Thomas White is an attorney at Adams and Reese and a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. He serves on the JAX Chamber ImpactJAX young professionals group board of directors.
What inspired you to become a lawyer? While I was an undergraduate, I interned for my local U.S. representative. I learned that I enjoyed the process of the law and government and that I enjoyed helping people. I regularly fielded telephone calls from constituents asking questions about legislative initiatives and providing their input or concern. I enjoyed hearing their different perspectives, and realized how greatly the law can impact people’s lives. Later I learned that a law degree would allow me to assist people struggling with legal matters in a way I never could have before.
Someone who inspires me: My brother. He might be younger than I am, but he is a testament to the fact that tremendous things can be achieved by giving 100%.
How do you relate your undergraduate degree to your practice of law? My undergraduate degree is in history. Law in the U.S. often is created by precedent from prior cases. To understand the law and identify legal principles that apply today, lawyers look at previous legal decisions, some more than a century old. Reviewing those cases provides a glimpse into history, not just about the particular area of law you are studying, but also at important issues being addressed at that moment in history.
How did you decide your practice area? During law school, I learned that I enjoy the courtroom environment and the quick thinking required to present an argument in court. While my business litigation practice spans many industries, one that I focus on is wine and spirits, a family business for me. My grandfather owned a liquor store outside of Washington, D.C.; my father works for a wine and spirits distribution company; and my brother works for a winery in California. I like to think of my effort to cultivate a wine and spirits legal practice as my own connection to the industry my family has worked in for generations.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would ... Discovery in civil litigation has become too onerous as a result of corporate data and information being stored electronically. Reducing the burden of electronic discovery would make the legal process more effective and affordable to litigants.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I am a board member of the Rotary Club of Riverside Jacksonville. In that capacity, I am heavily involved in our club’s annual Riverside Craft Beer Festival, which raises funds for the Rotary Foundation and Community PedsCare. I also am on the board of ImpactJAX, JAX Chamber’s young professionals group. I have met many great friends in both organizations, and each provides outstanding opportunities to give back to the community.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Finding a mentor is key. My mentors not only make me a better lawyer, they also make the practice of law more enjoyable. Hopefully one day I can pay it forward.