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 A Tribute To Jay Reeves

by Will Graebe |

Jay Reeves has left the building. There will likely be no encores from Jay—at least for North Carolina lawyers. He has followed his personal legend and moved to South Carolina to write the baseball novel that has been stirring in him for years. The good citizens of Newberry will be lucky to have Jay. But we at Lawyers Mutual, as well as Jay’s followers, will sorely miss him. He has been an inspiration to so many of us over the years. 

If I have ever known a renaissance lawyer, Jay is it. He has been a legal editor, private practice lawyer, risk manager, DJ, purveyor of vinyl records and coffee, brilliant writer, humorist, speaker, and wellness coach. But those are just jobs and titles. They do not define who Jay is. Jay is humble, kind, loyal, authentic, giving, encouraging, funny, and insightful. 

I first met Jay back in 1998 when I joined Lawyers Mutual as a claims attorney. Jay was the Risk Manager and was known by lawyers around the state as the Risk Man. Jay was the person in the office who made everyone, with the possible exception of John Beard, feel a little bit better about themselves. While he understood the serious nature of the service that we provided to our insured lawyers, he always made sure that we had fun. I’m pretty sure there is still a framed picture in the office of our Board of Directors with thumbnail sized faces of different employees glued onto the faces of various Board members. 

Jay left Lawyers Mutual in 2000 to represent lawyers in professional licensing, disciplinary and malpractice cases. He then nearly put Starbucks out of business when he opened a coffee and vinyl records shop in Carrboro and Pocatello, Idaho. In his next incarnation, Jay started Your Law Life, LLC. As part of his work with Your Law Life, Jay provided entertaining and thought-provoking content to Lawyers Mutual’s insureds. Jay educated our insureds about everything from cyber risks to malpractice traps. He entertained readers with stories of baseball, music, dogs, and any other subject that offered a teaching moment.

I will remember Jay best for our lunch meetings at Panera Bread at the Streets at Southpoint. We sat for hours talking about work, life, family, spirituality and whatever else came into our stream of consciousness. Jay encouraged me. He listened to me. He made me laugh. He made me think deeply about the “big” questions. He taught me the quality of humility by his example. He was a mentor to me.

We all need a lawyer in our life who is a Jay Reeves. We need someone to remind us that being humble is as important as being right. We need a lawyer who shows us that listening is far more important than talking. We need a lawyer who marches to the beat of her own drum so that we can remember to live our own truth. We need a lawyer to show us that giving of ourselves is far more valuable than receiving. And finally, we need a lawyer who can make us laugh sometimes. Lawyerin’ ain’t easy. 

Jay, thank you for your continuing example and your service to Lawyers Mutual and the legal profession. I’ll be keeping an eye on the New York Times Bestseller List for your novel. It’s going to be great!


About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

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