Leigh O’Dell is a shareholder in our Mass Torts Section. The Autauga County native returned to the firm in April of 2005 and has been working primarily on Vioxx cases for the last two years. Leigh was a lawyer with the firm from 1994 through 1998. She left in 1998 to take a position with Focus on the Family. Under the leadership of Dr. James C. Dobson, Leigh served Focus on the Family as Director of Women’s Ministries. In that capacity, Leigh was responsible for Renewing the Heart, a nation wide series of one-day arena events designed to encourage and refresh women through worship and the Word of God.
Leigh came back to the firm in 2000 for a short time before joining AnGeL Ministries, the ministry of Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Dr. Billy Graham. As Director of Events for Anne’s ministry, Leigh was responsible for the development and execution of Just Give Me Jesus, a series of two-day revivals that have taken place around the world and are designed to revive God’s people in their relationship with Jesus. Leigh, an outstanding lawyer, and an extremely hard worker, does excellent work. She has been an inspiration to all of us at the firm. We are blessed to have Leigh with us.
Alicia Hill, who has been with the firm for over six years, currently serves as Legal Secretary to Roger Smith in the Mass Torts Section. She played an important role in her work relating to the Vioxx litigation. Alicia has been married to Tommy Hill for 8 years, and they have one dog, Prissy, who is said to be the boss at the Hill household. She enjoys reading and is involved in several church activities, including teaching 1st through 3rd grade Sunday school. Alicia is a very good employee who enjoys her work – which can be very challenging – and we are fortunate to have her with the firm.
Shannon Rattan, who was previously employed at the firm in the Accounting Department from 2001-2002, came back to work with us in February 2006 as a Clerical Assistant in our Personal Injury Section. She has recently become Julia Beasley’s legal secretary. Shannon has two boys, Sean and Cade, who are her pride and joy. Sean started kindergarten this year in Millbrook, and Cade just turned 3 in September. In her free time, Shannon enjoys painting wall murals and canvases. Shannon is a very good employee, a very hard worker, and she is dedicated to helping all of the clients represented by Julia. We are fortunate to have Shannon with the firm.
Family Sunshine Center
Each year our firm adopts several families at the Family Sunshine Center during the Christmas Season. The project is the only one supported exclusively by our lawyers. This year we adopted 6 mothers with a total of 30 children. Gifts for the mothers and children were purchased and were designed to fill out their Christmas wish list. The Family Sunshine Center sends out information on families of all sizes and needs to individuals, groups and corporations. Adopters purchase new gifts from a "Wish List" provided by each adopted family. That approach makes sure individual needs are met for each family. The support of the adopters ensures that each of the families at the Center enjoys the joy and happiness of being together during the holidays. As you may know, the Family Sunshine Center works hard to end family violence and to foster hope and healing in families. The Center serves seven Alabama counties: Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes, and Montgomery.
***SOME CLOSING OBSERVATIONS
A Request That I Couldn’t Refuse
My daughter Bee McCollum sent me an article last month that had been written by Linda Shook. The article, which was to have been included in a publication by the School of Business at Auburn University, for some reason, was never published. The interview took place over a year ago while I was doing a day of “teaching” at the business school. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the school and I was most impressed with the faculty members and students. Linda, who did lots of research on my life history, would like to have her article published in the Report. After thinking about it, I agreed to include it in this issue. I must say I had never read it before Bee sent it and it brought back some fond memories.
“You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in his shoes."
Well-known lawyer and victims’ rights advocate Jere Beasley recently returned to his alma mater to address students in the College of Business. The senior member of the firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. has practiced law for over forty years. His springtime return marked a milestone for Beasley. It was his first visit to the College of Business as a guest lecturer since graduating from Auburn in 1959.
"I’ve always believed that Auburn University did a good job preparing its students," said the Montgomery resident. After spending several hours with the students in the classroom lecturing and in round table forums discussing law and business, his belief in the strength of an Auburn education was confirmed. "I was very impressed with the kinds of questions they asked," specifically citing the extensive knowledge the students had about consumer issues, regulatory agencies, and business law.
