Dugger and Cole Law Firm to close after 57 years

After roughly 57 years of serving Elizabethton and Carter County, Dugger and Cole Law Firm will be officially closing at the end of the week.

Mark Dugger said he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and with it came a deterioration of his voice and other physical impairments.

“It is bittersweet,” Dugger said about having to officially close.

He said he attempted to set things up for his sister to take his place, but then she received a cancer diagnosis.

Dugger and Cole represent more than 50 years of practicing law in Elizabethton’s downtown area. Dugger said he always wanted to be a lawyer, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.

“I enjoy competition,” he said. “There is a lot of hard work, research and preparing the case. You will have hours of prep for 10 minutes of testimony.”

This hard work does not restrict itself to the walls of their office at 625 East Elk Ave., however. Dugger said he will often help callers with smaller legal questions at no charge. Another woman would call every two or three months about debt collectors harassing her over the phone, and she would be afraid of being arrested, a fear he would regularly try to convince her was unwarranted, as debts on the civil side cannot result in jail time.

“One lady needed help creating a will last week,” Dugger said. “I will miss doing stuff like that.”

Dugger has provided roughly 31 years of law experience to his community, having originally joined the firm in 1983. He said he often tries to bring this experience to younger lawyers he meets and works with.

“Emotions are high on both sides,” Dugger said. “Judges have to make tough decisions, not based on personality, but on what they believe to be the law.”

He said keeping emotions in check is crucial to the field, because without that restraint, the law does not work.

“If you do not believe in the system, it would be a mob rule or vigilante justice,” he said.

Above all, he said he has worked hard to maintain a positive reputation of respect towards and from his community.

“It takes 10 years to make a reputation and 10 seconds to tear it down,” Dugger said.

Officially, the doors will close on July 1, though Dugger will continue to wrap up loose ends on active cases after that point.

He said lawyers like himself exist to help the people in their struggles.

“There is always a lawyer that can help you,” Dugger said.

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