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Willie Gary Speaks at Law School and Offers Words of Encouragement

Published: Friday, November 19, 2004

Updated: Sunday, August 10, 2008 00:08

Well-respected and revered trial attorney Willie E. Gary delivered an influential speech about success and staying humble to Howard law students in the school's Moot Court Room on Nov. 8. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America, in conjunction with the Student Bar Association, hosted the program that was entitled, "Dream Big Dreams and Refuse to be Denied."

Gary, a multi-millionaire attorney, focused on his success, the reasons why he is the person he is today, and the advice he has for future lawyers. "Trial lawyers come in a special breed and there's one quality that you got to have, and that is you [have] got to refuse to be denied and never be afraid," Gary said.

Among those who attended the event were former mayor of Atlanta Bill Campbell, former baseball All-Pro, Cecil G. Fielder and Gary's son, Sekou.

L. Chris Stewart, president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America Howard University School of Law Chapter, told the audience that Gary has won more than 150 cases worth in excess of $1 million each. One of these cases was one of the largest jury awarded in U.S. history. With these successes, he has earned the reputation as "The Giant Killer."

Gary urged future lawyers to seek the high moral ground. "No matter how great you think you are, no matter how smart you think you are, sometimes you are going to have to call on a power that's greater than you are," Gary said.

He also reminded students of the importance of remembering who they are and where they have come from. "You need to know that pretty soon, you will receive one of the most powerful degrees that anyone can have- the law degree. You are going to have that power to see wrong and make it right. You will have an opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless."

Gary continued to say, "Don't catch amnesia after you receive this degree. Quite frankly, you have an obligation to reach out to the less fortunate. I find that there's too many of us, no sooner than we make it, we put on our shades of indifference. My challenge to law students throughout this nation is to never forget."

Gary said that he is confident that all the students in the audience would become a success and told the students of his life as a son of sharecroppers. "We were poor and times were tough, but that didn't stop me. Born one of 11 in a little house the size of a three-car garage. But that didn't stop me. I wanted to be good at something. I wanted to be somebody."

Amos Jefferies, one of Gary's guests and a State Farm Insurance agent, mentioned that Gary touched the important qualities of becoming a success. "Expressing what it takes is very important," Jefferies said.

Gary also expressed his gratitude for what Black colleges were for him and other generations when he said, "They were there when there was no place to go. Talk about Black colleges because I was a product of one. Every school in Florida said no, you are not good enough. But there was a historically Black college in Raleigh, N.C. [Shaw University] that took a chance on this Black boy. I graduated from Shaw University and NCCU Law School, and I have lawyers working for me who graduated from Harvard, Yale and Princeton."

As a prominent attorney, Gary is noted in countless publications including Ebony, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and has been featured on various shows such as 60 Minutes and Oprah. Now, he continues to fight cases and is CEO of the Black Family Channel, a family-oriented network geared toward African-American families.

Gary closed his inspirational speech by stating: "You can be as great as you want to be. The road to success is always under construction. You have to control your own destiny. Set goals high and make it happen."

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