How I Became A Lawyer

I recently wrote on Abnormal Use about the importance of storytelling for lawyers when marketing themselves and their law practices. As I said then, I was inspired to work on some of my own stories. This is the result of that initial effort.

When I first went to Furman University as a student in the Fall of 1980, I wanted to be a doctor. My Dad was a dentist, and I knew that was not for me. But I did like the life sciences, including biology and anatomy. So, I filled my first year with Botany, Zoology, and Calculus, laying the groundwork for my pre-med curriculum. The next fall, when it was time to register for classes, I found myself in line to register for Organic Chemistry, the course that separates the wheat from the chaff. I hesitated. I began questioning why I wanted to be a doctor and whether I had truly considered any other path. I walked away from that registration line that day and spent the next year wandering in the wilderness.

During that year, I spent time with the Furman chaplain, Dr. Jim Pitts, exploring whether I was being called into ministry as my vocation. I even spent a semester as a volunteer hospital chaplain at Easley Baptist Hospital. It readily became apparent that was not the path for me, but I did get the chance to preach on Youth Sunday at my home church of First Baptist in Forest City, North Carolina. My uncle, Dr. John Johns, then President of Furman, was in the congregation that day. A friend recently reminded me of my uncle’s comments after hearing my sermon: “You would make a fine lawyer,” apparently referring to my ability to communicate effectively. Not long after that, I made an appointment with him to discuss it further. He encouraged me to seriously consider the law as my chosen profession.

Later, I sat down with one of my Dad’s lawyer friends, Tolliver Davis, who was the U.S. Magistrate for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. He patiently answered my questions about the law. After this due diligence, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I was probably not sure why, or even what type of law in which I was interested. What I did know was that my Dad respected Tolliver Davis as a man of integrity. That was the beginning point, and how I became a lawyer.

I changed my major to Political Science; I graduated from Furman in 1984 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1987. I have been practicing with the law firm of Gallivan White, & Boyd, P.A. in Greenville, South Carolina ever since.

The practice of law has changed dramatically over the last 29 years. Law firm economics and the business of law have become increasingly difficult, more demanding. Yet, I have never regretted my decision to become a lawyer. I enjoy helping people and businesses with their problems, whatever they may be. Now that I think about it, not only do you know how I became a lawyer, you now know why as well.