I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t look back on February 2017, and at least acknowledge that I took the bar, and passed. Passed! The first time! Because I’m not sure exactly how to explain it all, I’ll write this not from a timeline sense, but from a stream of consciousness sense.
It was May 19, 2017, around 12:15, and my family including parents, sister, grandparents, and best friend just sat down for lunch after my law school graduation. This was not how I thought graduation would have gone. Anything but uneventful.
Earlier in the week before graduation, three days or so before, I woke up to a voicemail from Dean Harrison. I had only said Hi to him passing in the hall, and had never even really met him. He was our new Dean, who I think came from John Marshall a year or two before. Because I was never at school during the day, and only for evening class, and didn’t care much for school politics, I had just never met him. “It’s Dean Harrison, call me,” he said. Literally, this is the LAST thing I wanted, a call from the Dean. See, I took the bar a few months earlier in February, and for the past month or so I’d been catching up on my marketing/restaurant job. What in the world? Is my transcript messed up? Frantically, I dialed him back. I was valedictorian, he said. He would like me to speak at graduation, and I had 3 days to write something. About that time, my Mom called. Apparently the Dean had called my parent’s house while trying to reach me, because that was an old number on file. “Why is he calling?!,” she asked. I tried my God-given hardest to keep the secret, because I wanted to surprise her and my family at graduation. But my secret-keeping abilities are like a screen door on a battle ship. And her voice was panicky, so I told her the amazing news, making her promise not to ruin the surprise for others.
I was nervous awaiting the guest speakers, but was focusing on soaking in everything. The day was nice, I would never see these people in this context again, and it was overwhelming. The speech went well. I ended it by quoting a line from Professor Robert’s class. In every class I kept a log at the top of my outline of “Sayings” by the Professor. It was a way to stay awake, but not lose engagement, much better than browsing the news or facebook, and it was SO entertaining. “I heard you were crushing it” she said in the context of a case. The commencement crowd roared with laughter as I repeated the line. Even Dean Harris said, upon me leaving the podium that he thought “I crushed the speech.”
“You passed!!!” exclaimed my sister sitting across the table a few minutes later. We all knew bar results would drop at any moment. I could see her glued to her phone in anticipation. There was no way in 4 hells I was going to ask her for the news. And suddenly there it was. I started balling. In a way everything had come down to that moment. Your name on the list, or not. It seems like an experiment in psychology if anything. Forget the studying and work that went into it. Waiting 3 months felt like an eternity. I just wanted to know one way or the other at that point. It felt like 20,000 pounds being lifted off my shoulders. Felt like I was floating. I couldn’t believe it. A chapter of my life was over that fast, and I had made it. Three and a half years on the line, and there it was, amazing.
Hilliard Law Firm is Savannah’s only community-based legal practice, interested in equal access to justice. This means we do lots of pro-bono (free) and low bono AFFORDABLE LEGAL WORK. Being socially-conscious also means we offer many common standard legal forms available for free download from a fun, simple, user-friendly site.
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Business formation is often the first major step for entrepreneurs establishing new companies, since your business structure can be used to secure financing, executives and other major pillars holding up a company. We can help you get a solid business structure in place so that you can provide your organization with the best possible chance of success.
Social Security Disability
If you have a medical condition that’s expected to last for a year or more, then you can apply for disability benefits. Social Security Disability pays benefits to an injured person or their family if they have worked long enough and paid social security taxes. We help clients navigate the process of obtaining Social Security Disability.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you are entitled to medical treatment, income benefits and compensation if you are left with a permanent impairment from your injuries. If you’ve been injured at your place of work, it is essential to have effective representation so you can receive the financial support you need to keep up with medical bills, loss of wages and more. We work with each of our clients to ensure they receive what is due to them in workers compensation cases.
Business deals sometimes go bad. Partners can end up on opposite sides of very large disagreements. Contracts that seem simple in the beginning sometimes end with unfulfilled expectations. We work with each of our clients to reach favorable resolution of disputes, sometimes without even going to court.
As upsetting as it may be to get a traffic ticket, it’s more than an inconvenience and an unexpected bill to pay. If you don’t contest the ticket, the fine could be just the beginning of the expenses you may need to pay, including higher insurance rates. If you’ve received a traffic ticket, you should talk to an attorney so you can understand your situation and the best way to proceed. We will work with you to understand what your options when faced with a traffic citation.
It is important to understand that personal injury cases can be very expensive involving medical expert testimony, legal fees, court reporters, investigators, and other costs. We understand how challenging this time can be, which is why we offer honest, reliable counsel to each of our clients working with them to create the best outcome in personal injury cases.
Disputes between landlords and tenants can take many forms — from upkeep and repair issues to non-payment of rent and potential eviction. In addition to looking at the terms of any rental agreement in place, being informed of your rights as either a tenant or a landlord can help save money and avoid frustration. Care should be taken when navigating a dispute with your landlord or your tenant. We work with clients to ensure that both sides attempt to uphold their side of agreements while protecting our client’s interests to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Wills and Trusts
Protecting those you love and the things you treasure. Estate Planning isn’t about how much money you have, it’s about protecting what you have during your life and for those you love after you’re gone. We work with clients to plan their estate in many ways including Last Will and Testaments, setting up Trusts, and giving you Estate Planning advice.
TJ Hilliard, Attorney
Savannah Law School valedictorian, T.J. Hilliard, gave the commencement address to the class of 2017, praising the uniqueness of the intimate law school. “Our part time class of just 10 of us is so small that after 4 years spent together, everyone knows everyone else’s quirks, which makes it a lot of fun, because we became family.”
Before entering law school, Hilliard earned a BBA with a Major in Marketing, and an MBA, both from Georgia Southern University. After, he joined his family business, Carey Hilliard’s Restaurant, and became the graphic designer for all print and web media. He designed the company’s website, receiving over 50,000 views per month, and developed its successful online ordering platform.
Enrolled in the law school’s evening program, while working full time for the restaurant business, Hilliard thrived while juggling both busy worlds successfully. No matter how busy Hilliard was during law school, he always showed depth of preparation, and was a frequent voice in his classes, going head–to-head with his beloved schoolmate, but so-called class adversary, Jack Butler. Hilliard’s commitment to class prep eventually showed as he earned the CALI Award for the top grade in Constitutional Law I, and Employment Discrimination-something he holds dear as his highest achievement.
During his time at Savannah Law he served as treasurer for the Maritime Law Society and was a member of the Federalist Society.
After graduating from law school, and passing the GA bar exam on the same awesome day of May 19, 2017, Hilliard decided to enter the local legal community, opening Hilliard Law Firm. Cheryl Lawrence, his friend, classmate, and future lawyer, will soon join Hilliard Law as Partner. They plan to focus their practice on small business law.
Office: (912) 225-6599 Ext-1000