Homegrown attorney returns to W-S to help community

Brian Thompson, attorney-at-law, comes home to help his community.

Homegrown attorney returns to W-S   to help community
July 21
13:57 2022

Parents tell their children they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, including being a doctor or lawyer. As you age, you realize how difficult it is to actually become one of those professionals. Brian Thompson accepted the challenge and is now a practicing attorney right here in his hometown of Winston-Salem.

Thompson attended Parkland High School and Carver High School and graduated from Parkland in 2009. He attended UNC Pembroke on a wrestling scholarship and initially wanted to get into real estate as a profession. It wasn’t until after graduation that being an attorney became a goal.

“When I graduated from Pembroke, a lot of people from Winston would go to Charlotte looking for work and I was out there working for about a year and actually took one intro to law class at UNC Charlotte and I met a professor there and he told me that I should try out law school,” Thompson said about how the idea of becoming an attorney came about.  

“I thought about it and said I don’t know if law school is for me. But I thought about it, prayed about it, and talked to some family and friends and I gave it a shot. I actually ended up going to law school and when I was in law school, I started reading and watching Johnnie Cochran. He was the man and he inspired me so much and it was so cool to watch a Black lawyer to see what he could do, and it gave me confidence because I really didn’t know any Black attorneys growing up.”

Thompson attended Nova Southeastern University for law school and quickly realized this was the profession for him. As an athlete, Thompson always enjoys a challenge and law school was exactly that.

“Being an athlete, you always have that competitive nature in you and being in a job that didn’t challenge me didn’t quite sit right with me,” he said. “The law, on the other hand, is so fascinating and is such a powerful tool and learning how to yield that tool can make huge differences and so that was something that really intrigued me.”

Jumping into the world of law was tough for Thompson, but he still managed to do very well in his classes his first semester. That was the momentum he needed to show himself that he was up for the task.

“It was very challenging … I think I was in the top 10% of my class and that gave me some confidence,” he said about his first semester in law school. 

For Thompson, being in law school reminded him of when he wrestled. He says in law school he felt somewhat isolated because of the nature of the courses. His family and friends provided the necessary support when he needed it.

“During law school it kind of felt like wrestling. You have your team but it’s a one-on-one sport. If you don’t put in the time, if you don’t put in the work, you’re not going to survive,” he went on to say.  

“Being able to call back home – and I grew up in the church so being away from home and your church was tough –  calling home to the family for their support because sometimes you feel overwhelmed but having that support system is always helpful.”

Graduating from law school was just the first step for Thompson. He says passing the bar exam in 2018 was the true test for him. Thompson passed the bar exam on his first attempt and scored so highly on the test he can become licensed in any uniform bar state.

After passing the bar, Thompson started working for a law firm in Charlotte.  He decided to focus on personal injury after interning for several firms while in law school because he enjoyed that area the most.

“As a PI (personal injury) attorney down in Charlotte, I was working at a huge firm and they let me try cases right away,” he said. “Once I got licensed, a couple months after that I was trying three or four civil jury trials for personal injury cases. Getting in there and getting that trial experience and seeing how much of a challenge it is made it an easy call for me compared to other areas of law.

“Business is good in those other areas. You get to negotiate and be in those fancy conference rooms and stuff, but there is nothing like getting out there in front of that jury and arguing that case.”

Thompson made his way back to Winston-Salem earlier this year to open up his own law office. He says there was always an internal push for him to return home and he finally listened.

“There was always something in me that was calling me to come back home,” he stated. “I had a really good job at a big firm making some good money down there and that was tough to leave, but the biggest thing was down there I was doing really well, but most of my clients were people that I really didn’t know.  

“Coming back home, I would be helping a lot of friends, family and the community people that I know. So, being able to come back home and help the community that basically helped me rise up and helped me get in this position, to be able to help them is a great and rewarding thing for me.”

Since arriving back in Winston, Thompson says he has been flooded with cases, which has exceeded his expectations. He also has received a lot of business from individuals who knew him and his family growing up.

One of the biggest advantages for being back in Winston-Salem for Thompson is the fact that he can inspire other young Black boys and girls to follow their dreams and let them know they can become a lawyer if they choose to do so. 

He doesn’t look upon himself as a role model, so to speak, but knows that he can encourage young people to be whatever they want to be.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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