Sally Culley has been practicing law for more than 15 years. In that time, she has represented employers in both the public and private sector, defending them against claims of discrimination, wage and hour violations, whistle-blower violations, wrongful termination, harassment, and retaliation. Here, Sally answers a few questions about her practice and reveals a little bit about family life.
Sally, a part of your practice is focused on labor and employment litigation. Can you tell us what drew you to this field of law?
Like a lot of lawyers, I am logical and detail-oriented. I enjoy analyzing a case and coming up with a strategy for handling the case to meet my client’s goals. And throughout the pendency of the case, ongoing strategic decisions have to be made in order to keep the case moving forward in accordance with those goals. How to structure a motion, brief, argument, or deposition are just some of those decisions. I also really enjoy attending hearings and making arguments before the court.
Employment law is especially satisfying. I enjoy the client interaction and the fact that at the heart of almost every employment case is an interesting story, which may shift and change depending on who I’m talking to. I love the challenge of putting the story together, piece by piece, so that I can most effectively present that story in court. I also like to work with clients to provide pre-litigation advice that may keep them out of court later.
What kind of advice can you give businesses to help them avoid litigation?
The most important and most obvious – but often overlooked step is to have a well-written employee manual that covers the issues that businesses may face. A well-written manual can reduce the number of employee claims. Letting employees know what is expected of them and making sure they are well trained are the best investments an employer can make.
Businesses sometimes also avoid involving an attorney early on and that can really cause problems down the road. Using a lawyer to help draft contracts and provide early advice about possible issues or concerns can help an employer avoid future headaches and can save the employer money over the long haul.
What is your philosophy for maintaining client relations?
Communication is key, as is diligence in responding quickly and effectively to questions from clients.
How do you approach working with new attorneys?
I enjoy mentoring young associates in the firm, seeing things from their perspective and helping them to develop their practice. It’s fun to teach them how and, more importantly, why I do certain things, and to see a light bulb go off. Generally, I advise them to work with as many experienced attorneys as they can, doing various kinds of work, so that when they eventually have their own cases and clients, they will be able to fall back on a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Tell us a little bit about what you do outside the office. Any hobbies?
Time outside the office is focused on my most important role as wife and mother to three children. My weekends are spent watching soccer, football, karate, play rehearsal, piano recitals, etc. Family life is really the center of everything that I do, and I am so excited to see how my kids grow up and what wonderful, exciting things they are going to do. I also teach Sunday School classes for three- and four-year-olds, which is something that I absolutely love to do, because the children are just so cute and they keep me in stitches.
A favorite pastime is reading, primarily fiction – mystery and action. I always have a book going, and it’s almost always something light and entertaining. Agatha Christie is my all-time favorite author and Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. Recently I’ve been reading books by Lee Child, Harlan Coben, and Sophie Kinsella.