Smith Wallis & Scott March 2019

MAR 2019



I’VE BEEN BLESSED Reflecting on a Rewarding Journey

This month, we get to hear from James Wallis, one of the founders of Smith, Wallis & Scott. Mr. Wallis retired from taking new cases a few years ago, but he continues to be Of Counsel to the firm, providing his vast knowledge on probate matter, as well as presiding over these cases as a probate judge for Carroll County. Since the day we opened our doors at Smith, Wallis & Scott, we’ve had a very blessed practice. We try to do a good job, be fair, and represent the people of Carrollton and Georgia to the best of our abilities. The firm started in 1987 with my partner, Ken Smith, and myself heading the practice while continuing to work our corporate jobs. Another younger attorney, Chris Scott, joined us some time after. We’d gotten to know Chris through his stint as a summer intern when he was in law school and knew he was the perfect match, both in temperament and personality, for Ken and me. As soon as he got his bar number, we asked him to join our team. In 1995, Ken and I left our corporate employers and opened our firm in downtown Carrollton. Stepping out on our own was a little unnerving. I’d only worked for two employers my whole life, and it was something we weren’t sure of. But we’d also been practicing law long enough to know it would be unusual if we didn’t make it because we had a good client base to start with. We did what we considered to be good work for people, those clients sent us others, and we continued to grow. Our law professors told us

business would be built this way, and I’m not sure how many of us believed it, but it turned out to be true for us. Some years ago, I started doing volunteer work for our probate court, and it became my specialty. About 15 years ago, I was appointed as an acting judge for the probate court. Being on the bench gives you the chance to step back and evaluate the situations in front of you. The probate court in our county handles probate, guardianships, and conservatorships, and I’ve always worked in these areas and enjoyed it. Mostly, we’re there to protect people from themselves and others. Guardianship cases are sobering. It’s amazing how willing children are to help Mama and Papa out of their assets, but when they need help, the children are nowhere to be found. A lot of people take advantage of family members and friends when they can’t think for themselves. When those situations come up, probate comes in and appoints someone to take care of them. I’ve been blessed through the years to work with some outstanding attorneys; some have gone on to open their own firms, and others have left to work for the state. We’ve had some good people at Smith, Wallis & Scott. The attorneys there now are top notch. They have a strong moral compass, and I’m extremely proud to be associated with them. – James Wallis

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