Coming face-to-face with the victim of a tragedy can have a profound impact on a person’s worldview—and the trajectory of their career. That was certainly the case with Rhine Law Firm, P.C.’s new “of counsel” attorney, M. Reid Acree, Jr.
Today, Mr. Acree is a passionate advocate for victims, representing them in personal injury claims, Social Security disability, and workers’ compensation claims including those for asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other cancers. His cases take him all over North Carolina and even into South Carolina. But, his legal career didn’t start out on such an altruistic path.
Reid Acree, Jr., originally heard the calling of a legal vocation while still in high school, but first earned his B.A. in Economics from Wake Forest University, graduating cum laude in 1982. Mr. Acree worked in banking and sales for four years before returning to Wake Forest, where he achieved his Juris Doctor in 1989. Mr. Acree embarked on his law career by working as a defense lawyer, representing insurance companies and corporations in workers’ compensation and employment claims. While his current legal practice concentrates on representing plaintiffs, he acknowledges that he learned a lot by working for the other side. “The training was good for my legal career, but I grew tired of doing insurance defense.”
A Watershed Moment
Reid’s epiphany occurred while he was defending an insurer in a workers’ compensation case, in which the plaintiff would likely lose his leg as the result of botched hernia surgery. The man had filed a claim for total disability, valued at $165,000. As a representative of the workers’ compensation insurer, Mr. Acree negotiated the settlement down to just $55,000. It was then that fate intervened. By chance, before the mediation, Reid found himself sharing an elevator with the plaintiff and his son. Reid extended greetings to the boy, and as he recalls, “The father spoke to his son and said, ‘Son, when someone speaks to you, look them in the eye and shake their hand.’ My heart melted. I thought I can’t represent insurance companies anymore.”
A Change in Focus
After the incident, Mr. Acree didn’t abandon his legal aspirations; he switched teams and came to work for the good guys. In Reid’s own words, “I felt that I needed to make a real difference in people’s lives, and I made a commitment to protect the rights of those who have not always gotten a ‘fair shake’ in life, and to stop working for insurance companies.”
Today, M. Reid Acree, Jr., is one of the few United States attorneys designated as a “board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law”—one of less than 150 so recognized by the North Carolina State Bar. We at the Wilmington office of Rhine Law Firm, P.C. are thrilled to have a lawyer as compassionate, skilled, and experienced as Reid joining our team.
If you have any questions regarding personal injury, workers’ compensation, asbestos-disease claims, or Social Security disability, anywhere in North Carolina—or even South Carolina—please call (910) 501-2474 for a free consultation.