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As I edited these profiles of young, successful lawyers, I was struck that so many said they didn’t plan on joining the profession as they grew up.

Speaking for the readers who provided passionate nominations for our 14th “On the Rise” section, we’re glad these folks reconsidered their career goals. As always, we enjoyed getting an early look at attorneys expected to do great things in the law.

Another lawyer who didn’t set his course for where he is now is Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He made the “On the Rise” list in 2003, when he was executive counsel to then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Melton said then that he’d hoped to be a criminal defense lawyer until he clerked for the state Law Department, a position that led to a full-time job doing tax law there. He rose quickly, headed two law sections and had no plans to leave—until the governor came calling.

Then 36, Melton told us he’d given up making plans—a wise choice, because less than two years later Perdue tapped him for an open seat on the high court.

You’ll read much more about Melton, the recipient of our second On the Rise Luminary award, selected for confirming our choice and fulfilling the promise we saw in him 12 years ago. Check out associate editor Alyson M. Palmer’s interview with him.

On Sept. 16, our affiliates at ALM will honor the On the Rise class of 2015 and Melton—who will deliver a keynote address—during an evening event at the Peachtree Club.

As always, we are especially grateful to our readers who put so much effort into nominating the under-40s who have most impressed them. Thank you very much.

—Jonathan Ringel, managing editor