OKC attorneys share passion for profession despite different styles
Oklahoma County prosecutor Adam Kallsnick and defense attorneys Kent Bridge and David Slane have traveled different roads, but protecting their clients tops the list of priorities
There's nothing abstract about my job. I shake their hands and look in the eyes of the family members I help.”
“An old lawyer told me, ‘Never be afraid to reinvent yourself,' so I agreed to start talking to the media,” he said. “Maybe it would be good for business.”
Four years ago, Slane's wife, Susan, 38, died suddenly, leaving him to raise their two boys alone.
“I went through a life transformation when my wife died,” he said. “I thought about quitting all together … because I had to be mom and dad.”
Business has never been better for the Oklahoma City native, who is paid as much as $400 an hour for his services.
“I have a passion for what I do,” Slane said. “I like the law because I get to help people.”
While Slane comes across as polished, criminal defense attorney Kent Bridge wears long hair and suits that need pressing.
Even his ties are wrinkled.
Bridge, 42, of Edmond, prefers to let his work do the talking.
Before leaving the Oklahoma County public defender's office in January to go into private practice with his wife, Bridge put together an impressive winning streak.
During a four-month period, Bridge tried five murder trials and finished with three acquittals and two hung juries.
“At the end of the day, what I'm really good at is being in trial,” he said. “It's the biggest reason I'm a criminal attorney, because the criminal practice is where people actually go to trial.”
But the workload — 300 cases a year — was getting to be too much.
“It felt like it was all the same … like Groundhog Day,” Bridge said.
“It was like I got up and talked to the same 10 people in front of the same two judges and did it over and over.”
The pace has slowed considerably since Bridge left the public defender's office, where he said he felt like an emergency room surgeon.
“What I do now is like being a doctor in real practice, where things are slower and more organized,” he said.
Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Lavenue recently tried a sexual abuse case against a man represented by Bridge and called him a consummate professional.
“He's one of the most honorable defense attorneys I know,” she said.
What hasn't changed for Bridge since leaving the public defender's office is the satisfaction he gets from making a difference in the lives of people he represents.
“There's nothing abstract about my job,” he said. “I shake their hands and look in the eyes of the family members I help.
“I see them, I get Christmas cards from them, I visit them. I know who they are and that means a lot to me.”
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