Chris Lewis | General Counsel at Edward Jones

Civil Rights Heroes | Betting on Yourself | The Buttermilk Group | The Reverse Commute | St. Louis Community & Board Service | Jamaica to NY | Books on the Black Experience | Love for Music & Golf 


I interviewed Chris Lewis | General Counsel at Edward Jones on Friday, March 26th, 2021.

We started the episode with Chris sharing how different Civil Rights attorneys inspired his own journey to become a lawyer.  We discussed his time at Columbia Law, his choice to jump into BigLaw, and his pro bono work done at various firms. He shared his journey as a Black man in the predominantly white male legal field. He shared how he came to be the GC of Edward Jones. We discussed DE&I within Edward Jones as well as the creation of the Buttermilk Club. We spoke about changes he’s seen over the last 14 years. Chris then shared thoughts on leadership and who has inspired him. We spoke about his love for the St. Louis community and his service on various boards. We also discussed his immigration story, how he met his wife, and his deep love for music, golf, and the Mets. 

Here are some highlights of my interview with Chris Lewis:

There’s no feeling like the feeling of making a meaningful difference for someone else.

The reason for becoming an attorney crystallized for me as a young man learning about the civil rights movement and the heroes of that era.

Charles Hamilton Houston’s foresight was remarkable in strategizing case after case around the large mosaic of how to dismantle the system of inequity starting in the 1930s.

I bet on myself to go to law school and had to leverage a lot of debt so decided to join a law firm. I was able to identify firms that really embraced the notion of making a positive impact and had commitments to the community.

Sometimes, many times, in my career, I’m the only person in the room of color. I have been really blessed to be surrounded by people who are filled with integrity, eager to learn, and open to different perspectives. 

I wasn’t focused on becoming General Counsel. My focus was on how to do a really good job, how to increase value for my clients, and just the joy of working with my dear friend and colleague. 

Diversity is impacted by hiring. Equity and inclusion come from how we develop, how we promote, and how we engage in that work.

Leadership is integrity, leading with purpose, building a team, and being inspiring to the best extent you can be.

One of the invaluable lessons of leadership that I’ve learned from some of the folks that have mentored me is you have to find your own way. I picked up bits and pieces from all of the leaders that I’ve watched and admired and I’ve tried to adapt them to myself.

When I came in-house it was difficult to do pro bono litigation matters. For me, that passion, which has never diminished, pivoted to how to serve in community organizations.

Links referred to in this episode:

Chris Lewis | LinkedIn Profile

Chris Lewis | Edward Jones Website Bio

Edward Jones | Website

Thurgood Marshall | US Courts Website

Constance Baker Motley | US Courts Website

Charles Hamilton Houston | NAACP Feature

Civil Rights Law Society | Columbia Law School

Kristen Clarke | Lawyers Committee Feature

Jim Tricarico | Duane Morris Feature

National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) | Website

Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) | Website

Beth Dorfman | LinkedIn Profile

Penny Pennington | LinkedIn Profile

Walter Mosley | Author’s Website

Marlon James | Macalester College Bio

A Brief History of Seven Killings | Marlon James

Subscribe to the Podcast 

iTunes  |  Stitcher  |  Google Play | YouTube | iHeartRadio

We Would Love your Feedback.

Click Here to let us know who to Interview and the Topics that interest you most right now.

Please leave a review on iTunes, to do so Click Here

Audio Transcription 

***To Download the PDF Transcript, click here*** 

Greetings, friends. This is Chris Batz, your host of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. In today’s episode, I spoke with the General Counsel of the nation’s largest financial brokerage by the number of brokers and branch offices. We discussed his passion for diversity, equity and inclusion, and how the dismantling of the Jim Crow laws inspired him to be a lawyer. We discussed his passion to serve others, and his love for St. Louis and so much more.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review on iTunes. We interview corporate defense law firm leaders, partners, general counsel, and legal consultants. 

You’re listening to Episode 54 of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

Chris B:  Welcome to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. I’m your host Chris Batz with The Lion Group. 

