Birmingham School of Law alumnus Andrew Hairston was recently elected Circuit Judge for DeKalb and Cherokee counties. Because there was no Democrat opposition in the primary runoff, he will not be on the November ballot and will take office in January 2019.
Hairston says he never considered being a lawyer as a young man. “I became interested in the law as a career because of the state of our society and its departure from our rights under the Constitution and its protection of personal liberties,” he says.
Hairston chose Birmingham School of Law for his education because of its affordability and because it accommodates those who need to work while attending school. “In my opinion, BSL is the only law school that accommodates people in the real world. If you aren’t wealthy or have scholarships, it’s hard to afford the traditional law schools,” he says. “For people like me who had a job, a family, or other responsibilities while attending school, BSL also provides the flexibility you need. I’m proud to be an alum of BSL.”
While studying at Birmingham School of Law, Hairston clerked for a local law firm during the day and attended classes at night. Since becoming an attorney, he has practiced law in his own firm in DeKalb and Cherokee counties in Alabama for a number of years. He also has served as the judge in Fort Payne and Geraldine, a prosecutor for Sylvania, and the public defender in Rainsville. “I’ve had a successful law practice, beginning as an associate attorney with the law firm of White, Arnold, and Dowd in Birmingham for two years. I have worked in my private practice for a number of years and have enjoyed it. I will close my practice at the end of this year and will be sworn in as a full-time Circuit Judge in January. I look forward to this new phase of my career.”
Most traditional law schools teach critical thinking but don’t teach you how to be a lawyer, Hairston says. “I appreciate the practical knowledge and advice I received from actual attorneys who practice law during the day and teach at Birmingham School of Law at night,” he says. “To this day, I still remember things that John Bodie taught me about civil procedures. We also received tips on how to make sure your clients’ rights are being protected and their best interests pursued.”
Hairston grew up in a family that works to protect the law. His father, brother, and brother-in-law are police officers. “I took the other side, so I guess that makes me the black sheep of the family,” he jokes. “My wife and I have a 6-month-old child, and I am enjoying a career that was made possible, in large part, by the affordable education I received at BSL. If I had a lot of law school debt to pay off, it might not be as enjoyable. If someone is looking for a good law school, wants to practice in Alabama, and needs to attend school at night to accommodate a job or other commitments, I would never recommend any school but BSL.”