NCAJ Hero Profile: Roderick Allison
Roderick Allison graduated valedictorian of his class at North Carolina Central University, “probably because I made my professors laugh,” he jokes.
It’s doubtful that Allison’s sense of humor influenced his undergraduate academic performance, but it does permeate so many other aspects of his life. Allison is the sort of guy who sees humor in every situation. So much so, that he’s been doing stand-up comedy for 22 years, as long as he’s been practicing law. During a recent NCAJ Zoom social hour where Allison was the featured entertainment, he made fun of everything from childbirth to the bar exam.
On why it’s good that women bear children rather than men: “I told my children, ‘Be thankful for your mom. I don’t love you that much.’ ”
On homeschooling during the pandemic: “After I got involved in my daughter’s homeschooling, her sixth-grade teacher is not just holding her back, they’re trying to locate my sixth-grade teacher. They want me to repeat sixth grade, too.”
On wondering how he passed the bar exam: “I’m still looking for the person who graded my bar exam. I owe them because I don’t think it was supposed to go this way. Am I the only one?”
Allison passed the bar after he earned his law degree at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He practiced as in-house counsel for a non-profit for a few years before founding his own firm in 2003. Allison focuses his practice on personal injury, traffic, non-profit/church law and wills and powers of attorney.
A native of Kannapolis, he lives in Creedmoor. His wife Kimberly Allison is a middle school math teacher. He has two children: Christofferson Allison, 25, and Kristin Allison, 11.
Allison answered a few questions for our Hero profile.
Early in your career you worked as in-house counsel. Why did you decide to establish your own firm and become a plaintiff’s lawyer?
I worked as in-house counsel for a non–profit organization, and it was a rewarding experience. However, since the age of 6 I knew I wanted to become a lawyer and one day establish my own firm. I love my independence and the ability to freely select which cases I choose to handle. I always knew I wanted to be on the plaintiff side, as I love assisting the “underdog” in their pursuit of justice.
Is there a case that stands out as particularly memorable, one that made you feel proud to practice law?
Back when I first opened my firm, I handled a very minor personal injury case for an elderly and very poor client. Though it was a small case, I treated it like a million–dollar case. To my surprise, I was able to obtain a very favorable result. When we handed her the check, she cried tears of joy and thanked me repeatedly for treating her, as well as her case, with dignity and respect. Needless to say, that incredible feeling of helping someone that really needed it was something I have never forgotten.
Was there a someone in your life who inspired you to pursue a career in the law?
My late father, Thomas E. Allison, was my greatest inspiration. He was born poor and had to help my grandmother pick cotton to provide for his 11 siblings. Though he was highly intelligent, he never had the opportunity to attend college. Once I determined I wanted to one day become a lawyer, he did everything in his power to make sure I was able to achieve my goal and take advantage of the opportunities he was never afforded. He will forever be my greatest inspiration.
In addition to your legal career, you are also a comedian, motivational speaker and you play the trumpet. Why was it important to you to keep these pursuits going while you face the very demanding tasks of managing your own law practice?
With all the stress that comes with the legal profession, comedy and music have allowed me to have outlets that help keep me balanced. I’ve performed music mostly all of my life and I’ve been performing comedy professionally since I became a lawyer in 1998. In addition to the added benefit of getting paid for both my comedy and music (lol), they have afforded me the opportunity to live a more well-rounded life.
What advice would you give a lawyer who just passed the bar this year?
Stay balanced! The legal profession can be tough and time consuming, but you must be intentional in maintaining the proper balance between your profession and your family, personal goals and overall wellness.
How does your membership in NCAJ make you a better lawyer or support your practice of the law?
NCAJ has consistently provided me with valuable resources, especially given the fact that I’m a sole practitioner. The NCAJ listservs alone are worth the membership fee, but the connections with other plaintiff’s lawyers from across the state are priceless.