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Defending Life and Liberty: Navigating Criminal Law With Seth Morris

Defending Life and Liberty: Navigating Criminal Law With Seth Morris

June 19, 2024   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Seth Morris

Seth Morris

Seth Morris is the Co-founder of Liberty Law Group, which provides expert legal services in a variety of practice areas throughout Nebraska and Iowa. As a licensed attorney in Nebraska since 2015, Seth handles cases in both state and federal courts. He has been a life-changer for his clients, taking 58 cases to trial with remarkable success. With his background in agriculture and construction, Seth embodies the virtues of diligence and tenacity. A Great Plains Rising Star, he’s also a humble family man with a passion for hunting, fishing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [1:56] Seth Morris talks about the different jobs he had before becoming a lawyer
  • [3:26] Why Seth eventually decided to pursue a career in law
  • [4:35] Seth’s journey from law school to being the Co-founder of Liberty Law Group
  • [6:58] Preparing for trial as a new lawyer
  • [9:36] What sets Seth apart from other attorneys
  • [13:05] The founding story of Liberty Law Group and its vision for the legal landscape
  • [17:15] Seth’s advice for aspiring lawyers

In this episode…

What drives a person to pursue a career where the stakes are as high as life and liberty? The world of criminal defense is fraught with challenges yet immensely rewarding for those who choose this path. What motivates someone to take on the daunting task of defending individuals against the full weight of the justice system?

According to Seth Morris, a dedicated and experienced criminal defense attorney, the high stakes of criminal defense are what makes the field so compelling. He highlights the profound satisfaction of reuniting clients with their families after securing not-guilty verdicts, and the inability to give people their time back makes these victories even more significant. This commitment to defending clients’ freedoms against overwhelming odds fuels his passion for the law and drives his relentless pursuit of justice. The David versus Goliath dynamic in criminal defense cases offers both an exhilarating challenge and a profound sense of fulfillment.

In this episode of 15 Minutes, host Chad Franzen speaks with Seth Morris, Co-founder of Liberty Law Group, to discuss the intricacies of criminal law. They dive into Seth’s journey from rural Nebraska to a successful legal career, his approach to balancing his professional and personal life, and the invaluable lessons he’s learned along the way.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mentions:

Quotable Moments:

  • “I’m just a simple man from rural Nebraska. It’s cool to see that you’ve been able to accomplish things with a team and with your clients and get some big wins.”
  • “I just didn’t like the path that I was on. And I said, well, I’ve always had an interest in law, started studying, got in, and I really found it really interesting.”
  • “How do we tailor this discovery that can prepare you for all the wild stuff that happens in the real world?… you’re always learning on the fly.”
  • “I remember… in the middle of June and July, people are complaining [about studying], and I’m like, this is a heck of a lot better than being on a roof.”
  • “When I talk, the jury listens… I try to keep it simple. Focus on what really matters.”

Action Steps:

  1. Be flexible and embrace continuous learning in your field to adapt to new situations effectively: Emphasizing constant learning helps you stay ahead and become an effective advocate.
  2. Seek diverse experiences within your chosen profession to discover your interests and strengths: Having diverse experience is crucial as it helps refine your skills and tailor your career to your unique abilities.
  3. Embrace your background and use personal stories to build relatability with your clients or audience: Integrating your personal narrative can create trust and authenticity in a professional setting.
  4. Understand how to balance life by prioritizing and scheduling personal interests alongside your career: Disciplined scheduling is essential for a work-life balance and to achieve overall success and well-being.
  5. Be proactive about self-improvement and preparedness in all aspects of life: This can enhance confidence and security.

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. 

To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. 

To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know but likely don’t.

Chad Franzen  0:12 

Hi, Chad Franzen here, one of the hosts of Share Your Voice where we talk with top notch law firms and lawyers about what it takes to grow a successful law practice. This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, delivering tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI your firm needs to have a better website and better content. Gladiator Law Marketing uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com where you can schedule a free marketing consultation. My guest today is Seth Morris, a Co-founder of Liberty Law Group and a licensed attorney in both state and federal courts in Nebraska since 2015. With a background in agriculture and construction, Seth learn the values of hard work honesty and collaboration early on. He has represented over 850 clients in complex criminal and civil cases taking 58 cases to trial noteworthy achievements include securing acquittals and trials, ranging from murder charges to federal felonies, as well as significant plaintiff settlements, says dedication to his clients has earned him recognition as a Great Plains Rising Star awarded to only two and a half percent of attorneys. Outside of his legal career, Seth enjoys pursuits such as hunting, fishing, Brazilian Jujitsu, and spending time with his family. Hey, Seth, great to have you today. How are you?

