Albany’s Brain Drain Problem and Doing My Part To Fix It

When I was a young boy growing up in Albany, Georgia, I would lie awake at night imagining myself doing any number of things to make my hometown the best it could be. I would imagine building high-rise buildings or bringing professional baseball to Albany. I grew up poor, so my dreams were big, even if somewhat unlikely. But, I still dream big, and Albany is still very much in my dreams.

I must confess, though, as much as I have wanted to take part in building my hometown up and helping the community become a safe and thriving community, I have been a part of the problem. You see, that young, poor boy who dreamed big had to take his chances and opportunities as they came. While I was climbing up the ladder toward reaching my own full potential, I always maintained a link to Albany. I attended school to be a Paramedic at Darton College. I commuted two hours one way to complete my bachelor’s degree at Valdosta State. Finally, I got accepted to law school in Jacksonville, Florida, and commuting was simply no longer an option. The plan was simple: I would finish up law school and come back to Albany to take my place in the legal community. But life happened, and it just didn’t happen that way. I can’t speak for so many of my old friends who did the same sort of thing, but what I know is that the Albany area is losing far too many intelligent and talented people, never realizing the benefits of developing these highly intelligent and talented individuals. We aren’t paying it back.

I want to pay it back.

I am a part of the brain drain problem that the Albany area has. Like so many of the friends with whom I grew up, I was molded by Albany. I was born and raised here. I know its history. Generations of my family lived and died in Albany. But I took the gifts I have and talents I honed in Albany elsewhere and didn’t return until now. I’m not in the business of regretting things, but I do see that those skills and talents that I have are potentially beneficial to my hometown. And I want to help. I see my hometown on the news suffering from the blight of poverty and crime. I see Georgia growing decade over decade while Albany is shrinking.

What I am bringing to Albany is my law firm: a boutique firm that is dedicated to closing the justice gap. That means providing affordable legal services to a town that, according to the last Census, had a population that is comprised of approximately 20,507 people living at or below the poverty line. And, as mentioned on the home page, 92% of low-income people have either no legal assistance or insufficient legal assistance on civil matters. That means poor people are left at the mercy of those who can afford lawyers. While courts across the country have made great strides in making sure that pro se, or self-representing clients, are treated fairly, one simple truth remains: if the law was easy enough to do it yourself, nobody would ever need lawyers.

My passion has always been public service. All the way back to when I was a volunteer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital to when I came into many of your homes in Albany during your darkest hours as a paramedic, my passion for fairness, justice, and public service has always been first and foremost in my mind. I don’t care about getting rich. What I care about is making sure that people get a fair shake. And with 20,507 people living below the poverty line, and 92% of those receiving no or insufficient legal representation, I can only conclude that there are a lot of people in Albany not getting a fair shake in our legal system. While this may not solve the brain drain problem in Albany, I will be doing my part.


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