Celebrating 50 Years of Practice: An Interview of John Freeman
September 20, 2023 by Brown Fox
The State Bar of Texas recently honored John Freeman for fifty years of practicing law. Brown Fox Managing Partner Russ Brown sat down with Mr. Freeman to discuss his practice spanning six decades, serving in the Navy, and how he gained the nickname “Porkchop.”
The following are excerpts from that interview, slightly edited for brevity.
When and where did you begin practicing law? 1973 at Strasburger, Price, Kelton, Martin & Unis. I’ve worked at six law firms for over fifty years.
You and I both began our careers at Strasburger (now Clark Hill), as did Adam Fox and Tom Burton. I always appreciated my time there, but as time has passed, I’ve recognized that the mentorship and early courtroom opportunities were invaluable. What was your experience? I also had great mentors who taught and showed me how to take depositions, present witnesses and try a case. I was still a young lawyer when I left the firm, but in my time there I had taken many depositions and had tried about 5-6 cases in Dallas County District Courts by myself, which was an invaluable experience. My mentors there also taught me to not give up until I found something in research or by investigation that answered or resolved the issue. In addition, the firm emphasized the importance of being respectful, civil, and honest with opposing counsel and court officials, including the clerks and judges. All the above served me well during my years of practice.
Have you been a litigator your whole career? Yes. I chose to be a litigator. When I was in high school, I was in a car accident in Nashville due to the other driver’s fault, which led me to court as a witness. While waiting to testify, I was able to watch other cases. There was a city councilman who was a tall guy with a big voice who made a big impression on me that day. I remember how he conducted the trial in another case, which also involved a car accident. The lawyer asked the witness, “was the other car just easing along?” The witness answered “No.” “Was it traveling at a normal speed?” The witness again answered “No.” “Was he zooming?” the tall lawyer with a big voice emphasized. The witness answered, “Yes sir, he was zooming.” That simple, successful line of questioning played a role in my desire to be a lawyer. I enjoyed making presentations and arguing and I saw practicing law as an opportunity to get in front of people and talk and help people. I also did some appellate work which I thought was interesting and it gave me the opportunity to argue in writing and by oral presentation the facts and the law.
What is your favorite aspect about practicing law? I enjoy the camaraderie with fellow attorneys. I enjoy figuring out situations, taking facts and finding things out in an investigative way like a detective, whether through people or documents, and then constructing a timeline of what happened, and applying that to the law and to see the outcome.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a lawyer? If you want to be a lawyer, study to the best of your abilities. And then some!
We know you honorably served in the U.S. Navy prior to law school. Tell us about that. I graduated Baylor in June 1967, during the Vietnam war. I received a high draft number. However, I still wanted to serve and saw it as an opportunity to seek out something I wanted to do. I successfully obtained an appointment to the Navy Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, Rhode Island. I had to report to OCS only two weeks after graduating from Baylor. I drove from Waco to Nashville to see family, and with my map and bag I headed on to Newport. It was the first time I took a journey like that.
The Navy assigned me to Navy Supply School in Athens, Georgia after I graduated from OCS as an Ensign. I studied to be a Supply Officer, informally known as a “Pork Chop.” Dallas has another Pork Chop named Roger Staubach! After Navy Supply School, the Navy assigned me to the USS Duval County which was an LST (Landing Ship Tank, referred to as a “Long Slow Transport”) built during World War II. We spent a lot of time in Panama taking marines to the jungle to train and ship off to Vietnam.
Thank you for your service to our country! Did you learn anything in the Navy that helped in your legal career? Yes, absolutely! Although I was an officer, I was junior officer and had much to learn. There were enlisted men under my authority that without their help I would have been toast. I learned the importance of working with and treating people of a different status with respect, honor, and dignity.
Can you describe your current practice focus? Labor and employment, mostly employment. I am extremely proud to be a member of Brown Fox. The attorneys here are outstanding, the staff is outstanding, and the character and integrity of all members is noteworthy. I am proud to be a part of the Brown Fox team. And I really mean it.
Mr. Freeman has been married to his wife, Pam, for 54 years. Their son, Paschall, recently moved back to Texas to the immense joy of the Freemans. John earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University and bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. Mr. Freeman is an AV-rated attorney (Martindale-Hubbell) and serves clients in employment litigation matters across Texas. Learn more about Mr. Freeman and his practice by clicking here.