April 29, 2020 Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: John W. Clark, Jr.

by John W. Clark, Jr.

Tell us a little bit about your career.

I graduated from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1963 and began my career as a contract associate to a solo practitioner. Several years into my career I was asked to join a prestigious firm, specializing in oil and gas law, as a partner, mainly handling litigation and related problems. After 25 years I joined another firm and then started my own firm. I closed my firm in 1992 and became a solo practitioner. I now share office space with my attorney wife and pretty much do general transactional work. I maintain some long-term clients whom I have walked through the formation, management, and sale of their business and now are concerned with probate and trust matters. I guess I should also note my public service since 1983 as an Associate Judge of my hometown, University Park, which gives me a very interesting exposure to the very broadest criminal court dealing with arraignments, search warrants, restraining orders, bail issues, and trials.

What has been the highlight of your career?

I have enjoyed working with my clients, particularly some of the more colorful clients. I have also greatly enjoyed my involvement with the ABA and our local and state bar associations. In the ABA I was fortunate to have served on the Board of Governors, from 1970 through 1975, as the first representative of young lawyers. During my tenure on the Board we dealt with Watergate and its issues and I also saw the growing influence of the younger members of the ABA and their interest in public service. I have also served as Chair of the General Practice Section (now known as the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division), Chair of the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, and Chair of the Constitution, and Bylaws Committee.

If you could go back to the beginning of your career, would you have done anything differently?

No, I was lucky and have enjoyed the good, the bad and the ugly of my career. I don’t feel like I was ever overworked, abused, or wrongly treated. There were good days, bad days, and some days that were exceptional. I do regret some personal failures but there have been many more happy days.

What advice would you give to someone considering law school today?

I have one grandson who is a successful lawyer in Dallas and one, still in college, who is interested in pursuing a career in law. A career as a lawyer can be dull or exciting. A lot depends on what you do and how you do it. You can be independent or become a slave to the corporate world. I have never received a salary. I have always been either a profit-sharing partner or an “eat what you kill” solo. I was fortunate to be able to make these choices as a result of support from my family, my partners, and my clients.

What were the biggest changes you saw in the legal profession over the course of your career?

The practice of law has become a business for most lawyers. It was a profession. I rate integrity higher than wealth and see the profession losing its former traditional standards of ethics and integrity. It is sort of sad. Maybe I’m wrong.

When did you first become a member of the ABA and why did you decide to join?

I joined the ABA on the same day I was sworn in to begin my career. There was a booth set up in the outer hall and almost everyone joined the ABA as they exited the ceremony. I became involved a few years later to represent the Dallas Young Lawyers at the 1967 ABA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. After that I attended the ABA Annual Meeting in Hawaii and the rest is history.

Author

John W. Clark, Jr.  has an extensive background in business transactional law as well as oil and gas law. He practices in most areas of transactional law and also counsels clients on legal matters stemming from the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse, business and commercial law, business organizations, probate law, trust and estate administration, and pre-nuptial agreements.