I’ve written this post mostly about me and what I am thinking about this week. So, when you read the title, and this sentence, you may have asked yourself:
What does any of this have to do with me?
For those of you not likely to read all of this post, let me answer the question up front.
You never know where your career and life will take you, and it’s best to be open to new ideas.
I received a call last week on my cell phone. When I looked at the caller ID I saw it was from the Atlanta, Georgia area code. I rarely answer unknown callers, but I answered this one.
The person on the other end told me his name, which sounded vaguely familiar. He said he was calling to ask me to be on the Virginia Tech Class of 69 50th Reunion Committee. I had just returned from watching the Hokies lose to Notre Dame, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back next year for a game, but I told the caller I would serve.
When I was a student at Virginia Tech they started The Old Guard. (Click to read about it.) The Old Guard were the graduates of 50 or more years before. At homecoming, the oldsters walk out onto the football field, if able, and are recognized.
When I was sitting in the stands in 1967, the Old Guard members were those who graduated in 1917 and before. I thought at the time they really looked old. My father, who was born in 1914 was only three when those Old Guard members graduated from Virginia Tech.
I remember thinking: They look old. They graduated from Virginia Tech before the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression and World War II.
When the current Virginia Tech students see the Class of 69, I doubt they will give it much thought, but they could think: They graduated before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, before CDs, DVDs, video cameras, bank ATM machines, home and office computers, iPods, cell phones, social media…and the great divide in our country today.
I never gave one thought to the possibility that there would come a time when I would become a member of the Old Guard. I’m not sure I even gave thought to what it would be like to practice law for 38 years, and I certainly never thought I would complete my legal career practicing law with a big law firm in Dallas, Texas. I also never thought that just after my best year practicing law I would give up my legal career to coach younger lawyers.
Most importantly, I didn’t think that literally a week after graduation, I would see this beautiful, vibrant, radiant young woman, named Nancy and over that summer of 1969, we would both work the graveyard shift 12AM to 8 AM, we’d get engaged and the next year we’d get married on June 6.
Over the years young lawyers have asked, how did you know Nancy was the one? Nancy and I have both said “we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” meaning in many ways we were lucky. But, we connected in part because we each felt our lives would be enriched being together. We were both striving to accomplish something in our lives, and we continue with our efforts today.
But, looking back to when the first Old Guard was introduced at Virginia Tech in 1967, I didn’t know I would meet Nancy, and I didn’t know many things about my future.
- I wasn’t sure I would be accepted at a law school
- I wasn’t sure the United States Air Force would give me a deferment to go to law school
- I didn’t know I would have the opportunity to become a government contracts litigator while on active duty in the USAF
- I didn’t know that after my tour of duty in the USAF, I would start with a law firm in Roanoke, Virginia
- I didn’t know I would create a niche law practice representing highway and bridge construction contractors
- I didn’t know I would move my niche practice and family to Richmond, Virginia and later to Dallas, Texas
- I never dreamed I would represent some of the largest, most successful contractors in the United States
- I never considered the possibility that when I was the very top of my law career I would give it all up to coach and teach younger lawyers
- It never entered my mind that in 2018, the year before becoming a member of the Old Guard, I would be living in Prosper, Texas, recruiting lawyers I know for law firms I know and I would be writing my second courtroom novel