Seth Morris  1:33 

Hey, I’m good. Thank you for having me.

Chad Franzen  1:35

Did I get everything right in that intro?

Seth Morris  1:38 

Yeah, it’s weird, you know, just hearing that read back to you. You know, I just think to myself, it’s just a simple man from rural Nebraska. And it’s cool to, you know, to like when you work through that and see that, you know, you’ve been able to accomplish things with with a team and and with your clients and get some big wins.

Chad Franzen  1:56 

As I mentioned, you kind of had a, you have a little bit of a background in agriculture and construction. Tell me about some of your jobs that you had prior to entering into the legal profession.

Seth Morris  2:08

Yeah, so my, my first jobs, were all just whatever work I could get on the local farms around me. Those were the first jobs that I had, you know, so I wouldn’t say that I lived on a farm. But if you’re listening to this, and you’re not from Nebraska, you know, my nearest neighbor was a half mile or a mile away. You know, you would say, yeah, you definitely grew up on a farm, right, you know, so we had your chickens, we’d get pigs in the summer, working in hog confinements, baling hay, working in cornfields, you know, anything that I could get my hands on to make some money I was down to do. And so you know, that I think it is a great thing for me, because it taught me the value of hard work. You know, I remember, in law school, people would be complaining about studying for this or that, and it’s like, Well, is it a heck of a lot better, like we’re studying for the bar in the summer, for instance, you know, it’s the middle of June and July, people are complaining, and I’m like, this is a heck of a lot better than being on a roof. That’s 120 degrees, you know, shingling, you know, for $8 an hour. And so it helps give me perspective to how blessed I am to be an attorney and in the position that I am.

Chad Franzen  3:16

So what what kind of motivated you to pursue, you know, law was not an easy career to pursue what what motivated you to pursue that, especially after your prior background?

Seth Morris  3:26 

Yeah, so I was in college, I was majoring in business. So I kind of always had an interest in law, it seemed like one of those things that was kind of unattainable, right. I didn’t know a lawyer to come from a family of lawyers. It seemed kind of like almost too lofty. But as I got into this internship, I didn’t like working at that business. At the time, I didn’t realize it was a culture problem. You know, in that business, I thought that was working for any business. And so I’m like, Well, I’m not just going to do this for the rest of my life. I’m going to take the LSAT and see what happens. I did pretty well got into to Nebraska Law, you know, got my couple more years of student football tickets, and the rest is history. So it wasn’t some grand plan where I was four years old and wanted to be a lawyer. I just didn’t like the path that I was on. And I said, Well, I’ve always had an interest started studying got in. And I really found it really interesting. Just to study and get through, because there’s just so many areas of gray, nothing is black and white. And it just really one of those things where I’m a naturally very curious person. And so it kind of suits my needs.

Chad Franzen  4:35 

So take me through kind of your, you know, you went to law school, tell me how you how you’ve kind of progressed from there.

Seth Morris  4:41 

Yeah, so I went to law school at the University of Nebraska. While I was there, I think I at the time, like I look back and all of these little decisions I didn’t know were significant. I really had been dividends and helped me in my practice now, but I would I was taking Any job that would pay me money, right, that’s been a theme of my life. And so, I worked for a lot of different firms. You know, I worked with attorneys that are now judges. And so through this experience, I mean, I’ve done, you know, through law school in the first few years, you know, I was doing anything from adoptions, to wills, to business stuff, to insurance, defense, criminal, criminal defense, I did all of these different things. And it helped me really find what I like to do and really tailor my practice to what is my skill set?

Chad Franzen  5:33 

Have you learned more? Did you learn more in law school or since law school?

Seth Morris  5:38 

You know, obviously, since law school, right, you learn a little you learn just enough to say, Yes, this is the rule. And then it’s actually how do you implement that? How do you be effective advocate for your clients? How do you get good results? All of that you don’t learn? Right? Even in your, you know, I took some litigation prep type classes while I was there. And yeah, this is, these are the discovery rules, but really getting into, you know, how do we tailor this discovery before, you know, that can prepare you for all the wild stuff that happens in the real world? You know, I mean, just so many crazy things can happen. And you’re always constantly in new situations with new people. And so you’re always learning on the fly. And I think it’s a huge advantage to be flexible, and just be a naturally curious person and wanting to understand why does this work this way? How does this work? What do I need to get an understanding of, in this case, to help my client?

Chad Franzen  6:37 

Take me back to your first your first experience as a trial attorney. And kind of like, what were you feeling? Were you intimidated by going up against a, a, you know, maybe a more experienced or more seasoned attorney? talking in front of a judge for the first time? Are you nervous? How are you feeling? And how did you feel after it was over?

