Partner and Diversity Committee Chair, Burr & Forman LLP
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career is that there are no short cuts. One of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, and in chapter two it talks about the “10,000 hour rule” that essentially says it takes 10,000 hours to be proficient in a certain field. I have tried throughout my career to live by the creed “There are no shortcuts” to becoming good at anything. I have found this to be especially true in the practice of law.
I have also learned much about myself. I learned that I made the correct decision in choosing the legal industry to make a career for myself. It is a tough and “trying” career path, but a rewarding one. For me, there is really no other career path that allows me to do the things that I do as a litigator. Every time I stand in front of a judge or jury and make an argument on behalf my client, I know I am in the right profession.
Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given, and which still holds true today is: “Whatever career you choose Be All In. Do your job as if there is no plan B.”
Everyone perceives “balance” differently; personally I have consistently asked myself these few questions: Am I there for my children? Am I there for my wife? Am I able to care for my aging mother? Am I spending time with the network of friends and family that I have developed over the course of my life? I not only ask myself these questions, but I also ask the people in my life, and so far the answer is yes. If someone wants to be balanced in his or her career and personal life, it has to be done intentionally, vigilantly, and attentively.
In 2011 I started a pre-law program at Burr & Forman through the firm’s diversity committee. Through the program I have been able to hire a number of minority candidates who have excelled in the firm. This program gives African American undergraduate students unique exposure to an Am Law 200 law firm and gives the firm a chance to identify talented future law students. Additionally in 2011, I was selected to be a celebrity coach for a youth all-star football game that gave me an opportunity to mentor young athletes and encourage them to be good students as well as good athletes.