Lawyer; Co-founder, Hipp Tripper
Bachelors, Juris Doctorate
From the book, 21 Questions for 21 Millionaires: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Success, By Brandon Pipkin.
B:Your father was a lawyer?
My father was a lawyer and his father was a judge. My eldest brother is a lawyer.
B: This runs deep in the family?
Yes. My daughter Lori is a lawyer. We've been lawyers for a long time. My brother Alec says, ‘I get up every morning and get on my knees and thank God for inventing the law because I have no merchantable skills.' I feel much the same way.
B: When did you know that you were going to pursue law?
I didn't so much know, as it was foreordained. My father was a lawyer and my older brother who was four years older than me was headed in that direction.
I grew up in a family of six. I was number two and we had a very matriarchal household. In south Louisiana, which is very Catholic, where I was born, the women run the households and it was simply foreordained that I was going to be a lawyer, my brother was to be a lawyer. My younger brother was allowed to be a doctor.
I really gave it no thought, it was just one of those things that was going to happen.
I even recall my mother taking me to the college that she picked and dropping me off at the dorm and saying, “I'll see you in four months.' I really never had this big vision of being a lawyer and dramatic in the courtroom kind of thing. I just went forward.
I graduated from college in 1969 and that was the year of the first (Selective Service) draft numbers. My draft number was seven. My mother said, ‘You always have to be in the Top 10, don't you?'
(It was a foregone conclusion that I would be drafted). Instead, I volunteered for the Army and wound up in an officer training program that allowed me to become a 2nd Lieutenant but also go to law school. After which I was going to be a regular military; it wasn't a JAG program. I had an opportunity to go to law school in the middle of Vietnam.
I was assigned to the ROTC unit at LSU Law School. After law school I had the opportunity to clerk for a Louisiana Supreme Court justice so I got to do that before the Army finally got their hands on me. By then they had ended the war and they didn't need us, so they let me go relatively quickly. As I recalled they trained me and the day I graduated from training they let me go.
B: Did you get some marketable skills from the Army at least?
I did. In fact, I could have stayed in the Army. I received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross medal (I was the outstanding 2nd Lieutenant graduate in the 3rd United States Army that year) on the 50-yard-line of the LSU-Ole Miss football game. I had a future in the Army. I was a good soldier, but it wasn't what I wanted to do and I had this opportunity to clerk for the Louisiana Supreme Court, so away I went.
I clerked for one year for Justice Al Tate, the smartest, brightest, most humane person God ever put on this earth. After that I came home to work for my dad. It was my father, my big brother, and me.
All the brothers got nicknames in college: Stick, Twig, Branch, Stump and Root. I realized if I stayed there I would always be Twig, so I left and went to a Lafayette and began practicing defense law there with a defense firm.
I was defending insurance companies. There was a lot of heavyweight litigation in south Louisiana at the time because the off shore oil business was very dangerous.
A lot of the work was maritime law, so there was a higher quality bar. Federal courts are generally of a higher standard; they push harder, they demand more of you than state courts. I got to practice a high level of practice in Louisiana, for 30 years.
To read more from 21 Questions for 21 Millionaires, go to http://www.21for21.com/?p=1049.