Like Father, Like Son

Rocky Wilkins credits his dad with teaching him the ways of law

Published in 2009 Mid-South Rising Stars — December 2009

As a child, Rocky Wilkins would often tag along with his father, renowned criminal defense lawyer Sam Wilkins, to the courtroom in Jackson. “Out of all my kids, he’s the one that followed me around,” says the senior Wilkins, 72. “He watched me try cases as a young man.”

A quarter century later, Rocky joined the Pritchard Law Firm, where his father had worked 35 years prior. “Everything came full circle,” says the junior Wilkins, 37, who’s won several seven-figure settlements for clients injured in 18-wheeler accidents.

He launched his own firm in 2003. Wilkins’s largest jury verdict came last April, when he won $2.5 million for an elderly woman who was beaten outside a grocery store. The case is now on appeal.

“I always knew I’d rather work to help out people as opposed to corporations,” he says. “People come to you at a very bad time in their life. Sometimes they just need somebody to be their friend and talk to them.”

His biggest loss turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “I was lead trial counsel in the second and third Baycol [products liability] cases in the nation,” Wilkins says. “Those resulted in defense verdicts. But it put my name on the map as someone who was not scared to take on a huge corporation.

And he’s even had the opportunity to try cases with his father. In October 2006, they handled State of Mississippi v. Michael Bridges. “It was a sad case,” Wilkins says. “A young girl was shot and killed outside a notoriously dangerous nightclub in Jackson. My client pled not guilty, and after a week-long jury trial, was acquitted of all charges.

“There’s nothing like trying a lawsuit with your father.”

Wilkins pauses, and then adds, “I always defer to my dad. He’s forgotten more law than I will ever know.”

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