Seth Morris  6:58 

So yeah, so my first hearing, I’ll never forget, I was a senior certified law student where in Nebraska, that means you can do with supervision, you can be there and participate. It was a motion to continue. And I’ve never been more prepared for anything in my life, right, like, paid dialogue and why this motion to to continue should be granted. And the judge just looked at me and was like, yeah, all we needed was, you know, this case is a month old, you know, continuing. So, you know, I’ve always put myself out there. But you know, my first trial was a felony trial. At that point, you know, I remember people after the fact that your first trial was a felony, blah, blah, and I’m like, I, I guess at that point, it was almost, ignorance is bliss. You know, I just went in there. I’m like, Hey, I have this route. Here’s how I think I can win this case. And, and I tried it is obviously intimidating, very nerve wracking. But the key that I’ve found is, if you put in the work, and you’re more prepared for the other side, you’re always going to put your client in the best position. So I just refuse to let myself be outworked by the other side and explore every possible angle that we can to get our clients a good outcome.

Chad Franzen  8:10 

Since that time, have you had a particular case or situation, the client or something like that it has had that has had kind of a profound impact on you whether it was successful or not?

Seth Morris  8:19 

Probably the most impactful moment. I mean, it’s always great when you hear not guilty, you get a walk out of there with your client. But the most impactful had a client whose face and 20 the life right before the trial, they offered him a sense of 15 to 20. And he was this close to taking it, right, because he knew if he was convicted on this, based on the allegations, he was probably going to jail for life. And I said, Look, I’m confident we’re going to win this. We do it through the probate process, because that’s, you know, we started COVID happened. So the trials kept getting continued because either a juror or whatever I mean, so he hadn’t seen his kids for this for over a year and a half. And so I gotta be there after he’s found not guilty. The no contact order is released, and I get to see his kids swarm him outside of the courthouse, and give him that big hug. And that I’ll never forget that moment because it felt so great that I was able to be just a small part of reuniting that family and helping him just take the 1000 pound anchor off of his back.

Chad Franzen  9:27

Nice, very nice. A, is there anything that you say kind of sets you apart or makes you different from from other attorneys?

Seth Morris  9:36 

Yeah, I think one of the advantages of having been raised in rural Nebraska and done all of these jobs. And you know, having gone to law school is I’m able to relate with I think, I believe anybody in Nebraska, and able to break things down. I kind of lean into my strength of just being an everyday Nebraskan and I’m able to break a case down And that can be very complex. So anybody can understand it, like we’re just sitting there having a cup of coffee or having a beer. And we’re just discussing what’s going on here. And I think that’s a real big strength of mine is I don’t try to be something I’m not, I don’t try to use fancy words, I don’t try to talk too much. I try to really focus in on what moves the needle, in this case, get rid of all of the white noise, get rid of all the white noise, and we’re going to focus on these issues. So that way, when I talk, the jury listens. Right? Because they’re only going to hear so much of what you say. And it you say a lot of nonsense. They don’t want to listen. And so my one of my favorite things to do is, you know, the state calls some witness who doesn’t matter, right, and they cross examine that, or they direct exam for an hour. And I say, no questions for this witness, they get off the stand, and then you can just see to the jury, they’re like, Okay, that person doesn’t matter. Let’s, let’s disregard everything that just happened. And let’s move on to the next thing. So I like to just keep it simple. Focus on what really matters, keep how I talk, and how I interact with witnesses and everything at a normal conversational level. Because on any jury panel, you’re going to have a doctor, you’re going to have a very blue collar person that might only have a high school education. So if I’m over here trying to show off how smart I am and how many Latin words I learned in law school, I can easily lose people.

Chad Franzen  11:26 

How important is that kind of I guess, for lack of a better word relationship with a jury is that isn’t a like a huge deal. Is that something you really you really concentrate on?

Seth Morris  11:36 

I concentrate on so when I’m starting voir dire, you know, the process of my first interaction with the jury is I want to let them know I’m not going to waste their time, I focus issues that are going to matter. And I set up those hypotheticals so that way, I’m foreshadowing what’s going to come? Essentially, what I’m looking to do is create a tribe out of that jury, whether it be six or 12 people, and I’m the leader of that tribe. And so I want them to say like, oh, yeah, remember back to voir, dear, when we talked about this issue that was going to come up, he was exactly right. Um, and so that way, they, they relate to me, they see that I’m not trying to pull the wool over their eyes, you know, I’ll get out in front of bad issues. I’ll address you know, strengths and weaknesses right out of the gate and just be very genuine. And so you’re that’s part of it. But then it’s also, jurors are watching you when you least expect it. So it’s how do you interact with your clients? How do you interact with court staff? How do you carry yourself, right? And so how do you treat those around you and that way, and just, I believe, lends credibility because I can’t try to be this every man, and then just be in a hole to the bailiff or be rude to my client or be a jerk to the prosecutor. That just doesn’t work. So you just have to be consistent about about who you are.