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Chris Lewis, Principal and General Counsel of Edward Jones in St. Louis. Chris Lewis is responsible for leading all associates who provide legal support to the firm, including compliance and government relations. Chris joined Edward Jones in 2007 as a Principal and Deputy General Counsel in the legal division. He was named General Counsel in 2015. Prior to that, he practiced law in New York at Duane Morris and K&L Gates. He’s a graduate of Columbia University School of Law as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Chris is a member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) General Counsel Committee. Chris serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. He is a member of the board of directors for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Missouri Botanical Garden and is a member of the Board of Trustees at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.

Chris, welcome to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. It’s great to have you on the show.

Chris L: Very pleased to be here, Chris, thanks for inviting me.

Inspired by Civil Rights Heroes  

Chris B: Chris, let’s jump in immediately with what led you to become an attorney. 

Chris L: I am one of those people who wanted to be an attorney since I was a kid. I couldn’t tell you as a kid why, but the reasoning crystallized for me as a young man in my observations reading and learning about the civil rights movement and the heroes of that era. Learning how they were able to leverage the law for positive change and positive impact, not just in this nation, but around the world was what made me want to be a civil rights lawyer.

Chris B: Who were those folks that inspired you to step into the profession?

Chris L: For a lot of people in my generation, Thurgood Marshall is at the top of the list and the historic work that he did. But for me personally, in addition to Justice Marshall, there are other heroes, like Constance Baker Motley and, in particular for me, a gentleman by the name of Charles Hamilton Houston, who I have a picture of in my office. He was the architect of the 25-year struggle to dismantle Jim Crow that ended up with Brown v Board of Education. His foresight was remarkable in strategizing case after case around the large mosaic of how to dismantle the system of inequity starting in the 1930s. The irony, Chris, is that he didn’t live to see Brown v. Board of Ed, but he died before that. It was pretty clear that the strategy that led to that case, the individual decisions, were all stitched together with a grand vision that was his. It was started decades before most other people could see the vision that he had. So, I have a picture in my office of him to remind me of not just working towards a purpose, but also thinking strategically as to how you get there, because that’s what he did, and we all benefited from that.

Chris B: You attended Columbia Law School and also participated in some civil rights organizations while there, correct?

Chris L: I did. I’m proud of being a founding member of the Civil Rights Law Society at Columbia Law School. Back when I was there, in fact, my co-chair in that endeavor is now the pending nominee for the Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Justice, Kristen Clarke, a wonderful attorney who has done tremendous work across the country. In addition to that, I was able to intern at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund while in law school.

Betting on Yourself 

Chris B: Share your journey with us to a corporate law firm. 

Chris L: I was very focused on going into the civil rights area. But the reality for me is no different than the reality for a lot of other people, in that I bet on myself to go to law school and had to leverage a lot of debt. In doing the math, as to paying off my debt, I was married with one child at the time, and the salaries in the Civil Rights area would not comfortably pay my debt and support my family. That led me to make the very difficult choice to go the law firm route, but I was able to identify law firms that really embraced the notion of making a positive impact and had commitments to the community. I ended up at what was Kirkpatrick and Lockhart, which is now K&L Gates, and they had a real commitment to pro bono work and a real commitment to allowing associates to feed that passion. I did a lot of pro bono work and a lot of legal work as well.

Being a Person of Color 

Chris B: Would you be willing to share with my listeners, your perspective of being a black man going through law school and in an industry that is predominantly white and mostly male?

Chris L: I appreciate the question. It is, in many instances, solitary. There are not a lot of people who share my background. There are not a lot of people who look like me. Sometimes, many times, in my career, I’m the only person in the room of color. I have been really blessed, notwithstanding that, to be surrounded by people who are filled with integrity, eager to learn, and open to different perspectives. So, I’ve never personally felt that I had to suppress my voice or suppress who I am in the professional spaces that I have been in. But I have many friends and acquaintances for whom that was not the case. It gets better the more of us there are in these spaces. But that’s the challenge for us and the opportunity.

Chris B: What areas of law did you practice in Big Law?

Chris L: I focused on litigation, a lot of white collar criminal defense, but also securities very early on. I was fortunate to connect with lawyers who had deep backgrounds and history in the securities industry. So, my focus was on a lot of securities litigation, regulatory matters, investigations, etc.

