Page 32 - Briefcase V35 Number 1
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AL UMNI  NEWS   AL UMNI   NEWS

            ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT



            FAMILY DYNASTY

            After making history in 1970 as the first African-American to graduate   pass the bar exam. I was
            from the University of Houston law school, Jim Lemond went on to a   fortunately able to do that.”
            lengthy legal career rooted in public law and policy.  After Lemond graduated,
            He opened the door for many others at the law school, including four   his older brother, Xavier,
            members of his family.                                 decided to follow him into
            Lemond credits his parents for instilling education and faith as   the law, graduating from
            the basics upon which to establish a strong work ethic for him and   the UH law school in 1973.
            his nine siblings as they grew up in an all-black community in east   Xavier Lemond passed
            Harris County.                                         away on Jan. 20, 2017, at
                                                                   the age of 75.
             “The foundation is what’s important, and my father believed in family
            as the foundation,” Lemond said. “My dad finished the third grade. He   Like his brother, Xavier
            was able to read, write and communicate. My mother never went to   Lemond was a trailblazer
            school in her life. She wasn’t educated, but for her, the key to success in   — he was the first black law
            life was education. She made sure that all 10 of us were educated. It’s   student inducted into the
            what kept us together.”                                school’s honor society, the
                                                                   Order of the Barons.
            Lemond recounted the childhood routine he shared with his five                                  Jim Lemond, top, and Xavier
                                                                                                                   Lemond, bottom
            brothers which started each morning delivering newspapers and ended   Xavier Lemond was appointed to the UH Board of
            each night with the reciting of the rosary.            Regents in 1984 by Gov. Mark White, serving until
                                                                   1991 as chairman of the Art Acquisition Committee
            “When I was in the third grade, my dad took over the delivery of the   and the Building Committee and vice-chairman of the
            Houston Post newspaper,” Lemond said. “At 4:30 a.m. every morning,   board. He also was instrumental in preserving the law
            the boys were up delivering the newspapers. After we finished the   school's evening program, having attended night classes
            newspaper delivery, we would go serve mass at 7 a.m. as altar boys.   during part of his time at the school.
            When we got to school at 8:30, we had already had a full day.”  “I have always come back to the law school and worked
            More duties were assigned to Lemond and his brothers when their   with the black law students to help them understand
            father returned home from his job at the Shell refinery.  the perspectives that I had, whatever they may be. I feel
            “We had all kinds of things we did,” he said. “We did any kind of job   a commitment to do that,” Jim Lemond said. “I have
            imaginable. We would eat dinner, and he’d say, ‘OK boys, let’s go.’   had good relationships with former professors, former deans, but my
            When we’d finish, my mother would make sure we all took baths. Then   brother took it to a whole different level. He was a brilliant guy and a
            we’d kneel down and say the rosary at 10 p.m. every night. The next   great student. He led an incredible life.”
            morning, it would start all over.”                     In addition to his brother, Xavier, Lemond’s son, Scott, attended the
            Delivering newspapers turned reading and writing into a lifelong   Law Center, graduating in 1994. Scott Lemond also met his wife,
            passion for Lemond, and he participated in spelling bees and writing   Connica, at the Law Center, where she was a member of the Class of
            competitions as a young student. After studying engineering at the   2001. Jim Lemond’s daughter, Lisa Lane, works at the Law Center as a
            University of Houston, Lemond’s interest in the field waned. He   program manager for the communications and marketing department.
            wondered if his love of words could translate into another field.  “I’m mindful of our family connection to the Law Center every day,”
            “My technical background served me extremely well. I’m firmly a   Lemond said. “My brother went here, and I like the idea that my son
            believer that anybody who majors in the sciences or related fields are   came here, and he is a very talented lawyer thanks, in part, to the
            well prepared for the discipline necessary to get to law school,” Lemond  Law Center.”
            said. “I depended on that, but I still loved writing. I thought maybe being   Lemond retired from the active practice of law in 2009, but it didn’t
            a lawyer might be closer to what I wanted to do.”      stick. He currently works as a special counsel on a limited practice in
            Lemond entered the UH law school as its first African-American   the Harris County Attorney’s Office, overseeing engineering contracts
            student in 1968, with the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the   and assisting young attorneys.
            Vietnam War serving as a backdrop.                     “I’m a failure at retirement,” he said. “I’ve tried it, and it hasn’t worked
             “While there were challenges associated with being the only black   successfully. I spend my time really teaching and attempting to mentor
            student attending the law school at that time, I didn’t let that deter me,”   young lawyers in the business of government, because you’re not going
            he said. “I said, ‘I better focus on what I’m doing.’ I didn’t disengage   to get that in law school. You have to live through that. To understand
            myself, but I did focus on the task at hand, because there are three steps   how law works within government is so different than much of what
            to becoming a lawyer: get into law school, get out of law school and   you learn in law school.”


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