While a young Jere Beasley initially harbored dreams of being a football coach, the law captured his interest early too. Today, the firm he founded as a one-man operation is one of the most powerful and productive civil litigation practices in the country.
When did you start the law firm that’s grown to become Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.?
In 1979. We moved to Commerce Street downtown in 2004. We now have four buildings on Commerce and an office in Atlanta.
What are the firm’s primary practice areas?
We have four separate sections, and each has expertise within its scope: personal injury and product liability; mass torts; toxic torts; and consumer fraud and commercial litigation.
What got you interested in practicing law?
My original plan was to be a football coach, but I got hurt in college and had to give up football, so I gave the idea of being a coach up too. After graduating from Auburn University, I decided to go to law school at the University of Alabama and then practiced in Tuscaloosa for a few years, then in Clayton, Alabama, where I’m from. Then, I decided to run for office. I served as Alabama’s lieutenant governor for two terms [1971-1979], and then ran for governor in 1978 but was handily defeated. That put me right back into practicing law. I can’t say that this is why I became a lawyer, but it is a really strong memory: After they’d finish working their crops, farmers in Clayton, including my dad, would sometimes hang out at the courthouse. My dad took me with him one day. I think I was around 12. For some reason, the judge called me up and sat me by him at the bench, and I observed part of a trial from there. I so vividly recall that. I do still think I would have been a good football coach, though.
Why did you move into becoming a plaintiff’s attorney?
In law school, I realized I wanted to practice some kind of law that dealt with people. I worked for a defense firm in Tuscaloosa and realized that was not for me. When I was in Clayton, I moved into representing people, and that evolved into what I do now. Everyone who comes to see us usually has a severe problem: the death of a loved one, a large financial loss or major injury, all from some wrongdoing that affected them. When you are able to achieve some good result for them, there is great satisfaction in knowing you’ve helped them.
In the many cases you’ve been involved in, is there one that stands out?
A case that involved KUBOTA tractor company. One of their tractors rolled over and killed a man, one that didn’t have the same safety features they do now. He died a tragic death, and his family hired us to look into it because the company wouldn’t even return their calls. In the end, we won that case, and as a result, the company made changes that made their products better and safer for everyone. That got my attention, made me realize we could have a positive impact on people far beyond just our clients. I look back over the years, at the hundreds of clients we directly helped but also the changes made that benefit everyone, changes that would not have happened without the court system.
With your multiple obligations, why be so involved in Chamber?
Our Chamber has changed dramatically over the years. It is now very proactive, like getting involved in public education. It also does such great work selling Montgomery, and that’s key, since we are at a crossroads now. We are at a point where we either go forward or we regress. We have an opportunity to really push the city and area to reach its full potential.
What are your interests outside of work?
I don’t have any real hobbies, but I’m an Auburn fan, and I’m very interested in my wife’s businesses, Pickwick Antiques and Montgomery Antiques & Interiors. She knows a lot about antiques; I don’t. But it’s fascinating to me. I love to go over to those places, fiddle around with things. They fix them after I leave. We’re actually putting a second location of Montgomery Antiques & Interiors downtown on Dexter Avenue.
During his first term as Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor, Jere Beasley served as acting governor for 32 days when Governor George Wallace was shot in Maryland and out of the state recovering.