The Reverse Commute

Chris B: Share with my listeners, how you came to consider going in-house and if that was your plan.

Chris L: No, not even a little. I benefited from working with two gentlemen who did what we would call in New York, the reverse commute. A lot of people start in corporations after they’ve worked at law firms, but these two mentors and friends of mine actually worked in operations in the securities firms and then came to the law firm. I had a bird’s eye view from them as to what life was like in-house and how different it was from working in a law firm. So, after working with them, listening to them, and just enjoying the securities work the more I did, it left me open to the notion that going in-house might be something to consider.

Chris B: How did that door open at Edward Jones?

Chris L: The door opened via my dear friend, Jim Tricarico, who was a colleague of mine at Duane Morris. We moved our practice from K&L Gates to Duane Morris about 2004. Previous to joining the law firm Jim had been General Counsel at financial firm Prudential Securities. Jim was solicited to consider the role of General Counsel here at Edward Jones in St. Louis. When it became clear that he was going to be making that transition, I approached him and we started talking about me joining him to help build and lead the legal division with him at Edward Jones. Prior to Jim coming, the legal division had a different model. A lot of the work was outsourced and the idea was when Jim took the helm, to create a new model where we would build the expertise within the division itself. We would still rely on our law firm partners, but begin to grow. So by reference, Chris, I was lawyer number seven when I joined the legal division at Edward Jones. Now, we are up to 10 times that in terms of lawyers and well over 100 individuals in the division itself.

Are you an Employer hiring Legal or Compliance talent in the next 12-24 months?

We should talk.

Text “Headhunter” to 44222 or Click Here and Complete the Web Form.

Focus on Increasing Value

Chris B: Did you think that one day you would become General Counsel at Edward Jones?

Chris L: Honestly, that was not my focus and wasn’t something I thought about. My focus was on how to do a really good job, how to increase value for my clients, this wonderful firm, and just the joy of working in the space with my dear friend and colleague. The question of becoming General Counsel came later. It was one of serious thought, not reluctance, but recognizing the enormity of the task by being so close to it and asking myself, “Am I up to it? Is this what I want to do?”

Edward Jones’ Legal Department

Chris B: Would you share with my audience the scope and size of Edward Jones and who you’re leading in your teams?

Chris L: I’m really happy to do that. Edward Jones is in the financial services industry. We are the largest broker-dealer in America, in terms of the number of financial advisors that we have. We have a presence in the United States and in Canada and, in total, we have north of 19,000 financial advisors. We serve individual investors across North America who are trying to invest, save, plan and build for their future and the future of their families. We primarily do retail investing, not institutional investing. We’re a partnership. We’re the last of the large partnerships on Wall Street. We’re not a public company, and the owners of the company are the people who work there or have retired from there. And that’s been great for us, not just structurally but psychologically, working in partnership with each other and on behalf and with our clients. In terms of the scope and expanse of the firm, at last check, our business model with a single financial advisor and most of our branches has meant that we have a physical presence in 58% of the counties in the United States.

As I said earlier, I started as lawyer number seven in the legal division. We’ve been able to attract lawyers from all over the country to join in our mission. We’ve built just an incredible team. And it’s also been built, Chris, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I’m really proud to say that of my legal division, close to 70% of the people in the division are women. More than 50% of our leaders are women. 20% of our division is diverse. As General Counsel, I have three deputy general counsels, and each of them are women and really talented individuals.

Chris B: You also oversee compliance and government relations too?

Chris L: I do. If you include compliance, my team is just under 700 individuals. Our Chief Compliance Officer leads compliance, which at Edward Jones includes supervision for our branch teams, and he is just a fantastic leader as well and has built a fantastic team there. Government relations is also an area I lead. It’s not as large but we leverage a lot of our outside consultants and friends in that space.

Being Intentional with DE&I

Chris B: Would you share your journey with diversity, equity, and inclusion? And would you share about the Buttermilk Group as well as initiatives inside Edward Jones?

Chris L: I’ll start with the work that we’ve done with our team. I’m really passionate to talk about the community that we have built, as well as the privilege to be a part of what you referenced as the Buttermilk Club.