During his presentation, Beasley shared his firm commitment to integrity in all areas of life. He presented the students with two important keys to being successful in business and in life. He told the men and women "to be loyal to their firm. Operate within the rules and, remember, loyalty never means cheating." The second mandate is "to set priorities and (for him) that means God, family, and his law firm in that order." He also encouraged the students to be involved in the world around them and to be the best they can be. The recurring theme in his discussion was "to do the right thing." Beasley also exhorted the students to learn to write well, a skill they will need and use throughout their lives.
Beasley also was impressed with Auburn’s faculty. "The instructors are good and I am impressed with the new dean. Auburn is producing outstanding business leaders," he said. Beasley’s visit to Auburn after living here as a student over 45 years ago was cause for fond reflection and remembrance of his academic career, which, surprisingly, almost never began.
Beasley traveled an indirect path to Auburn University; and sometimes the road less traveled is the best. In high school, his athletic career was to determine his choice of college. His original college plans involved football and the University of Georgia but his playing career was cut short after an injury; and, so his plan to go east for school ended. Sharing a somewhat startling insight, Beasley said, "I was a college drop-out." After a two-year stint at a junior college in Mississippi, Beasley finally decided to enroll at Auburn University; the time was autumn of 1957. That fall he met someone who would change his life forever. That person was Sara Baker of Adamsville, Alabama. "I had no idea I would get married when I came to Auburn," explained Beasley. "After I married, I doubled up on school work," he reflected. One semester he took a course that he "thought would be easy." The course involved public speaking and presentations. "I was very country and shy. I found it difficult talking in groups or to more than one person," added Beasley, "The best thing that ever happened to me as far as school was taking this course."
After his marriage Beasley, worked hard both in the classroom and at various jobs. A life-long sports enthusiast, Beasley, as an AU student, coached the Auburn Babe Ruth Baseball Team that won a championship. Something most people don’t know about him is that he sold mail order shoes as an Auburn student. To help support his new wife and his college career, Beasley landed the job selling shoes, a job at which he proved to be quite successful. He was so successful that he could have had a career in the shoe business. Instead, he chose to take his Auburn University education and use it as the foundation for his next career move - law school. His choice of going to law school at the University of Alabama was a little unusual since there were no attorneys in his family. "People have asked me why I chose law," he said. As a child growing up in Clayton, Alabama, he has memories of going to the courthouse after the farm work was completed. He recalls a time that his father took him to the courthouse to watch a trial. The presiding judge let young Beasley sit next to him during that day’s proceedings. Beasley completed his law degree in 1962. That same year he was admitted to the Alabama Bar Association and began practicing law.
"If the shoe fits, wear it." During the years 1970-1978, Beasley served as lieutenant governor of Alabama. His tenure as the second-highest elected office holder included a brief stint as governor for then-Governor George Wallace during his recovery from injuries received in an assassination attempt in 1972. After eight eventful years of service as Alabama’s lieutenant governor, he decided to remove his public servant shoes and to focus full time on his legal career.
After retiring from elected office, he re-entered the private practice of law representing plaintiffs and claimants in civil litigation. His outstanding work in the legal community continues today as he heads one of the country's leading law firms involved in civil litigation on behalf of claimants. Beasley and his firm have represented numerous people in their role as advocates for victims of wrongdoing.
During the past 25 years, Beasley has achieved profound success in his law career. He is well known as co-lead counsel in the record $11.9 billion punitive damages award against ExxonMobil Corp. on behalf of the state of Alabama in 2003. He has appeared as a lecturer throughout the country at numerous legal seminars and has been profiled in Time Magazine, Business Week and other noted publications. He was also featured in the 2003-04 editions of The Best Lawyers in America, a traditional database of more than 16,000 lawyers in 30 specialties, all of whom have been chosen as "the best" by their fellow attorneys.
Beasley Allen is the largest plaintiff's law firm in the Southeast whose offices are located in one city. Many in the business and law communities also are familiar with Beasley’s periodical, The Jere Beasley Report, which includes consumer information, legal updates, and commentary on life written by Beasley and his staff. As founding partner of the firm, Beasley has firm plans to keeping working for many more years. "I enjoy my work and plan never to retire," he said. One other area of his life that he plans to keep the same is his support of Auburn University sports. He enjoys attending events on campus with his children and especially his grandchildren, who are another source of delight for Beasley. His oldest daughter works as an attorney in his firm. His two younger children hold degrees from AU. "I hope my grandchildren will attend Auburn one day," he smiled. Beasley is delighted to have four grandchildren who live in Auburn so he has ample reason to schedule trips to the Plains. Auburn University has a proud past and a strong present. With accomplished alumnus, such as Jere Beasley supporting the College of Business, the best truly is yet to come for Auburn University!
