Attorney of the Month – James C. Worthington, Sr.
Written by Jim Worthington on January 10, 2016
James C. Worthington, Sr.
Keeping Up to Speed with Changing Legal Environments
By Dan Baldwin
James C. Worthington, Sr., Sole Proprietor of Worthington Law Firm, says the laws and regulations governing wills, trusts, estate planning, and business succession are often in a state of change and an able attorney must keep up, adapt to and act according to those changes to best meet the changing needs of his or her clients.
He cites, for example, the new version of the Uniform Trust Code in Kentucky which significantly changed trust law within just the last two years. Kentucky in 2014 adopted a version of the Uniform Trust Code which leaves a lot of matters the same, but it makes some significant changes and puts a lot more power in the district court to handle matters. The new version also introduces a non-judicial settlement agreement that allows parties to modify trusts without going to court much more easily than they used to be able to do.
Worthington says, “It also changes the rules pretty significantly in what rights beneficiaries have to question the trustee when a trust ends. This is something I’ve spent a lot of time keeping current on and have made it a strong point in my practice. I am keeping up to speed on all these changes because my clients need to make sound decisions guided by someone who is up-to-date on the latest changes in the laws that so dramatically affect their lives.”
His state of preparedness is such that other attorneys often seek his advice and cooperation. “I’m available to help other lawyers with their tricky and complicated estates,” he says.
Although wills, trusts, estate planning, and business succession are his primary practice areas, Worthington says he just “stepped into” those areas. “I was working at a small law firm in Durham, North Carolina and these areas were a need the firm had and I found that I enjoyed it. I have a mechanical engineering background and so the numbers don’t bother me; I enjoy working with numbers. I also find that whereas very few people leave litigation happy, when you can help plan for someone’s future – for that someone’s family’s future – and then when the family sees the advantage of the planning we’ve done, it’s very satisfying.”
Knowledge, Dependability and Attention to Detail Govern the Practice
“My dad had his own business; an air conditioning sales and service company primarily working with commercial clients, contractors, and directly with larger firms, such as grocery stores. He always said that his hallmark was knowledge, dependability and attention to detail. I think the same thing. I’m proud to be following in his footsteps.”
Worthington worked in his father’s business for a couple of years before entering law school. He was vice president of the company, providing on-going customer service for new and existing accounts.
The connection between that commercial business experience and his legal business is a commitment to service. He says, “I kind of always wanted to do it because I saw the satisfaction my dad got when he went out on his own. It’s kind of neat to walk in every morning to know that you’re counting on yourself. That’s where that knowledge, dependability and attention to detail pays off. There are similarities in that he was in the service business and I am also in a service business.”
Worthington graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and earned his Juris Doctor in 1992 from Duke University of Law. His bar admissions are to the State of North Carolina (1992) and the State of Kentucky (2000). He is an ACTEC Fellow and the Chair-Elect of the Kentucky Bar Association Probate Section. He is also on the board of the National Association of Workforce Boards, an interest he developed as a long-time board member and eventually chair of Kentuckiana Works, the local Workforce Investment Board.
Worthington’s wife, Annalee Cato Worthington, grew up in Kentucky, and is the daughter of Walter L. Cato, Jr., a well-liked member of the Louisville Bar. He worked for Stites & Harbison, PLLC and then made a move to Stockyards Bank and Trust Co. In 2010 he decided the time was right to go out on his own.
“My philosophy is to provide clients with the level of sophistication they’d receive in a bigger firm by using my experience and the technology that is available to sole practitioners now to deliver a level of service you’d only have expected from a larger firm in previous years. The way I look at it, I get paid to help people get through some of the biggest, and, often, most emotional experiences of their lives. There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in that,” he says.
Worthington Law Firm serves clients primarily in Louisville, Jefferson County, and the surrounding counties.
He plans to grow his firm, but at a pace that allows him to provide the same level of service to each client that he now provides. Plans for the near future are to hire a paralegal to help handle estate planning and estate-related matters.
Life Outside of the Office
Worthington was born in Montgomery, AL and grew up in Tampa, FL. He met his wife, Annalee Cato Worthington, in 1994 and they were married in 1996. They have two children: James, age 16, and Clarissa, age 13.
He enjoys family travel and as much fishing and hunting as time allows, but life is mostly focused on the kids. He has recently taken an interest in cycling to try and get some family exercise time.
Worthington Law Firm
First Trust Centre Suite 610
North 200 S. Fifth St.
Louisville, KY 40202