legal Rising Star
By Elizabeth Elliott
The Daily Record
Sometimes in our lives we have an experience that shapes what we will do as a career down the road.
For Karen Hicks, an Omaha attorney, it was having her rights violated as a teenager in South Omaha.
She was walking up the street from her friend’s house to her home when she was stopped by police, questioned, photographed and told she was going to be placed on a gang file. Hicks said she felt her rights were violated but didn’t know how to fight back, what her rights were or how to protect herself.
“I want to help people learn their rights and fight the right way to protect their rights,” she said. “This is more important than ever in the current climate of the world and the ever-growing distrust for police and authority figures.”
Hicks is a solo practitioner at Hicks Law, P.C., LLO. She specializes in juvenile law, criminal defense, family law and personal injury. She has also done limited work in estates and landlord tenant issues.
One of the biggest surprises Hicks has found since becoming an attorney is the camaraderie among the attorneys.
“I thought people would be more out for themselves and kind of cut-throat,” she said. “But, when I started my firm everyone was so nice and helpful. I was really grateful. I’ve made a lot of new friends who have been there for me on more than one occasion.”
Hicks believes this comes partially from the fact that she has no problem admitting when she does not know something, especially if she’s never done it before. She said everyone she has reached out to has been extremely open to answering any of her questions and simply being there as a support. She found this very encouraging.
When she first started her practice, she remembers being frustrated and stating to another “seasoned” attorney that she just couldn’t wait until she knew it all. The other attorney advised her that she would never know it all, but that she would just become more comfortable with the fact that she does not know it all. This, Hicks stated is refreshing, especially when she has to learn something new on pretty much a weekly basis.
Hicks said one challenge professionally is figuring out what to do in everyday law practice. She said law school doesn’t help an attorney counsel their client who is depressed or upset. While law school teaches how to research the legal issues of the law, Hicks said, “It doesn’t tell you how to handle your client calling you at 1:30 a.m. because their soon-to-be ex has done something awful.”
Hicks said she feels you just learn as you go how to handle these types of issues. Hearing of colleagues’ experience and stories of dealing with clients can help you get through the week.
This is true in trying to learn new areas of law. She said branching out into a different area, such as criminal law, is a whole new world.
“I constantly have to find another attorney to ask what do I do with this case when I can’t find the answer on my own.” Or even when she does, but wants to make sure the answer she came up with is correct or better yet convincing.
“It’s about figuring out all of the different things that law school doesn’t teach you about practicing law,” she said.
Nevertheless, Hicks said she is enjoying the learning process and meeting new colleagues and friends. She said she loves when she can give her clients good news on their cases and when she can help them close a certain chapter in their lives and move forward.
Hicks said she feels her most important achievement in her career has been maintaining an office for three years on her own. Part of her business is court appointments, with whom, for the most part, she will probably never work again.
Hicks said that “a handful of court-appointed clients, when they are done with their own cases, have referred their friends or family to my office to help them with their legal issues. I feel like that is a stamp of approval of my services and legal representation.”
She stated the same is true on the rare occasions when she has represented her family and friends. When they are satisfied with the end result of their cases, Hicks said she feels like she must be doing something right.
Karen said she believes everyone is entitled to competent legal services, so she regularly provides pro bono legal services to the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer Project.
Hicks graduated magna cum laude from College of Saint Mary in 2000 with a B.S. in Paralegal Studies. She was their 2000 Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate (Non-Traditional). After working as a paralegal for more than 10 years, she graduated from Creighton Law School in 2012.
While in law school, she served as president of both the Black Law Student Association and Creighton Law Partners, and was a member of the Latino Law Student Association.
She was also vice justice of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity; Negotiations Competition Finalist; American Bar Association - Student Member; and CALI Award winner for Student Excellence for Defense of Criminal Cases.
She is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, the Omaha Bar Association, the Midlands Bar Association, the Nebraska Women’s Bar Association, the Omaha Law League, the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals, and Leadership Omaha 38.
She has also volunteered at Monroe Middle School as a mentor since starting her office, as well as for a year at College of Saint Mary.
Hicks took the Iowa bar exam in 2012 and, in 2013, waived into Nebraska’s bar. She started her law firm in March 2013. Hicks is the mother of a 21-year old son, who graduated from Central High School the same year Hicks graduated from law school. He continues to live in Omaha.
Her mother, Barbara Hicks-Karasek, and most of her family still live in South Omaha in the Zoo/Rosenblatt area. She has five brothers. She enjoys spending time with her oldest brother, Marvin, and his two young children, who are five and seven, in South Omaha.
For more information, Hicks Law, P.C., LLO is located at 1941 S. 42nd Street, Suite 507 in the Center Mall. She can be reached at 402-932-9027.