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February 27, 2023 Did You Know?

When I was a New Lawyer: Robert J. Grey, Jr.

By Robert J. Grey, Jr.
Robert J. Grey, Jr. then and now.

Robert J. Grey, Jr. then and now.

What inspired you to become a lawyer? And what did you do prior to becoming a lawyer?

Oliver Hill, a classmate of Thurgood Marshall, inspired me to be a lawyer through his civil rights work.

Before becoming a lawyer, I worked as a bricklayer’s assistant, an office supply salesman, a traveling salesman for Chapstick, and I was an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Once I became a lawyer, I stopped practicing law for a while to be Chairman of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, appointed by the Governor, then returned to the practice of law.

How did you become involved with the ABA?

I was invited to be on the Board of the Young Lawyer Conference of the Virginia State Bar, then became President, and that was my introduction into the ABA.

What is the benefit of a new lawyer becoming active with the ABA?

The profession is built on relationships, and there is no better place to develop those relationships than the ABA.

What early career practices led to your success?

Learning to be patient and observant.

What early career mistakes did you make, and what did you learn from them?

I did not develop confidence fast enough.

What is your advice for dealing with difficult partners, colleagues, or counsel?

It is not about you. Take the focus off of yourself, and you become more aware and develop empathy.

What is your advice for a new lawyer seeking to acquire, retain, and nurture client relationships?

My advice is to build relationships, continue to nurture the relationships you build, and invest in those relationships, with no expectation of any return.

What challenges you the most?

Getting the profession to realize its full talent potential.

What gives you the most satisfaction?

Making sure I am passionate about what I am doing.

What are your future ambitions for the next 5 to 10 years?

  • I want to help expand the LCLD influence.
  • I want to contribute to the development of the next generation of legal leaders.
  • I want to help make the profession more equitable and inclusive.
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By Robert J. Grey, Jr.

Robert J. Grey, Jr. is the President, Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD).