Anna Hamrick, Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Anna Hamrick, a board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law who practices in Asheville. Anna began her education as an English major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, later completing her law degree at George Washington University. Following law school, Anna worked in a small general practice firm handling a variety of legal issues. She also practiced in a real property firm before moving into a firm handling mostly medical malpractice cases, working with attorney Ike Northup. This led to a natural interest and progression toward workers’ compensation law.
Anna currently serves as the State Bar councilor for the 40th Judicial District (Buncombe County). She has long-standing volunteer commitments in her community, including the Junior League of Asheville and Pisgah Legal Services. Anna achieved her board certification in 2019 and currently practices with Grimes Teich Anderson LLP as a partner, focusing on both workers’ compensation and social security disability cases.
Q: Tell me about your interest/motivation to become a board certified specialist.
I was initially encouraged by my law partner, Henry Teich, to look into becoming board certified. I really appreciated his encouragement to do this as I think it has improved my legal knowledge and made me a better advocate for my clients. Studying for the exam was a good exercise in reviewing the statute, rules, and case law.
Q: Do you have any advice for newer lawyers considering focusing their practice on workers’ compensation?
If you are considering focusing on workers’ compensation, I would encourage you to attend CLEs geared toward the specialty. The NC Advocates for Justice just held their 26th Annual Workplace Torts & Workers’ Comp Seminar in December. The NCBA puts on its Workers’ Compensation Section’s Annual Meeting and spring CLE program in Greensboro in February. The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently held its 24th Annual NC Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference this past October.
I would also encourage you to connect with lawyers who are experienced in comp and try to look for mentor/mentee relationships you can grow. I have always found it helpful to reach out to more experienced lawyers for advice on situations. The listserves associated with the NCBA and the NC Advocates for Justice are other great resources. Try to build your network of comp attorneys around the state. I should also say that I would not limit it to those who only do plaintiff work if that is what you do, or only do defense work if that is what you do. I think it is a great resource to have friends on the other side of the law you practice. You can represent your client zealously while also having good relationships with opposing counsel.
Q: What do you enjoy about the practice of workers’ compensation law?
I really enjoy meeting with a client for the first time to discuss the case. This often gives us both the opportunity to clarify what they can and cannot potentially expect to receive under the Comp Act. I am sometimes the bearer of bad news (such as there is no recovery for pain and suffering under the Comp Act), but whether or not the person retains us, I appreciate the opportunity to tell them certain things they need to do to protect their interests, and to try to help manage expectations. Even if the person is not happy to hear what I have to say, I think they generally like learning about how the system works so they can have some measure of what to expect going forward.
Q: Tell me about the best part of living and/or practicing law in the western part of the state.
My father was from Rutherfordton, my husband is from Boone, and I really love this part of the state. We moved to Asheville in the mid-1990s, and it has really changed over these past years. I enjoy the beautiful scenery and the wonderful people. I also like traveling to other towns in western NC to meet with clients and have hearings. The lawyers who practice comp law here are also great people with whom to work. The plaintiff bar is a wonderful resource to bounce ideas off of and talk about cases, and the defense attorneys represent their clients well, but we are able to get along and do our jobs. Interestingly, several bigger firms have opened offices in Asheville over the past several years, many of whom have comp practices.
Q: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I will only eat chocolate with an 85% or higher cocoa concentration. Also, I feel like I was born at a time where I had the chance to see the end of a past world. For example, the babysitter I had when I was little was an older lady who lived on a farm. The house in which she lived and cared for us did not have indoor plumbing, but rather an outhouse and a chamber pot. She loved to sit on her front porch with us to watch the cars go by. Can you imagine getting a child to do that today for entertainment? Although, I have to say it was not very entertaining, even then. The farmhouse she lived in is still there, but it has been totally remodeled, and all of the farmland has been sold and is now a development in Chapel Hill called Southern Village.
Q: What’s your most rewarding professional activity?
I would have to say being the State Bar councilor for my district. Previous to me, Howard Gum held the position, and he told me it would be a very rewarding experience. It really has been. I have had the opportunity to meet great people all around the state, as well as within the State Bar. I have learned a lot, and I hope to have been and continue to be of some use to my fellow lawyers in Buncombe County in this capacity.
Q: Where did you grow up and what were your favorite childhood activities?
I was born and raised in Chapel Hill. As a kid I was on the local summer league and YMCA swim teams. Back in the 1970s I spent a lot of time hanging out in the neighborhood and around Morgan Creek.
Q: What would you say to encourage anyone who might be thinking about applying to become board certified?
I would strongly urge you to do it! I think you will be glad you did. I made three-ring binders to use for studying. I printed off the statutes and put them in one, the rules in another, and tried to include cases from recent CLE case reviews in the third. I also used a program I learned about from my kids called Quizlet. You can input the info you want to study on your computer, and then download the app and it creates quizzes so you can sit there on your phone at the dentist office or wherever to see how well you have learned the material. This was very helpful. I hadn’t studied for a test in so long, I really had forgotten how.
For more information on board certification for lawyers, visit us online at nclawspecialists.gov.