The Old Judge has occasionally used this blog to brag about his six children, nineteen grandchildren or six great-grandchildren. Today, I want to tip my hat to one of the eight in-laws who also help to populate the Brennan clan; Marybeth’s husband, Jim Hicks. Jim is the Assistant Dean at the Savannah Law School.
Here is what a former student of his, Afghanistan veteran Dan Perez, posted about Jim Hicks on Facebook:
“Let me tell you about this amazing man and what he has done for my life. Back in 2003, he was a "funny guy" law professor of mine. We met during some odd circumstances (I wasn't the most successful in his course during my first semester of law school). However, there was something about this professor at the time that connected us. At the time, I was not sure why. Then in 2004, I deployed to Iraq. For some reason that I could not put my finger on at the time, I would write to him, emails and letters, usually about my difficulties in the war zone or my difficulties with certain "difficult" leaders. He would tell me to push through and continue to do the right thing, and I felt that I was successful. I returned from Iraq and returned to law school, and I thanked him for being an ear to my gripes. Then my struggles with reintegration occurred and after many, many beers, way too many beers and feeling sorry for myself, I flunked out of law school, in what would have been my final year of law school in 2007. During my desperation time, he tried to step in and right my ship for me with words of encouragement, and in the end at the time, pleading with me to slow down and give recovery and integration a chance. Despite my failures, he continued to support me, and over the next 5 years, pushed me, and pushed many, many others to support my readmission into law school, even speaking on the phone, long distance, to my parents. Even when I gave up, he wouldn't give up, and he wrote many letters and made many phone calls and personally addressed many administrators and officials at many meetings, all imploring them to readmit me. Even I gave up on myself ever returning to law school. I completed a deployment to Afghanistan, then earned my MBA, all because I had already given up on law school and working in the legal profession. I charted a different life. But he would not let me go. Upon my return from Afghanistan, 5 years after my academic dismissal from law school, he finally got me back into law school, through way more of his own efforts than any effort on my part. I thought about this today during my train ride into work, into Downtown Chicago, where I work at a large law firm, and earn the equivalent of a 6-figure salary (on an hourly basis). Because of him, more than anyone else, I am here working in Downtown Chicago. Even if I had not initially failed in 2007, and had successfully become a lawyer then, my only dream was to become an attorney in a minority neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, make a steady salary at a small office, and live happily ever after. I grew up in what, by any standard, would be considered a "ghetto" in Harvey, Illinois. I don't really know anyone that dreamed farther than that lifestyle, and by all accounts, even those small dreams would have been a major success for someone growing up in my situation, and I would have been very happy. But through his pushing, and pushing, and pushing, I eventually started pushing. Now, I sit at this desk, in this high-rise building in downtown Chicago, with a window overlooking an amazingly beautiful and large art sculpture surrounded by Federal Court Buildings, making way more money than I would have ever thought I could, or should, make, with the freedom of coming and going where I please, where the senior lawyers in my office look at my work product and analyses as subject-matter expert work, doing Spanish and Portuguese-language contract analysis on behalf of major worldwide corporate and government clients, I would not be here today if not for one man. Yes, there are many others who supported me throughout life and do so today, and they have helped me overall become a decent man. However, one man's efforts put me here in Downtown Chicago: Law Professor, now Law School Dean Jim Hicks. Thank you for pushing me into success. Thank you for not giving up on me, even when I did.”
And that, My Friends, is what I call a dedicated law professor. Who says the American Dream isn’t alive and well?