VOL. 125 | NO. 234 | Thursday, December 2, 2010
Memphis Law Talk
After Serving Country, Maj. Gen. Harvey Now Serves Law
RICHARD J. ALLEY | Special to The Daily News
Albert Harvey’s career longevity as an attorney is rivaled only by his 39-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserves.
Having entered the Reserves just out of high school and going on active duty after college, Harvey retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1997 with the rank of major general.
“I was kind of drawn to the military, I liked the concept. … Back in those days you pretty much had a military obligation even through there was no war going on at the time, there was still that obligation, so it was something you had to plan for and I just jumped in fairly early,” said Harvey, 71.
His influences for a military life began with his father, who had been in the Navy and was deployed to the Pacific during World War II, and a high school coach and band director who was in the reserves.
“My father was a dentist and said he would support me in whatever field I chose to go into, but please don’t be a lawyer or a Democrat, and I ended up both,” Harvey said.
Military life and leadership came naturally to Harvey and he saw the same leadership potential in the law profession. After initial military service, he went back to the University of Tennessee where he’d received his undergraduate degree to pursue a juris doctorate.
“As I was growing up, I was very impressed with the fact that lawyers seemed to be in the leadership position on most of the major issues of the day, either in the government or in business and I thought that that was something I’d like to do,” Harvey said.
He came to Memphis to clerk under Tennessee Supreme Court justice Larry Creson for a year before joining the small firm of Thomason Crawford & Hendrix, which would later become today’s firm of Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell PLLC, and grow to a staff of 34 attorneys.
“One of the lawyers in the firm, John Thomason, was, at that time, engaged in a lot of medical work and a lot of other litigation, and I got involved in that almost immediately and that became pretty much my practice from the very start,” Harvey said.
His time with the law firm has seen interesting cases in defending the professions such as physicians, architects, engineers and fellow attorneys. In 1999, he had the opportunity to represent R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a trial with big tobacco companies, an eight-week courtroom marathon that brought out-of-town lawyers and national attention.
During his time as an attorney, Harvey has been president of the Memphis and Tennessee bar associations, and served on the board of governors for the American Bar Association. As an officer with the Memphis Bar Association, Harvey worked to develop and publish a code of civility, something he sees as crucial for his profession and which he brings from his years in the Marine Corps.
“Trying a lawsuit,” he said, “is not going to war, there’s got to be a measure of civility about it.”
His military career is an asset in the burgeoning field of national security law. Harvey served as chairman of the ABA’s Law and National Security Committee for three years and began a course at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law last spring, teaching as an adjunct professor there.
“That has been interesting on a national level and, of course, fit in very well with what I did with the Marine Corps,” Harvey said. “Being interested in national security and being involved in it at that level, it was just a very nice fit to be also involved with the American Bar Association.”
When he isn’t at work at the law firm or with the ABA, Harvey and his wife, Nancy, enjoy traveling and visiting with their two daughters and six grandchildren. Retirement has yet to be broached for this soldier.
“I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy being with my law firm,” Harvey said. “One of the advantages of being in a profession like the practice of law is that you have the opportunity to do some things you enjoy and that you feel like that you’re serving the public and the profession, and I’ve had the opportunity to do that.”