Chad Franzen  12:58 

Tell me about Liberty Law Group. I know you’re a co founder, tell me how long you guys have been doing your thing and how that kind of came about.

Seth Morris  13:05

Yeah, so it started in August of 2023. So we’re coming up on six months now. So we all there’s four of us now to in Lincoln two at Omaha. And we all worked at Berry Law Firm in Nebraska before. And I guess how it came about if you want me to really wide back. So John Berry’s the founder there I have all the respect in the world for John, have been the biggest professional influence on me in my career, by far. So I was hired there in 2017. I’m eating lunch with him. And we’re talking about, okay, this is your first year here. What are the next five or 10? You know, what are my goals. And at that time, I told him, I wanted to be a partner. You know, I wanted to get on that partnership track. And he was very clear with me from the start. But that’s just not how their their business operated. And that wasn’t a plan now or in the future. And so then at that point, the clock started ticking in the back of my head that sometime in the five to 10 years. I’m going to to branch out. So essentially, I hit kind of the peak I could there. I felt that I had, from an experience standpoint, the skills to do it. I was in a financial position to you know, if we don’t make any money for several months, I can eat that. So it just lined up from an experience standpoint. I was able to talk with other experienced attorneys that were kind of in the same position, they wanted that ownership position, that ownership stake to grow in that partner role. And they were all kind of stuck in the same position. And so we were able to to launch and it’s been going really well. They’re all really talented attorneys. I’m very lucky to have them as my business partners because not only are they good attorneys, but they You understand this is a business. And that’s what a lot of attorneys just don’t get. You know, they they think automatically people are going to hear how great I am. And the money is just going to start flowing in and it’s never going to stop. But you do have to worry about your your bill, or your business before your billable and take care of those.

Chad Franzen  15:20 

Yeah, what’s the what’s the biggest difference? I know, you know, most most attorneys that I speak with the I knew everything that I could know about law, but then I didn’t realize there was like this whole other side of it. If I once I opened my own firm, is there anything that’s kind of been? What’s your learning experience kind of been in that regard?

Seth Morris  15:37 

So I would say the biggest change is having to take care of all these little things that just magically happened. When you’re at a good firm. You know, there’s no IT support, you know, we’ve launched just bare bones, no staff, we’re figuring out what systems are we going to use? What’s the it going to look like? What is marketing going to look like? And so it’s one of those where, if you look at it from, if you would have put it all in one pile, it just becomes overwhelming. But when you know, we’re able to break it down. A you know, Matt Knipe, for instance, has been great about helping us implement Clio. And so we’re working through that process. And then you know, I’ve dealt with business and marketing, I’ve kind of taken over the role of, hey, let’s break down, here’s what we’re spending. Here are other options for us, you know, all of these different things. So we’re kind of wearing different hats and letting people who have strengths in those areas kind of take that. Because for me to implement a system, it’s not going to be great. Like, I’m just not a systems and processes guy. It’s not my strength. But I do love sitting down with marketing people talking about ideas, seeing how we can make this this work can help the brand grow.

Chad Franzen  16:53 

What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers, especially those looking to practice in criminal law?

Seth Morris  17:00 

So my advice would be so are we talking maybe someone that’s in my college that that kind of that kind of.

Chad Franzen  17:07

Yeah, maybe somebody who’s who’s maybe on the verge of graduating law school, but isn’t sure which kind of road to go down?

Seth Morris  17:15

Yeah. Yeah, so if you’re in law school, my advice would be, and I’ve told them, I’m told this spiel, so I’m not making up for the podcast, take classes that you may not find interesting, because you may like it right on the face level, you may not think I have any interest in contracts or bankruptcy or whatever, but you may love it. But also just take different jobs. Because I see a lot of you know what happened with my friends. They’re a one out, they get a job, and they just ride that out to their their three out here. And now all they’ve done is just this much, right? They’re just one inch deep into the wide practice of law. So take a job with, especially if you’re in criminal, take a job with the public defender’s office, they’re always looking for clerks. Try to clerk for a firm that does criminal like Nebraska has a program one of their clinics where you actually prosecute misdemeanor level cases, get those things to actually get your your feet wet. Because there’s a big difference between what things look like on paper and the practice of it. And if you would have told me, you know, 10, 15 years ago, before I had attended law school that I would find criminal defense to be, you know, what I really love to do and, and Personal Injury out of it, like, Nah, I want to do you know, business, corporate law, you know, something like that. But that would have been my answer, or I would have been a prosecutor versus being on on the side that I am. And I just through gaining experience, it’s been a tremendous asset.

