Do you like biographies?
I do. I enjoy learning about successful people. How they developed their talents. How they recognized when their moment had arrived. The habits that made them effective.
The NFL Channel has a series of documentaries called “A Football Life.” I like the ones that feature a coach and trace his path to the top of his field.
I guess all this has been on my mind because of graduations. I get resumes from recent law school grads; I interview current students who want to intern with us. All of them want to succeed in the field that has been very good to me and I’m pulling for them.
I remember how it feels to try to carve out a spot in the profession. I remember walking from law office to law office in Tallahassee, Florida. Wearing a suit. Sweating in the sweltering Florida sun. Peddling my resume to anybody that would take it. I needed a summer job between semesters at FSU.
Then, one day I called my wife around noon. “I won’t be able to meet up with you for lunch,” I said. “I’ve got a question I need to research.”
“You mean you got a job?”
“Yep. I walked in without an appointment and gave the secretary my resume. She led me back to a partner’s office and he asked me a few questions. Before I knew it, he showed me my desk and gave me an issue to research.”
Just like that, I had my first law-related job.
I was elated. I had no idea that I would one day equally enjoy the other side of the hiring process—finding a talented young person and watching him or her become a star.
Lately, I have seen this play out on a new level. Our son, David, is a young lawyer. I sure wish I could hire him—Georgia has a nepotism law that won’t allow that.
A bankruptcy firm in Albany, Georgia—Kelley, Lovett and Blakey—took him under its wing. A couple of months ago, they allowed him to open a branch office in Fayetteville. He can do their work from here (technology is amazing) and practice law with my Daddy at the same time. He will handle bankruptcy matters, help Daddy with wills and probate cases and represent people on criminal charges that don’t conflict with my office.
I can tell he loves it. It’s fun to see his face glow as he talks about helping people. He works long hours, not because he has to, but because he wants to pitch in and do his part.
Lawyers get a bad rap and some of them deserve it.
But, don’t overlook the young, articulate, energetic talent that is entering the legal profession. Many of this generation of lawyers abandoned notions of great wealth years ago. What they want—what sustains their zeal and sharpens their skills—is the opportunity to help people that need them.
And for them, the fields are white for harvest.