To my young colleague: thank you for dropping back in for “Lesson No. 2″….hop in and take a ride with me, and I’ll tell you this brief story, and all you have to do is just listen quietly.
After graduating from law school I knew that I wanted to return to my hometown (Anderson) to begin practicing law because after 7 straight years of living there, Columbia was too hot for me in the summer, too cold in the winter, and already overcrowded with attorneys, and I knew that I could be a great “fit” for the larger, mainline law firms in Anderson. I was wrong about that.
I first interviewed with the largest law firm in Anderson at the time (all of them were excellent attorneys, and brilliant, who universally enjoyed great area, even statewide, reputations). All the partners gathered around their conference room table to interview me, and the most senior partner began by asking me two questions: what areas of the law practice were the most interesting to me, and what was my graduating grade point average from law school? WHAT!!!! And so with that, after I answered I believed I could be a “pretty good” TRIAL attorney and gave them my GPA (I’ll never reveal it here, so let’s just say it was high enough to let me graduate from law school), the interview was over! Record time. They thanked me for meeting with them, and they were gracious enough to let one of the partners “show me around” their law library and walk me to my car.
Four months, 2 more “live” interviews, and around 8 “cold calls” to Anderson attorneys later, in December, 1973, I was hired as an associate by a two-man partnership at an annual salary of $9,000. Both attorneys were excellent (the “senior partner” was the Circuit Solicitor at the time, and the “junior partner” was also a terrific trial attorney, but they had completely different and compelling personalities and work ethic. And in the time I was with them, they each became my mentors and my tor-mentors. But to their everlasting credit, they instilled in me the early awakenings of what would become my love for the practice of law…and here’s why: