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Editor’s note: Texas Lawyer asked lawyers across the state when they first realized they wanted to become attorneys. We believe such moments matter, because these are the ties that bind the legal profession together. In the coming weeks, Texas Lawyer will run these so-called “Atticus Finch Moments” in the newspaper’s “Out of Order” section. Contributors e-mailed their moments, which have been edited for length and style, and provided photos of themselves at the time of their moments. To share your “Atticus Finch Moment,” go to www.texaslawyer.com/finch. Talmage Boston, Shareholder, Winstead Sechrest & Minick, Dallas A child’s mind works like a sponge, absorbing whatever it gets near. Memories of my own sponge brain start when I was 6 years old in the summer of 1960. Our family had just moved into a new home in Houston’s Memorial section of town, and the boy across the street soon enticed me into the wonderful world of baseball cards. My parents started getting alarmed as they saw my sponge quickly filling itself up with the statistics of big-league players appearing on the back of their cards. Mother saw how the card-of-information format intrigued me. Trying to expand my horizons, she searched toy stores for other fields of study appearing in card form. For my seventh birthday on Oct. 1, 1960, she found a stapled booklet of cards that could be torn out along perforated edges, featuring the presidents of the United States, from Washington to Eisenhower. On the front was a colored picture of each chief executive, and the back was filled with a summary of his lifetime achievements. To mom’s delight, my sponge activated. From my new cards, I learned that most presidents had been lawyers before entering politics, triggering childhood conclusion No. 1: Becoming a lawyer can lead to success. As my mind devoured the new cards, in the fall of 1960, I also became mesmerized by that year’s presidential campaign, culminating with the Nixon-Kennedy televised debates, leading me to childhood conclusion No. 2: People who want to achieve high goals had better be able to win arguments. My passion for presidential history escalated after the November election, and over the next two years moved beyond trading cards and newscasts into the wonderful world of biographies. My favorite president was Abraham Lincoln. I remember reading a book in the second grade about his exploits as a trial lawyer and learning how his courtroom skills served him well in his political debates with Stephen A. Douglas. This prompted childhood conclusion No. 3: A good trial lawyer has the talents necessary to win arguments. Two events during the spring semester of third grade in early 1963 cemented all my conclusions. The first involved my parents taking me to see the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” that had just come out. Like everyone else in the country, I was affected by Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch, and he became my most unforgettable movie character ever. A few weeks later, in poring over a book on my second-most-favorite president, Thomas Jefferson, I read the following life-changing sentence: “As a boy, Thomas liked to argue, and, therefore, when he grew up he became a lawyer.” Knowing that nothing in life at the age of 9 made my juices flow like a good argument, and wanting to be like Lincoln, Finch and Jefferson produced childhood conclusion No. 4: When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer and try cases. And I did, and never lost focus of my goal from that moment on, pursuing it every step of the way through high school debate tournaments, college politics, law school moot court competitions, and still going strong in private practice as a civil litigator for the past 27 years.

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