For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 80,000-plus attorneys, call them, and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?
Areas of practice: Environmental, municipal and energy law. In 2004, after 30 years of public and private practice, I retired as head of a small in-house shop to develop and run a tree farm (landscape trees). We cut, cleared, fenced, sunk wells, installed 2 irrigation systems and planted 5 species of native oak in containers. I’ve got sheep that help with the grass and chickens that help with the pests in and around the containers. It’s a one-man shop, and the learning curve has been steep, but the people in the business are open with advice, suggestions and support of all kinds, at the drop of a hat.
Favorite movie: Giant
The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: “Make yourself indispensible in whatever job you have,” given to me as a youngster by an older solo practitioner, James L.M. Miller, who, as a teenager during the Great Depression, was the sole support of his mother and 4 siblings.
The last movie I saw was: Slumdog Millionaire
Favorite magazine: The Economist. Over the years, they seem to have been ahead of the curve on a lot of important calls.
Education: BA, University of Nebraska (1970); JD, St. Mary’s Law School (1972).
Family: My wife, Nan, and I have been married for 37 years (we met in second grade). Our two sons are married to wonderful young women. We have four grandchildren.
Who are the people you admire most, and why? Parents and teachers of children. How do they do everything they do, on a consistent basis, in a 24-hour day is amazing! Now days, there are so many things that compete for priority. In the face of that, most parents and teachers still make sure the kids come first.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? I’ve been away from it for awhile; but staying current, and coping with the pressures presented by the business side of the practice, were always two of the biggest challenges. Don’t know about now.
Bad habit: Being late for meetings, but that’s not much of a problem anymore!
Community Involvement: St. Anthony Catholic Grade School, Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church
Mentors/heroes: My parents, my wife.
Most important career lesson: Stay current and keep your resume updated.
Latest pursuit: Expanding the farm inventory to include lesser used, drought-tolerant native tree species, e.g. Texas persimmon, Carolina buckthorn, etc..
Current Project: Trying to manage the farm in a way that maximizes organic practices.
“Be yourself” (from my mother)
“Do the best you can, and forget about it” (from my father);
“Age quod agis” or “Do what you’re doing”, a favorite reminder from the terrific priests of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who ran the high school I went to.
Pet peeve: My not putting things back were they belong.
Secret for staying young: Aspirin and red wine!
Favorite TV program: “24”
Favorite artist: Kay Jackson of Washington D.C.
Favorite album: Swing Low
Favorite music/musician: Sam Cooke
Favorite sport: College football and basketball
Favorite food: Mexican food
Favorite restaurant: La Fonda on Main in San Antonio
Generally likes to read/Last book read/Current reading material: The Snowball Warren Buffet and the Business of Life (Schroeder); The German Generals Talk (Hart). I also like to see what other people are reading, e.g. http://abajournal.com/news/whats_on_your_reading_list/
Memorable vacation: Camping in Yellowstone; Visiting the Normandy beaches and cemetery.
Best thing about being a lawyer: Being able to work with people who know what they’re doing, on projects that have a chance of accomplishing something worthwhile.
The part of my job I do best is: grow things
If you weren't an attorney (or farmer), what profession do you think you would be in? A teacher. I’ve taught before and it’s something I think most lawyers might like to do, and would be good at doing.
What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been - licensed? I was licensed in 1973. The ways in which we can now communicate have changed everything in the practice. There are higher expectations on lawyers by clients and the judiciary. Technology has also provided great ways to help meet those expectations. Of course, the ‘increased production’ resulting from these technological developments has a price that’s not always acknowledged.
How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? Given the enormous changes in past 15 years, I can’t imagine; but it seems like there will be tremendous opportunities for lawyers. People who can spot issues, solve problems, pose alternate, and hopefully constructive, courses of action, etc. will always be in demand – and in the future, more than ever. On the civil side, in business settings, it seems like there will be an ever increasing demand for practitioners good at those things. The more complex things get, the more those talents will be at a premium. In that context, keeping the lines clear between the role of the client and the role of the lawyer will be as important as ever.
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