W. Cravens Priest III
Chair, Employment and School Law Practice Group
It is fair to say that law runs in the family for Cravens Priest. His father, Whayne Priest, was one of ELPO’s founding partners. His brother, Park Priest, works at the firm as well. “Choosing law was a natural progression for me,” Cravens said. “I saw the respect that people had for my father and his work, and I knew that I wanted to feel that way about my work. I also thought it would challenge me, and it has, and always will.”
Cravens works primarily in the areas of employment law, school law and workers’ compensation law. While the three areas overlap, they are just different enough to challenge him. Cravens stays on top of the law in each area, and researches the latest changes of the law and how it affects his clients. “You constantly have to study the law because it is always evolving,” Cravens said. “That is why it is referred to as practicing law.”
Workers’ compensation law changes more frequently than the other types of law Cravens practices. Workers’ compensation proceedings are controlled by statutes and regulations established by the state legislature and are affected by state courts’ interpretation of the statutes and regulations. As a result, the law changes often. “The changes are far more frequent than any other type of law I practice,” Cravens said. “The statutes and regulations are very detailed. There are specific factors and formulas that you have to know how to apply to the facts of each case. A minor adjustment in the statutes and regulations can drastically affect your clients’ interests and can spawn a great deal of case law.”
The law in the employment area changes more with federal legislation and litigation. Cravens has followed employment law as it changed and transformed since he began practicing in 1992. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been particularly interesting to watch, as the definition of who qualifies as an individual with a disability under the Act has changed drastically throughout Cravens’ practice. Employment cases can be brought in state or federal court, venues in which Cravens enjoys working.
“I like the fact that my work involves advising clients in addition to representing clients in litigation,” Cravens said. “We do a lot of counseling with our clients in the employment and school areas to keep them out of litigation. Workers’ compensation is primarily litigation, so I am comfortable in a private meeting giving advice or in a courtroom representing my client.”
Cravens said he would have chosen to work at ELPO regardless of whether his father or brother worked there. He believes that ELPO sets high standards for work in order to provide the best representation for their clients. Cravens focuses on meeting those standards every day. “Anything that leaves our office has to be the best that it can be for our clients,” Cravens said. “You cannot do the job halfway. It is our attention to detail that separates us from others and provides our clients the best representation.”