Story By Wil Crews
Photos By Robert Noles
Local attorney Trip Walton III is a fighter. Not in the traditional sense — at least, anymore. But in the field of law.
“My approach is that I’m just a regular guy,” Walton said. “It wasn’t about the money when I first started [practicing law], it was about helping people.”
Walton, 65, has a deep-rooted family connection to legal practice. His father was an attorney; his grandfather was a judge; his uncle was a lawyer and senator; his sister is an attorney herself. He spent his undergrad at Auburn University before earning his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1984.
“I guess if they had all been brick masons, I’d be laying brick,” Walton said. “I did [law] mainly because they thought I couldn’t do it.”
Following graduation and after many years of practicing law with larger firms, Walton decided to build his own practice in 2001 — Walton Law Firm, P.C. The goal: to stand up and fight for those who cannot defend themselves.
“If you’re not into helping people, you might as well not do it,” Walton said. “We take our time; we meet the clients. We are going to do it the right way.”
While some practices will pick and choose which cases they take with an eye on the payout, Walton said it’s often the smaller cases that he most fondly reflects on.
“The ones where we help people be able to survive major injuries are probably the most rewarding,” he said. “Even just helping people through their daily problems and little criminal cases [are rewarding]. When someone gets arrested on a DUI, it’s big to them.”
Personal Injury Attorney Catherine Moncus, who has worked with Walton for 15 years, shares a similar sentiment. She expanded on the efforts she; Walton and the rest of the firm make for their clients.
“A lot of it is patience and communication skills,” she said. “You have got to be able to relate to the client, and a lot of times they just need someone to listen. I love what I do. I love helping people. That’s what we are here for.”
According to Marketing and Public Relations Manager Betty Burns, who has been with the law firm since 2010, the unique and personal way in which Walton and his firm interact with cases stretches into the workplace, too. In fact, Walton is so big on helping people that he built an in-office gym to encourage his employees to work on their physical and mental health.
“It can get stressful,” Burns said. “We try to keep it fun and light because sometimes we can deal with some really heavy stuff. And Trip is a big proponent of health, so he built that gym for all of us. It’s just a great place to work. We are really cohesive; we care about each other. For clients, sometimes going to a lawyer or attorney can be really intimidating, so to be able to come in our office and experience a relaxed, caring environment, I think it’s a sense of peace that comes over you, it’s like you’re going to be okay.”
In addition to his efforts to try and improve workplace morale, Walton and his firm are regularly involved in community outreach. The firm does a number of things such as volunteering at the food bank and working with community organizations like Opelika Kiwanis, The Boys and Girls Club, United Way, BigHouse Foundation and more.
“We live in the community that we work in, and it is so important to us that we do as much as we can actually serving the community in more ways than one,” Burns said. “Our whole brand is about helping people. Really being there out in the community builds that bond and trust. If we don’t know the community we work in, why are they going to come work with us?”
Over the course of his long and distinguished law career, Walton has earned a reputation in the personal injury, tractor trailer collision, traumatic brain injury and mediation arenas. He has spoken all across the country at professional conferences and tirelessly stood up to big insurance companies, winning multimillion-dollar settlements for his clients. Recently, Walton was named to the 2023 Best Lawyers List by usnews.com, the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed publication company in the legal profession.
Walton is rated AV Preeminent by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating Service, which means he has been rated by his peers as having the highest level of legal ability and ethical standards. He has also been selected yearly as an Alabama Super Lawyer, Top Attorneys in Alabama and 100 Top Trial Lawyers since 2011. In 2020, Walton joined the American Bar Association, joining a global honorary society of attorneys, judges, law faculty and legal scholars.
“We didn’t know what Super Lawyers was,” Walton said. “It’s supposed to be the top 5% of lawyers in the Southeast. Most of these groups are pretty exclusive, so those are nice.”
What many people do not know, however, is how Walton’s law practice is intertwined with fighting. No, not the scrappy, parking lot or bar-type scuffle. Nor the verbal courtroom fight he puts up for the interest of his clients. But the one-on-one, within the rules and ring, “padding on the gloves with a referee” kind of fighting.
That’s where the surprising intersection of combat sports and practicing law meets for Walton.
During college, Walton explored combat sports and enjoyed a successful amateur boxing career, going 20-1 and becoming known for his knockout punch (which earned him his first 18 victories).
“You have to have an aggressive nature for [boxing],” Walton said. “Which is good for being a trial lawyer. That’s why now we use [boxing] as a part of our marketing.”
Growing up in LaFayette, Alabama, Walton admired LaFayette native and Heavyweight World Boxing Champion Joe Lewis.
“We have a statue of him there now,” Walton said. “I had heard about my whole life a famous boxer who was born and raised 10 miles from house. So that was just why early on I was interested [in boxing].”
Walton’s boxing record includes the Auburn University and Southeastern Regional Intercollegiate titles in 1978, a win in the Georgia Golden Gloves Tournament in 1980 and the Alabama AAU Open-Class Heavyweight Championship in 1981. He concluded his boxing career in 1982 by winning the Alabama Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship.
“I was doing all that while I was in law school,” Walton said. “I was a natural at it. I guess it would be like people jumping out of airplanes … it was exciting. We had to shut it down because I always told my parents if I lost I would quit.”
Though long retired from his days in the ring, Walton is still fighting. He has carried the values he learned in the ring over to his law practice, into the courtroom. Some of those values include honor, dignity, pride, persistence and diligence. It’s those qualities that Walton said helped him win over $100 million in verdicts and settlements. Of all his cases, Walton’s “Granddaddy of Them All” was an insurance fraud case which resulted in a $17.5 million verdict.
“We have been very fortunate in that regard,” Walton said. “But that being said, none of that really matters. It helps those people, and hopefully we can help some more.”
Aside from his commendable law and boxing careers, Walton is by all accounts a down-to-earth, good person. In his down time, Walton enjoys working out and spending time with his dog, Coco. He is an Eagle Scout and even appears on a recurring television talk show on BEETV where he and co-host Kevin Dunn chat about everything from sports and current events to law. The show can be found on Youtube by searching the “Trip Walton Show”.
“It’s fun; we talk about everything from serious cases across the country to what we are doing,” Walton said. “It’s just sort of entertainment.”
Walton Law Firm, P.C., serves the counties of Lee, Chambers, Macon and Tallapoosa in Alabama and Troup and Harris Counties in Georgia. In the end, Walton’s practice is about more than just “winning” the next big case. It’s about putting your best foot forward and helping others. That’s what Walton Law Firm is all about.
“We don’t start the fight, we finish it,” Walton said. “It’s just another knockout punch.”