Chad Franzen  18:46

What is it about that about doing that specifically that you enjoy so much?

Seth Morris  18:51 

So with criminal defense, I mean, there’s no bigger stakes, right? I mean, because if you’re doing say, mergers and acquisitions, yeah, money matters, but you could always make more money. And you know, the stakes are so high and criminal, because I can’t give people their time back from from life behind bars. And so it’s exhilarating when you get in there and you fight and you get that win. And so that that’s there’s no greater feeling that I’ve experienced as an attorney of walking out of a courtroom and giving somebody hey, you know, here’s your life back. And that’s, that’s what I love about the criminal law and the fact that the odds are so stacked against you. Right, I mean, the city of of Lincoln, their police budget is around $70 million. The city of Omaha their police budget, I think is $150 million. And so all the resources, you know, the prosecutors have so many prosecutors in that office, they have so many cops they have if the local cops can’t do it, they have the State Patrol. They can talk to the DEA, the FBI, they have all the resources and So a lot of times I’m dealing with someone who’s got very limited to no resources. And so working through that, and it’s truly a David versus Goliath and taking on government overreach is is something that I love that battle because the odds are so stacked against you. Just from from the jump.

Chad Franzen  20:17  

Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Hey, I, as I mentioned in your intro, you have experienced you kind of your you do Brazilian jujitsu? Has that influenced your professional life at all?

Seth Morris  20:29  

So the reason I got into jujitsu was because of my professional. Okay. So I was in. So I was in a jail cell one time. And so, visit is not going well, guy is not happy with the news, I’m delivering to him. And I’m literally at this point, I’m just reading him his charges. But that’s it. He’s his mind. He’s threatened into, you know, beat me up all these things. We defuse that situation, I just cut the visit short, get out of there. A year later, you know, I see that that person was involved in a very violent crime. And I’m like, I have little to no actual self defense skills. So I don’t need to be, you know, there’s no, I don’t need to be Conor McGregor. I don’t need to be that. A little jujitsu? You know, get them in a pole guard, get them in a little collar choke or something and wait for the cavalry to arrive? You know, that’s, that’s the reason I started that was, you know, I’m just in a position where sometimes there’s gonna be nobody, and I’m dealing with sometimes mentally unwell, or violent people?

Chad Franzen  21:33  

Sure. Sure. Hey, I have one more question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more information about Liberty Law Group.

Seth Morris  21:39 

Yeah, so our website is libertylaw.nebraska.com. That’s the first place to start. You could also follow us on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, all the different socials. We’re out there.

Chad Franzen  21:50

Last question for you. How do you kind of balance your you know, all of your personal interests, your hobbies, hunting jujitsu, things like that, your family, with your professional life?

Seth Morris  22:01

So it just starts with with discipline. And yes, I get up every morning about 4:15 or 4:20, I want to get a workout in, come back, get the kids to daycare, and then it’s just, you can show you know how somebody who truly cares about something by where they dedicate their time. And so as far as if I’m serious about honey is a passion of mine use that to make it happen. And so it’s just got to be disciplined about how you schedule things, right, versus just letting life happen to you. What’s your biggest moment as a hunter? Oh, man, so you know, there’s, there’s different levels to it. And a lot of times, you know, the things that you remember the most about hunts don’t really have anything to do with, you know, shooting anything being out there, it’s just different things that you see. You know, like one time, you know, it was real early lights, and you know, I saw an owl try to steal one of my decoys. I’ve had fish trying to swallow my decoys like you just have, you know, because you go out there for 4:30 in the morning, and you’re just kind of sneaking up on nature, and then just participating in everything waking up. And so a lot of it is just the experience of unplugging getting out there. It just kind of being away from the world for a few hours, turn the phone off and just focus on you know, trying to call in this this these ducks or this turkey or wait for that big bucks to come around. And so a lot of it is just it’s more of the process than then the final result.

Chad Franzen  23:32

Yeah, that’s very nice. Very nice. Hey, Seth, it’s been great to talk to you. Thank you so much. Really appreciate your time and all of your thoughts, your stories.

Seth Morris  23:40

All right. Thank you so much.

Chad Franzen  23:42

So long, everybody.

Outro  23:45 

Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes, be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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