Gene L. Locke
Partner, Andrews Kurth LLP
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
During my days in the civil rights movement, I learned that advocacy, coupled with passion, can transform the ideas held by others. Advocacy and passion have served me well throughout my legal career, as a small firm “people’s lawyer,” city attorney for the City of Houston, and counsel for large government bodies.
My mother inspired me to work hard. My grandparents demonstrated to me the value of service to others. My teachers in our segregated school system demanded that I dream big. Collectively, I received inspiration from many people, who offered kind words and acts of support to a young man trying to find himself in a world where the odds were not with him.
I try to lead by example and with respect. I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and do the detailed work necessary for my clients. Even as a senior partner, I am able to motivate our associates and younger partners by demonstrating my commitment to hard work, while respecting their contributions.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
Change is inevitable. But our complacency, in the midst of change, will help move the needle backwards. Today, those historic achievements of prior years are being threatened. We must protect and exercise our fundamental right to vote. We must participate in the applicable process to ensure a fair and objective judiciary. We must ensure access to quality education, affordable healthcare, and well-paying jobs. Internal to our community, we must recognize class divisions and work to prevent an “us” versus “them” mentality. Finally, we must build coalitions with all people of good will to ensure fairness for all, regardless of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
HOW I GIVE BACK
I participate in many volunteer activities through my church (Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church), the UNCF, and the Houston Urban Debate League, to name just a few. I also serve as a mentor to young professionals and students, trying to help them benefit from my lessons learned.
Patience. Yes, patience is a virtue. This is true in politics, business, and in personal relations. I may want to see rapid change, but circumstances and conditions that have existed a long time will take a long time to change—especially if we want that change to be sustainable. I have learned that patience and passion can live in the same person without conflict.
A BALANCED LIFE
I spend as much time as possible with my family. My wife of 31 years gives me strength every day and my five children make me so proud. Cooking, sports, and “old movies” are particularly entertaining and enjoyable.
I have learned to appreciate the strength of effective teamwork. I can accomplish so much more when I am working with a team. I enjoy teamwork—at work, in my community, and with my family.
Be prepared for hard work and long hours. There is no substitute for preparation—and that takes a lot of time. Find your passion and let it be your guide. When you do that, the hard work becomes enjoyable. (I enjoy sports and as an attorney, I represent the Harris County Sports Authority, the landlord for our major professional sports facilities in Houston.) Do not kill yourself over your mistakes—just don’t make the same mistake over and over. And try to find humor whenever possible.