Charles K. Grant
Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
I am one of 15 children. My father died when I was a small child. My mother, Verleon Smithson Grant, has been a great inspiration. She taught at a juvenile detention facility during the day and waitressed at night. Despite the demands of raising such a large family, she remained involved in her community. My mother’s encouragement and guidance helped me accomplish my dream of becoming a lawyer, and I try to honor her example of service to others through my professional and community involvement.
HOW I MOTIVATE OTHERS
I believe in teamwork, and I value the input and ideas of others. Showing appreciation for a job well done can never be undervalued. When there is room for improvement, I offer specific and constructive criticism, as well as encouragement, to foster growth and change.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
A public education system that all too often fails to adequately educate children so that they can transcend poverty and the hopelessness that comes with it. While I have seen and been inspired by many success stories (including those of former felons who have rebuilt their lives), I also have seen the hopelessness of children and young people who simply do not believe they can change their circumstances. That is why I am such a staunch believer in ensuring educational and mentoring opportunities.
I am the Board Chair for Project Reflect, which sponsors Smithson-Craighead Academy, Nashville’s first charter school for low-income, at-risk children, over 95% of whom are black. In order for all of our children to have a chance to succeed, they must have strong educational options.
My pro bono work has focused heavily on helping former felons regain the franchise through litigation and lobbying our state legislature. Disenfranchisement has had a particular impact on the black male population.
I also work to further minority opportunities in the legal profession through my service on the Nashville Bar Association Board, through my service on our firm’s diversity and recruiting committees, and through mentoring. On December 6, 2013, I was installed as the first African-American president of the Nashville Bar Association since its inception in 1831. So many have helped me along my journey, giving back is of the utmost importance to me.
Work very hard. Seek good mentors and learn from them. Maintain your integrity. And show appreciation to those who help you along the way (especially your secretary, if you are lucky enough to have a great one).