Getting The Help You Need: Turtles On Fence Posts

Some years ago, while I was in Nashville, Tennessee, I attended a show at the Grand Ole Opry. I remember Little Jimmy Dickens saying, “If you see a turtle on a fence post, it had help getting up there.” I wrote it down; saved it for later reference. While the quote has its roots in politics, it is a constant reminder to me that whatever I have done or will do, there are others there to help along the way.

As a young lawyer, our law firm had a policy that a partner would accompany any new lawyer on his or her first jury trial. My partner, Phil Reeves, watched me try a case for an armored car service. Another partner was with me when I defended a trucking company in an accident case. Howard Boyd was there when I did my best to defend a garbage truck driver who ran another truck off the road. Howard was also seated beside me when I took one of my first depositions. After each of these events, my colleague patiently debriefed me on my performance, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Have you ever watched someone else try a case? It is not easy to stay seated and refrain from yelling out, “Objection!”)

Howard Boyd has also been a mentor to lawyers outside our firm.  In fact, I was recently talking to another Greenville lawyer who told me how much he appreciated how helpful Howard had been to him when he was a young lawyer with little experience.

I am grateful for the support that I received as a young lawyer, even now, as an older, more experienced lawyer. It is one of the advantages of being in a law firm with a diverse group of lawyers, all with different styles and perspectives.

Who helped you along the way? Did you have a special mentor? We would all do well to remember what it was like to be a young, inexperienced lawyer. You were a turtle on a fence post, and you had help getting up there!


  1. Paula Forbes says:

    I am not an attorney but I have worked with and in law firms for the past 16 years, first as a court reporter, next as a legal secretary and now as the billing and collections department manager. The encouragement I received from attorney Theresa Horton to push myself and reach new goals was greatly appreciated. During my transition from court reporter to legal secretary I was fortunate to work for an attorney, Anne Culbreath, who was also teaching courses for the paralegal program at a local community college – which meant she had the patience and mindset to “teach” me how to become the best legal secretary I could. Lastly, the support and encouragement of attorney David Rheney who willingly supported my move from legal secretary to my current position will never be forgotten and pushed me to professional heights I truly never imagined I would attain. My business savvy sister also played a vital role in my successful career so I have her to thank as well. I am a turtle on a fencepost and am surrounded by wonderfully supportive people.