March 21, 2024 - by Colleen Aracri

Calling Lawyers to the Legislature: Delegate C.T. Wilson

C.T. WILSON, CHAIR OF THE HOUSE ECONOMIC MATTERS COMMITTEE in Maryland's General Assembly, not only serves his community as a legislator but is also an accomplished attorney. As the head of the Law Office of C.T. Wilson, LLC, Wilson focuses his practice on criminal matters, representing some personal injury clients as well. As a member of the House of Delegates, he develops and votes on bills addressing a diverse range of issues, including banking, cannabis, commercial law, corporations, business regulation, economic development, electronic commerce, insurance, labor and employment, and utility regulation.

Wilson admits that it is a challenge to balance a legal and legislative career, but for him, it is worth the fight. He believes that working as a legislator is highly beneficial in any practice in any area of practice because it provides insight into the policies as to why the laws are created, and helps people broaden their professional network and elevate their practice.

Wilson stresses the importance of having practicing attorneys in the General Assembly, emphasizing that they understand the nuances of legislative language and the impact of laws. When Wilson is in court, he often hears complaints about new laws and old laws that need to be fixed on a myriad of issues—family law, criminal, civil, real estate. In response to such grievances, Wilson tells his colleagues that maybe they should run for office. He thinks that many lawyers realize that they don't need new laws; the applicable laws are already on the books, they just need a way to enforce them.

According to Wilson, lawyers are a natural fit as law makers, as they understand the importance of language, unintended consequences, and how laws fit into our daily lives. He noted, “the greatest part about being a lawyer is the first year you learn to be problem solvers—to identify an issue and possible solutions.” He is passionate about urging fellow attorneys to step up and become part of the legislative process. He emphasized, “as attorneys, we have a learned inclination to not only identify issues but to find expedient and viable solutions, and we are currently bereft of legal minds in the statehouse.”

Wilson became involved in politics because he wanted to make sure that the voices of foster youth, child sex abuse victims, and veterans were heard in Maryland. In the future, he would like to see meaningful juvenile justice reform that provides accountability and oversight to our children who are committing violent crimes. Like Wilson, many attorneys were motivated to go to law school by the desire to make change, and he believes that there is no greater opportunity to make change than on a local level. He pointed out that such change does not have to be a state house; it can be a school board or one of the many boards governing jurisdictions. At every level, Wilson asserts, it is important for attorneys to be involved in the law-making process because they understand the law.

Tell us a little bit about your current role.

Currently, I am a sole practitioner, mostly practicing criminal law with some personal injury clients. On any given day, I am either meeting with clients, interviewing potential clients, sitting in court, or trying cases in front of a jury. Any downtime is spent in case prep.

What are some of the challenges you face in your current role?

Balancing my responsibilities as a committee chair, the demands of running a firm, and still finding time to provide and care for my three daughters.

Why did you enter the legal profession?

Growing up in foster care, I had to depend on attorneys to speak my behalf in court and family hearings for reunification, access to blood relatives, and adoption. Unfortunately, they usually did a very poor job of taking care of me. As such, I was continually placed in horrible situations, and I acted out. This led to school suspensions and juvenile arrests, forcing me to again rely on attorneys who did not seem to care about me. I figured out that the best way for me to protect myself was to become an attorney; that way, I would never be helpless to defend myself.

What is the best piece of advice you have received from someone in the legal profession?

Treat each case, no matter how small or trivial, as if it is the most important thing your client is dealing with because it usually is.

What is your fondest memory of your legal career so far?

Honestly, I have had some huge courtroom triumphs as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, but my fondest memory of my legal career was the first day that it started. I am not talking about my first trial or first job. Not even passing the bar exam or graduating from law school. The fondest moment of my legal career was walking across Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., to attend my first day of law school at Howard University School of Law. Although I had always wanted to be a lawyer, I never really thought I would have made it that far. Everything else, these last 20 years, has really just been icing on the cake.

What are the best skills you bring to your legal career?

Growing up with a difficult childhood, my time in the U.S. Army and combat sports has taught me the value of being a fighter. Every fight is multi-faceted, no matter if it’s in a club, the battlefield or the courtroom, and no single trait can guarantee success. You have to constantly train and practice while pushing your mind and body past its limits. You have to learn how to quickly adapt to changing situations. You have to be willing to get dirty and make mistakes. You have to be willing to work on your shortcomings and always be willing to learn more. You have to respect your opponent and never underestimate ANYONE. You have to be able to learn from your mistakes and losses. You have to be willing to give it everything you have, even if the situation seems hopeless.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

Being able to help people in their worst hour. People always ask me how I can be a defense attorney, especially after being a prosecutor. I respond by saying that when we lay our heads down at night, no one prays for what they really deserve, no one prays for justice for themselves—we all want God’s mercy. Many times, my clients are just looking for that same mercy that we all pray for.

How do you spend your free time? Working out at the gym is how I relax.

What’s an interesting fact about you that no one would guess? I’m kind of a nerd. I love classic Dr. Who and British Comedy. I watch them every night to fall asleep.


This article appeared in the Spring 2024 edition of the Maryland Bar Journal. To read this article and more, click here