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“You’re always fighting for the underdog, and in a system that doesn’t necessarily want the underdog to win.” Warren Hynson, Class of 2016, is developing a reputation as one of North Carolina’s most expert criminal litigators.

Opening a Solo Practice

After law school, Hynson moved back to North Carolina where he started as an associate at Allen Moore & Rogers LLP, taking on both criminal and civil cases. At the end of 2020, his passion for criminal law and his strong reputation in the area enabled him to open a thriving solo practice. He is one of many attorneys in the area focusing on raising and litigating issues of racial equity in North Carolina’s criminal justice system.

A Criminal Litigator's Caseload

Hynson focuses on criminal appeals ranging from misdemeanors to 1st degree murder and post-conviction cases. His prospective clients, or often their loved ones, approach him seeking to get a fresh set of eyes on their cases. Hynson’s role is to reevaluate the facts of the case, sometimes in the context of new evidence. He works with folks who were convicted as recently as this year and as far back as 1987.

Hynson describes the process of researching older cases to be “archeological” in nature. He revisits files and documents that have long been forgotten, and strategizes on how the cases can be re-pieced together. It’s not uncommon to discover a mistake that’s gone unnoticed through prior trials, with those discoveries having life-changing implications for his clients. Most recently, he uncovered a technicality that got a 1995 conviction thrown out, and his client out of prison. 

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Criminal Lawyer

Soft Skills in Criminal Law

Through his practice, Hynson has seen first-hand the importance of resilience and empathy, particularly when working in appeals. When advocating for his clients, he has to find a balance between maintaining a positive outlook while still staying transparent and setting realistic expectations about the possible outcomes of each case. On his best days, Hynson’s played a pivotal role in giving someone a second chance; on his more challenging days, he must deliver news of a less-favorable ruling. However, he attests that it all feels worth it at the end of the day; “there will be times where you don’t get the result that you want, but know that there are wins to be had.”

 

Hynson encourages anyone finding themselves captivated by criminal law or wrongful conviction courses to follow that inclination and try criminal law out for size. He recommends starting by chatting with professors and others in your network about finding a fellowship or participating in a clinic in the criminal law area.

 

Interested in how New England Law can give you a head start in the criminal law field? Hear from a student who's been through our program.