Why I Became a LawyerPosted 02 Apr 2017 by John Phillips
Above my desk is a framed newspaper, “The Wayne County News,” dated August 30, 1934. In it, my great grandfather, Arthur George Busby ,was announced as the “first Wayne County man ever to serve as a Circuit Judge.” He carried every county in the District. He served proudly as he had his legal career before he was elected. He was fair and saw past color or wealth even in an age and place where that was uncommon. He died on the Bench serving the people of Mississippi on September 11, 1948, at age 57. I never knew him. My mother spoke very highly of him. My son bears his name.
I wish I had chronicled every story my mother ever told, written a book which made Harper Lee’s character from To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, seem like the mere fictional character he was. I wish I could get to know him and talk law with him. Yet, he shaped me without one word between us. He shaped me though my mother’s lore and the stories I was able to read and hear. And he is not the only one.
Next to that newspaper, there is a “License to Practice Law” from the State of Mississippi, dated May 30, 1938. It belonged to my grandfather, Arthur George Busby (Junior), his son. With it, is a letter from my grandfather to my grandmother from 1936. It was from a time and age where letters meant so much and it is full of beauty and eloquence and love. My grandfather asks my grandmother to attend his graduation because, “I will always feel that you should be with me when I receive any sort of honor.” He died August 5, 1965 at age 51. I was born 10 years later. I have chased their footsteps for decades. In 2011, I closed the gap, opening my own firm after working in places that didn’t do it a way I -or they- would be as proud of.
I tell these stories and host this blog and have included “Lawyer Life” amongst the categories because I want my infant son (and his son) to be able to know me long after I have joined my grandfather and great grandfather. I want him to be able to see where he came from and how they shaped me so I can hopefully shape him. I want those who I will never meet to meet these men and maybe even peak an interest in knowing where they came from. And I want there to be no question to the question- why did you become a lawyer? It is because of them.
They were honorable men. My mother was a school teacher in an era where women did not follow in their father’s footsteps, although she carried the very same compassion and passion, integrity and fair mindedness as the best of lawyers. It was with great honor I attended law school and practice law and is why -THEY- are apart of the history of my firm.
When my great grandfather, Arthur G. Busby, founded his law practice, things were different. Personal relationships mattered. Compassion mattered. When my grandfather, Arthur George Busby, Jr., stepped into his shoes, he served clients one-on-one. He didn’t even have a secretary… just an office, a typewriter, some law books and an insatiable desire to serve the public. Both were very good attorneys and served businesses and people without reservation of who they were as long as they could help. First and foremost, it was about advocacy for those that needed the help.
I have modeled this practice after them. You can read about past successes, awards and recognitions on other pages of this site. But the reason I am a lawyer comes down to history- I was raised that lawyers were kind and honorable men.
In this day and age, most clients don’t know their lawyer and are dissuaded from personal relationships with them. Some firms are like “fast food” restaurants, handling cases without concern for the custom needs of each client and each case. Some choose a lawyer simply based on “slick” or reprehensible advertisements, many of which bring shame to the profession. Some blindly call 1-800 phone numbers to “ask” a non-lawyer for help picking an attorney.
Whether you choose my firm or not, we ask that you choose wisely. It is an important decision and shapes what lawyers will be like in the future. Our office strives not to be a business, but a family.