Edgar Gentle has served as a partner at Gentle Turner Sexton and Harbison, LLC, in Birmingham, Alabama, since 1992. In 1998, he took on a director and chairman of the board role at Custom Cable Services, Inc., while continuing is legal activities. Edgar Gentle additionally engages with several industry organizations, including the Academy of Court Appointed Masters (ACAM).
An organization comprising the nation’s top attorneys, judges, parties, and other masters, ACAM provides members with a number of helpful resources, including insight into serving as an effective special master.
One of the most important steps a professional can take in their journey to becoming a renowned and successful master involves establishing a workplace culture of respect. The role of a special master is not always familiar to clients, and rather than relying on the title alone to evoke knowledge and trust, masters must demonstrate respect and understanding to all parties involved in a suit. Furthermore, special masters do not often practice in a traditional courtroom setting and must be capable of carrying this respectful culture wherever they go.
A special master should make themselves available for communication to both parties at all times. Issues between parties can arise at any moment, such as during a deposition, and the quicker a master can mediate the situation, the better. Similarly, special masters should frequently communicate with the presiding judge. Judges typically outline their preferred style and frequency of communication in an official order following the appointment of a special master, but masters should always be prepared to offer detailed, daily accounts.
Finally, special masters must develop a reputation for holding steadfast to their recognized capacity as a court appointee. Special masters often are granted elevated levels of authority, but must make sure that their actions are always within the scope of the presiding judge’s original order.