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Holmes Lilley on Career Advice and Sticking to Positive Lifestyle Habits

Holmes Lilley serves as General Partner of Employer Defense Group, LLP and is seasoned legal counsel; he is a proven leader, highly skilled legal counsel, and trusted business advisor to private and publicly-traded companies of all sizes.  Currently located in Southern, California his primary areas of expertise include Workers’ Compensation Defense, Wage and Hour Class […]

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Holmes Lilley
Holmes Lilley

Holmes Lilley serves as General Partner of Employer Defense Group, LLP and is seasoned legal counsel; he is a proven leader, highly skilled legal counsel, and trusted business advisor to private and publicly-traded companies of all sizes.  Currently located in Southern, California his primary areas of expertise include Workers’ Compensation Defense, Wage and Hour Class Action Litigation Management, Commercial Transactions, Corporate Governance, Compliance, Litigation Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Legal Department Management. Lilley’s subspecialty is managing in-house and external counsel, yielding desired results and dramatic client savings.

Lilley is both California and Nevada Registered and Certified In-House counsel, and admitted to practice before all North Carolina state courts; he is admitted to practice in federal court before the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

His most recent venture was founding the law firm of Employer Defense Group, LLP (“EDG”) in 2017. Along with managing EDG’s day-to-day operations, Lilley serves as General Counsel to Chartwell Staffing Services, Inc. in Los Angeles, California, where he oversees Chartwell’s legal department.

Lilley received his JD from Elon University School of Law, where he focused particularly on Corporate Law and Litigation. Lilley was a member of Elon Law’s Innocence Project and a nominee for the Inscoe Scholarship Award. His other notable experiences include being the key representative before a Congressional Roundtable at the request of Congressmen Mike Thompson, key Speaker for The American Health Lawyers Association, annual meeting, Long-term Care, and the Law. Lilley has also published HITECH ACT: Security Breach Notifications Legal Briefing for The HR Group, Inc. and The Ins and Outs of the Employment Security Commission.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

Professionally and in business, I have been more accepting and more tolerant of risk and actually going out and assuming more risk with the upside of having more reward.  Anytime you open any new business, or you switch roles, you are taking on some risk.  When I started the law firm, Employer Defense Group, in 2017 it was a risk.  You hire one paralegal and you hire one attorney.  These are real people with households that count on them and they are counting on you. Those are the risks that you assume.  You sign leases and get insurance and end up taking on a lot of obligations all in an uncertain setting.  If you are more accepting of risk and able to effectively operate in that setting, then you eventually get the benefit and the reward of taking that risk.  Our law firm has grown significantly in the last three years, and a lot of that risk is starting to pay off for us. Risk must always be proportional to reward.   

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

Every morning at 5:30 am, I head out for a three-mile walk.  It helps me clear my head and get focused for the day.  I think about what problems I need to solve and reflect on the successes and blunders of previous days.  That’s really a good time for me to get focused. 

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

I feel they should think seriously about what sort of career or professional setting is going to work best for them in their life.  Specifically, I think they need to figure out if they are an entrepreneur or if they want to work for a large corporation.  Some people end up working up for a company when they are really entrepreneurs and then they look up 20 years later and think, man, I really should have started that business, or I should have done this or that. That said, plenty of people enjoy the stability associated with working for a large organization, and that is understandable.  The earlier you figure out how you will be most comfortable, professionally speaking, the better off you are. 

Also, I would ignore anything that says you need to be a certain age to do something, or that you need to have a certain amount of money saved by a certain age, or that you need to own a house at a certain age.  I would ignore thinking that you need to be at a certain place at a certain point in your life. 

What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?

Exercise provides a lot of benefit in terms of stress relief.  I think exercise in general is a good lifestyle habit and trend to maintain. 

I use an Apple watch.  Wearables are definitely helpful.  It is nice to count your calories and count your steps.  It provides a level of motivation to exercise when you have something that is keeping you accountable. 

Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

My mother has been the biggest influence in my life.  She was a single mom, raising two young children, and she worked three jobs to always make sure that her kids had everything we needed.  Her work ethic is something that inspires me and has been a huge influence in my life. 

What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?

There really is no replacement for hard work.  You cannot escape the grind.  You’ve got to put in your time to find success.  There really is no such thing as an overnight success.  Nobody really sees the grind or the behind-the-scenes hard work that you have to put in.  I think that having a strong work ethic is absolutely key and something that, from a business standpoint, you’ve got to be prepared for. 

What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?

It is work ethic.  It’s being willing to put in the long hours, make the phone calls that people don’t want to make, and making decisions regarding assumption of risk.  It’s all about your work ethic and how many hours you are willing to put in to realize the goal.  Work ethic will beat talent and luck any day of the week. 

How do you stay motivated?

I’ve got two kids –  – so my motivation really is my kids and my wife.  They really keep me going and keep me motivated to be successful and to provide a good role model for them. 

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

I hope to leave behind a legacy of results without ever sacrificing integrity or ethics.  Your honesty and integrity are all you really have at the end of the day, so if you can maintain those while achieving stellar results you have done something special.  

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