We’ve always been focused on diversity, as many corporations are, but I recall, Chris, this specific conversation with my team at the time about 6-7 years ago. We sat in a room in which the conversation was like everyone else. We have this commitment to diversity listed as one of our objectives and one of our guiding principles, but we really need to have a conversation about whether we mean it. It’s been on the list, but we haven’t really focused on the work we need to do to move this forward. So we had an honest conversation of either we’re going to keep it on the list and really focus on it or let’s take it off the list. It was a really rich conversation, where the team unanimously said, “No, it’s not only on the list, it’s a priority for us.” That led to really intentional actions. And I use that word purposefully, Chris, because that was the theme that came out and was a catalyst for us that this work requires intentionality. One of the first things we did is we wrote a letter to our outside counsel. We have really great outside counsel all across the country. The letter basically said, “You are valued, we really love working with you, but we need your help. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to us, and so we need your help in advancing our objectives. What we would ask you to do is to introduce us to partners, associates, and others at your firm and bring them on board to help do our work. We believe in long-term relationships. That’s our business model and for our business, as it relates to law firm partners, we believe in long-term relationships as well. We think the better you know us, and the more you get to know us, the better the service is.” It was great that so many of our law firm partners stepped up and embraced that opportunity with us and have helped to deepen our bench in terms of the diverse counsel that we work with. But I will say Chris, some of our outside counsel didn’t do that. They thought we weren’t serious, for whatever reason, and some of those firms no longer do work for us anymore. And for the ones that continue to do work for us, we’ve scaled back significantly. But for the most part, our law firm partners really leaned in and really helped us. And it’s helped them within the law firm to identify and develop the diverse talent that so many of our law firms are fighting for. We didn’t stop there. We focused also on how do we strategically identify diverse law firms and find ways for them to do our work. We partnered with an organization called NAMWOLF (National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms) and identified firms that had niche specialties, small women-owned firms that do contract work, or small firms that do litigation in certain parts of the country. We built meaningful relationships with a roster of firms through NAMWOLF, who are diverse and do excellent high-quality work for us as part of our team. Our focus has been on hiring and remain on hiring throughout and I think our numbers reflect that. Diversity is impacted by hiring. Equity and inclusion come from how we develop, how we promote, and how we engage in that work. We continue to do it. I think we have success, but it’s like exercise, if you stop doing it, you start falling back into bad habits. It’s a constant focus for us and I have a team that has really engaged in this work.

The Buttermilk Group

Let’s talk about the Buttermilk Club because I think that that is also not just for me personally, but for so many of my colleagues in our industry. It’s important work that we’re doing in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space that started about 2004/2005. Several of us attended the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Annual Compliance and Legal Conference. It’s a very large conference every year with about 18,000-20,000 registrants. We were in Arizona, at a hotel, at that time. And candidly, we looked around the entire hotel with 18,000 attendees and their families. It was very hard to see people of color who didn’t work at the hotel. So, one person said, “We need to meet,” and we were literally grabbing folks in the hall saying, “We’re going to have breakfast tomorrow morning.” At that breakfast, there were six of us in the booth. Some of us knew each other, and we had a really good breakfast. We exchanged business cards, committed to keeping in touch throughout the year, and committed to meeting for breakfast every time we’re at the conference. For some years, it was six of us again, but other years we had 12. During the financial crisis, the numbers shrank when we lost people from the industry. We had a breakthrough one year where we invited Beth Dorfman, the then president of the Compliance and Legal Society, to join us for breakfast. At that breakfast, we had 70 people show up. And that’s when we recognized we were onto something and it wasn’t only about building the network and building the community within the industry. It was about how we could activate this for good so we approached the Compliance and Legal folks in SIFMA. We told them how we’d been doing this work on our own for about 5-6 years and we wanted to talk with them about creating some permanency within Compliance and Legal around this. SIFMA is aligned to diversity, equity, and inclusion and jumped in with both feet and hugged with both arms. So, as of today, the Buttermilk Group has become a very large network of a couple of hundred people. We generate work for folks and pass along resumes. We have seminars at law schools and get-togethers ourselves. At the conference, our breakfast that started with six in the booth is now a permanent part of the programming for the conference, and the average attendance is about 200. We have a women’s lunch that the group sponsored that is now a permanent part of the conference and is always oversubscribed with over 300 attendees. We have a diversity panel, focused on diversity and inclusion that is standing room only. That speaks to not just the work of my colleagues in driving this but also the work of everyone in the community in rallying around it. It really validates that the statements aren’t hollow but that there are folks in our industry, folks in our community, and folks in the business community who really are passionate about this and really want to drive it. When they see ideas that are worthwhile, they will not just rally and support but do some of the heavy lifting as well. I’m pretty proud of that group and to be a part of it.