At first, I was reluctant to include this article, but changed my mind after reading it for the second time. To be honest, I sort of like it. In any event, I hope our readers will indulge me on this one. I really appreciate Linda’s hard work and I must say I appreciate her doing this article.
I Really Messed Up On This One
I wrote last month about my family and soon after the issue was mailed, I got a message from my New Mexico cousin, Mark Beasley, who pointed out a few mistakes. It seems I really messed up this time. My great-great-grandfather was actually William Martin Beasley and not John Giles Beasley as I had indicated. I’m not real sure how this got mix up occurred, but it was definitely my fault. I also failed to include my daddy’s name, Browder Locke Beasley, when setting out the family tree. Even my brother Billy jumped me on that omission. For your information, William Martin Beasley and John Giles Beasley were brothers who married sisters. They came to Barbour County together and all are buried in a family cemetery at Pratt’s Station. I appreciate Mark, a retired Marine, bringing this needed correction to my attention. Hopefully, I learned my lesson!
All Of Us Should Strive To Do Our Best
It has always bothered me when folks with real talents and abilities don’t live up to their full potential. I learned early in life that each person has certain abilities and talents that can be used in whatever vocation or occupation that person happens to pursue. Regardless of the level of our abilities and talent, we can do well in whatever line of work we undertake. Simply put – we can be the best we can be at whatever we set out to do if we utilize fully the ability and talents God has given us. As a young fellow, I was a big fan of Vince Lombardi, who as most of you will recall, was the highly successful coach of the Green Bay Packers. Coach Lombardi made a lasting impression on me at an early age. I recall reading the following and I believe it’s still a good measure of how we should measure our life’s work.
The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.
That which Coach Lombardi, a most successful coach, stated was applicable then and it still is today. A commitment to excellence is a high, but needed standard. Perhaps the best example of a person reaching his full potential by being totally committed to excellence was the athletic career of my friend Bart Starr. As you may know, Bart grew up in Montgomery and attended Lanier High School. Bart was a very good quarterback for the Lanier Poets – but enjoyed a rather average career on the college level at the University of Alabama. Few folks at that time – with the exception of his parents, Ben and Lula Starr – believed a great pro career for Bart would follow. However, once Coach Lombardi took Bart under his wing – so to speak –things really changed for the Montgomery native. Bart soon became a truly outstanding quarterback for the Packers. In fact, in my opinion, Bart was one of the very best to ever play his position. Not surprisingly, Bart has been extremely successful in his business career after leaving football.
Bible Verse Of The Month
There were a number of suggestions this month, but I decided to use the verse submitted by one of our firm’s lawyers as his favorite. Gibson Vance, because of the work he does, says the following verse gives him daily comfort:
Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Amos 5:24 (New International Version)
When lawyers like Gibson go about seeking justice for their clients, if they will follow biblical standards, they will seek justice in the right way. Striving to live a righteous life must be our goal first on a personal level – and we must carry that effort over into the work place. I’m glad Gibson suggested this verse because it sets a goal for all of us who work in the court system. It’s a goal we should continuingly strive for. I must confess that achieving the goal in today’s climate in our court system is sometimes difficult, but it’s an absolute necessity that we strive to reach the goal. If we do, our clients will receive justice.
***SOME PARTING WORDS
Dean Albritton, the devoted wife of Pastor Walter Albritton, is one of our teachers in the Frazier Class at St. James United Methodist Church. Recently, in a lesson that dealt with God’s blessings to His people, Dean passed on an Old English Blessing to the class that I had never heard. I will now pass it on to our readers as a blessing for each of them and their families.
May your joys be as bright as the morning, your years of happiness as numerous as the stars in heavens, and your troubles as shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
That is a simple – but profound blessing – and receive it as a gift form God. May God bless each of you and your families in all of your endeavors. Remember that God loves you. He is faithful and true in every respect and is the only source of all our blessings and provisions in this life. That is an assurance that can’t be disputed and it is mighty good to know!
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