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  • Writer's pictureRachel J. Clevenger

A Legacy of Law

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

With L.C. James and his son, David James, law runs in the family.

Because L.C. James is my father and David James is my brother, there's clearly no way to be unbiased. What I can offer to their potential clients, though, is an overview of these two attorneys--and the kind of men they are--beyond their impressive academic pedigrees, multiple honors or awards, and vast experience of Family Law in Mississippi. As L.C.'s daughter, and David's big sister, I can tell you about their character and compassion because I've witnessed those traits in action countless times.

When I was a child and poking around my grandparents' house, I ran across a yearbook with my father's senior picture. His peers had created a caption for him: "If brains were dynamite, L.C. could blow up the whole world."

That's one of the first times I recognized that in addition to being a wonderful father, he had always been exceptionally intelligent, hardworking, and ambitious. As his practice grew, his reputation as an attorney grew as well. By the time I was in high school, I was regularly hearing, "I saw your dad in the news again."

As a high-profile attorney involved with both local and state-level politicians--and someone held in the highest esteem in the field of family law--he was regularly popping up in The Clarion Ledger or on the local news stations.

Admittedly, as a child, seeing that level of excellence in a parent is often daunting, especially because he was gifted at so much beyond the law. His remarkable memory offered an affinity for numbers that was mind-boggling, and he had extraordinary recall about history, literature, science--but he could also enjoy a silly movie or hitting theme parks with his family because he had balance as well. Though he always worked late into the night on his cases, he also stayed committed and unfailingly generous to his family, especially his children and parents.

Brilliant, but Compassionate

In popular TV shows, brilliant characters are often depicted as having remarkable brains but below-average social skills or emotional intelligence; many are shown as being distant or disconnected from other people: Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory," Gregory House in "House," and Benedict Cumberbatch in "Sherlock Holmes" (or Robert Downey, Jr. in "Sherlock Holmes," for that matter).

That is not the case with L.C. James. His kindness is as soaring as his intellect. Case in point: When I was seven, I made him a slice of cheese toast, and I was devastated when the cheese burned, leaving an ugly black bubble in the middle of the snack. He convinced me that "slightly burned" was exactly how he liked it, so he ended up eating my purposely "slightly burned" creations for several more years.

At ten, I would cut his hair while he worked on a file for a client. I can't imagine how much he had to pay a professional to undo my efforts the next day, but I felt quite important indeed that a professional trusted me to take scissors to his hair.

Also, he loved buying us presents; my brother, sister, and I were shown repeatedly how important we were through sweet gifts that demonstrated that--no matter how busy he was every week--he still knew who we were as people and what we valued. One of the best gifts he brought home was my younger brother, David.

Razor-sharp Wit and Profound Understanding of Human Nature

Nine years David's senior when he was born, I was mature enough to appreciate what a delight babies can be but not yet old enough to be distracted with my friends. I seemed to be nabbing David from our mother whenever I had the chance. Always imagining myself as his protector, I wondered how it could impact David if he went into law, though that's where he was being pulled.

I worried about how hard it might be to enter the same field where a remarkable parent has already blazed such a powerful trail, but David brought his own special talents, sensibilities, and sense-of-self to his work with clients.

If I may borrow from Hollywood again, I look to the talented actors who had sons that followed them into the family business: Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard, James and Josh Brolin, among many others. In short, while the younger men may have first been recognized within their industry as their father's sons, they earned accolades and praise for their distinct talents and abilities.

Like our father, David is incredibly smart; he listens with his full attention and has a deep understanding of the complexities of emotion and relationships. Over the years, our roles have switched, in that he has become my protector really--giving me "the family discount" (free) for legal advice in all manner of areas: divorce, child support, buying commercial real estate, tenant law and contracts. The scope of his knowledge is simply astounding.

In the DNA

No longer a child, I know how special it is to have professionals in any field who are both exceptional at their jobs and compassionate, kind people. I know how lucky their clients are to have people who know as much as they do, and care as much as they do.

As I watch David and his wife raising their two children, I see how those traits will continue--no matter what paths those amazing children choose.

While David's brilliant and accomplished wife is a significant part of that equation, of course, I see the same competitive spirit, fierce determination, native intelligence, and intellectual curiosity that has marked the family for decades and defined us since Dad was the age his grandson is now.

What they have accomplished together in Family Law, as father and son, has been undeniably impressive. But, a love of the law is not the only legacy.

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