As you look through this website and learn more about Ward Black Law, it is my hope that you see a group of people who share a culture of genuine concern for others, both professionally and personally. This is the very bedrock of what we do as a firm focused on protecting people’s rights. We are a powerful voice for our clients.
In many ways, Ward Black Law is a reflection of my values and beliefs. It’s who I am. So, as you become familiar with this law firm, perhaps you’ll be interested to learn more about the influences that have shaped my life.
I am a product of my upbringing. I was born in Kannapolis, a North Carolina mill town. My mother taught high school English at Concord High School, which I attended. My father owned a small chain of pharmacies, called Baxter’s, in Concord, Kannapolis and Hickory. Mother was born in Mount Olive, North Carolina (yes, the home of Mt. Olive and Cates Pickles) on a tobacco farm. Dad was born in Marshville, North Carolina, the son of the owner of the general store.
When the Depression came, my father and his sisters moved to Washington, DC, because there were no jobs in the little town in which they lived. My dad got a job at People’s Drugs, where he was a stock boy and clerk. That experience shaped him and eventually me. My father and some of his sisters returned to North Carolina in the 1940s. He and a brother started a small pharmacy in Kannapolis and added the others over time.
He didn’t believe in borrowing money. He taught me to save money. In fact, for years, I would go with him on the first day of every month to deposit $100 in the Landis Savings and Loan for my college fund. He never missed a month from the time I was born until my first day at Davidson College.
So, you see, I am the child of an entrepreneur. That, I think, has allowed me to embrace, albeit somewhat reluctantly, the role of a business owner and an employer. I have been a business owner now for more than fifteen years.
I am the child of an English teacher as well. In fact, most of the Wards (my mother’s maiden name) were teachers or school principals in eastern North Carolina. That heritage shaped me to be a critical proofreader of almost everything I see, and, I hope, to be a decent public speaker and teacher. Over time I have had many opportunities to speak, educating other lawyers and encouraging and motivating people of all ages in six states. The last thing I wanted to do when I went to Duke Law School was to be a litigator (someone who tries cases and speaks in public), but God had other plans. It is now one of the great joys of my life.
I was raised in church, always there when the doors were open. But when I was about 40 I attended Presbyterian Pilgrimage (a three-day spiritual retreat) and started taking international mission trips. Every year since then I have traveled to another country on a mission trip. I started with medical missions in Nicaragua and El Salvador with Mercy Mission teams (a Greensboro-based organization), and then went a couple of years with Habitat for Humanity to Honduras to build houses. My last trips have been to China and India with International Cooperating Ministries, a Christian non-profit that builds churches in third world countries for indigenous pastors who have sizable congregations, but no adequate building in which to meet (www.icm.org). My mission work has exposed me to the beauty of people and places across the globe, opening my eyes to a world I didn’t know existed and altering what I consider to be important.
My walk with God has strengthened over the years, and even though I considered myself a Christian my whole life, I don’t think I really “got it” until the last few years. During that time I have joined C12, a national organization for Christian CEOs and business owners (www.c12group.com). I invest one day a month in meetings with C12, wherein we focus on improving both the fiscal and ministry impact of our businesses.
My beliefs shape how I represent clients, and how I run our law firm. I believe that representing a client, another of God’s creatures, is a true honor. To take advantage of, mislead a client or fail to use our very best efforts to represent our clients well would be wrong. Honor and integrity in our business dealings are fundamental to our practice.
I believe that the employees we have are entrusted to us by God. We strive to provide continuing education for them in new legal knowledge and skills, to challenge them with responsibility and to provide a flexible, comfortable and nurturing place in which to work, including a healthy vacation policy. Many have worked for us for more than 15 years. We have sponsored mission trips for all staff and lawyers who wanted to participate. Two have worked on medical missions in Nicaragua and seven have built houses with Habitat for Humanity in Honduras.
The staff and lawyers give back to our community. We love our neighbors. We have shipped Christmas boxes through Operation Christmas Child”; we have worked at “Hot Dish and Hope” serving dinner to the less fortunate; we have adopted schools for “Fill the Bus” to provide school supplies to less fortunate public schools. During Christmas we collect toys with the United States Marines for “Toys for Tots.” We have a prayer team that prays for clients who request prayer. Our office hosts a business community prayer from 11 to 12 on the first Friday of each month.
Why? I know that all the honors I’ve received are not the result of my deserving them or being the best and brightest, but are because God has a plan for my life. I, as faithfully as I can, will try to walk that plan out. That will take service to my fellow man, including my clients, and sacrifice of my time, talent and money. It will take courage and faith. It will be full of challenges and disappointments, but will also be blessed with victories.
As long as I serve as a good steward of all that God has entrusted to me – clients, employees, talents, time, money, family, friends – with His help, I will accomplish what He wants me to do. He is the source of my hope, my peace and my purpose.
I named the business that owns our building “Isaiah 41 Realty” in honor of my favorite verse, Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not afraid for I am your God. I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” We, God’s people, are called to be fearless. With God, all things are possible. He will not leave us nor forsake us. He loves us – and that means me, and you. In fact, He loves the whole world.
This is who I am. That is why our firm is what it is.