The following article by Morgan McGarvey appeared in the March 2015 issue of Bench & Bar, a publication of the Kentucky Bar Association.
In the beginning, young lawyers enriched the public life of Kentucky.
They still do.
Our first governor, Isaac Shelby, was all of 29 when elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He served twice as Kentucky’s chief executive and still found the energy to have 11 children. So much for the notion that you can’t do both politics and family.
Shelby’s current successor, Steve Beshear, was also 29 when he first interrupted what would become a long and successful legal career to get himself elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives. He may not have met Shelby’s mark in offspring, but he has held more state offices – a total of four. He insists young lawyers can and should get involved in politics.
One of his University of Kentucky buddies also thought about becoming governor. First in his law school class and offered a prestigious clerkship with the chief judge of the U.S. Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Sheryl Snyder chose among competing offers, accepting the one made by the Louisville firm of Wyatt, Grafton & Sloss. He also im- mediately got involved in U. S. Rep. Ron Mazzoli’s re-election campaign.
As Snyder describes it, “Like a lot of campus politicians, my undergraduate aspirations were obvious… my career plan was to return home to Owensboro and enter local politics and from there state politics. Among my friends from campus politics with similar goals were Winston Miller and Steve Beshear. One of us succeeded!”
Snyder is happy with the choices he made on his way to becoming one of Kentucky’s most prominent, successful and connected attorneys, “While I have been intimately involved in campaigns – Paul Patton for Governor, Charlie Owen for Senate — and my practice has included high-stakes cases for governors, I have derived more personal satisfaction from civic endeavors, such as the Unity campaign for consolida- tion of Louisville-Jefferson County government, the original Citizens for Better Judges effort to improve the quality of the bench, and the campaign for gubernatorial succession amendment.”
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd reaches back to Justice Louis Brandeis for his view on lawyers in civic life. Brandeis insisted, “In a democracy, the most important office is that of citizen.”
“As lawyers,” Judge Shepherd argues, “We all deal with clients faced with problems of government regulation in an increasingly complex world. We struggle to help clients navigate the increasingly complex world of government regulation. The legislature is where the rules of the road for our society are adopted. In our world, it is increasingly important that those rules reflect the need for common sense and flexibility. For that reason, we need more lawyers involved in the legislative process.”
Often in Frankfort it’s watchdogs of the public interest versus lapdogs of the special interests, which prompts this plea from Judge Shepherd for more young attorneys to get involved:
“The census of lawyers in the General Assembly is declining, partly as a result of the increasingly full time nature of legislative work, and partly because of the increased difficulty of political campaigns with all the negative advertising and the need for constant fundraising,” Judge Shepherd said. …
Morgan McGarvey’s practice focuses on litigation, drawing upon experience he acquired as a Special Assistant Attorney General in Kentucky and in Washington D.C. as a staff member for Congressman Ben Chandler. He was elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 2012 and represents the 19th District (Louisville).