ATLA Salutes...

Charlie Boyd


Charlie Boyd learned a lot about "lawyering" from an unlikely source, the legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

The year was 1960 and Boyd was a freshman and redshirt player at the University of Alabama. He said Bryant had a tremendous presence on the field, which, in other words, means "I was very scared of him."

"It was rough but it was good training," Boyd said. "He taught me tenacity, not knowing how to quit and believing in your self."
 When asked if Bryant could still walk on water, Boyd quickly answered: "He could if he wanted to
."

Boyd said the lessons he learned from Bryant would be valuable to any lawyer, but especially a plaintiff's lawyer.

"We do a lot of workers compensation work and it is very rewarding because you assist an injured worker in achieving justice and a favorable settlement when all the cards are really stacked against him or her," Boyd said. "Plaintiff's law is an area where my heart is because I represent people not corporations."

Boyd was the first lawyer in his family of "teachers and preachers", but said his family was very supportive when he chose to attend Cumberland Law School.

"We believed there were four callings," Boyd said. "Being a preacher, a teacher, a lawyer, or a doctor because they are all callings to serve mankind."

Boyd lived in Gadsden until he was 13, when his family moved to Atlanta in order for his deaf brother to attend a special speech school. He returned to Gadsden to practice law, and has never left.

"When I came back I joined the firm of Hawkins, Rhea, Keener and Cusimano et al," Boyd said. "I was the et al."

The founding partner in the firm, George Hawkins, along with Francis Hare, Sr. co-founded what we now know as the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association.

Boyd, 64 is no longer an et al.  He currently is a senior partner in the firm of Rhea, Boyd, Rhea & Coggin in Gadsden.

Over  the years, Boyd said he has seen the practice of law change. He says the volume of business has increased, the number of settlements as opposed to trials has increased and that plaintiff lawyers now face an "uphill battle against prejudice and unfair bias against plaintiffs."
 
Those changes, he says, "are a story" on their own.

When he is not practicing law, Boyd enjoys skiing, gardening , fishing, and working within the community.

He has a summer garden and gives tomatoes, corn, okra, and peppers to friends, people at the Etowah County courthouse, and the local spouse abuse center, of which his wife Vicki is an avid supporter.

He also attends Sunday school at the local Gadsden Baptist Church, and church services at the nearby Hokes Bluff Methodist Church, where his garden is located. He did a short stint on the Gadsden Theater Board and had a bit part in "Inherit the Wind.'

He and Vicki have two children, Cam Clayton, who is on a shooting scholarship at a Missouri University ---that is shotguns, not cameras ----and a daughter, Tray, who teaches biology at the University of South Alabama. Tray has a five-month-old, Lawson Hamil.

Lawyering has stayed in the family. Tray's husband is a lawyer in Mobile, and Boyd's niece, Joy, is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and is presently a clerk in a Georgia U.S. Federal Judge's office.

Boyd says he has had good life, as a football player, parent, community supporter and a trial lawyer. He almost had a short marriage when he misspelled his wife Vicki's name on their marriage certificate, and says; as he grows older his football career grows much more illustrious.

"The older I get the greater football player I become," he said. "I was red-shirted at Alabama and 10 years from now when I am telling this story, I may be an All-American."

Ten years from now, no one will have to exaggerate the reasons Charlie Boyd was  selected a "Champion of Justice". And ten years from now he will still be a "Champion of Justice" for the ATLA staff which will still be depending on him to buy all the extra tee shirts at their seminars.