Chris B: Rather exciting and such an amazing story. I appreciate your sharing the details and the progress. It’s really a testament of the courageous, that you guys have stepped into. So thank you for sharing that.

Chris L: My pleasure. As I said, I’m one person in a large group, and I’m just proud to be a part of that group of folks. They’re spectacular.

Future Casting New Laws & Regs

Chris B: What changes and challenges are you seeing in the legal industry, both for in-house and law firms?

Chris L: The world continues to get more complex. Exponentially so for the businesses that we’re all in. There’s a lot more to do in a much more compressed period of time. Everything’s moving faster and everything’s more complex. The demands for outside lawyers are intense. It’s not like it was, even 14 years ago. It’s not the traditional need for litigation support or corporate support. Think of the changes that technology is driving through everyday life. In firms that are focused on serving individuals, that adds a layer of complexity. It’s not a question of how you need an IP lawyer. It really is how do you strategize and think through the application of law in areas where there really isn’t law yet, because the technology has evolved so quickly, and finding law firm partners that can help us to think through that. The example I’ll use is social media. So, I work in an industry where the regulators and all of us are focused on protecting against client harm. We have very stringent rules around communication, and the documentation of communication or retention, etc. Then comes along the social media platforms where the communication is not one way it’s multi-way, and the rules are working to catch up with it. Our industry is working to catch up with it all with an eye towards protecting against client harm and meeting our regulatory obligations. We’ve all sort of solved it, but the value for us is with lawyers outside who can help us think through that because the law isn’t settled in these spaces. So the demand for expertise in those spaces, from in-house counsel to outside has grown. It’s not grown in terms of things that we’ve done traditionally, for 30 years, but it’s “Help us to discern the frontier.”

For in-house, the work has also really changed, both for my experience and my team, but also for my colleagues that I speak to. There is a lot more emphasis, particularly in the top of the house, on focusing on that frontier and strategy. How do we meld the regulations and the regulatory requirements in the direction that we want to go as a company as an organization? There certainly is a significant portion that is reactive to litigations, increased customer complaints, etc. but so much of our time is focused on trying to future cast as best as we can. It’s fun, and it makes the work really exciting and really engaging. But it’s pretty fast-paced and pretty intense.

Integrity & Purpose in Leadership

Chris B: How do you define leadership, Chris?

Chris L: Leadership, for me, is certainly about a way of being and a way of getting work accomplished with others, through others, in an inspirational way. The leaders that I’ve admired and learned from, and we’re all a product of our experiences, help draw the definition for me. Number one is integrity. People will want to work with and be led by people who they trust, people who they believe in, and people who have high integrity. Number two is having a leadership philosophy aligned to a purpose. It is easy to focus on the work and the tasks of the work, but I think focusing on the higher purpose is key. Thinking back to the civil rights struggle, I ask, “What are you aiming for?” Helping folks to see that picture as best you can, to me exemplifies the best of leadership. So, leadership is integrity, leading with purpose, building a team, and being inspiring to the best extent you can be.

Chris B: Who has inspired you?

Chris L: Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, but of the folks that are contemporaries, I admire all strong leaders. Whether they’re the ones that I’ve read about but also the ones I’ve worked with and observed. One of the invaluable lessons of leadership that I’ve learned from some of the folks that have mentored me is you have to find your own way. I picked up bits and pieces from all of the leaders that I’ve watched and admired and I’ve tried to adapt them to myself. My current leader, Penny Pennington, is just a tremendous example of what it means to lead with integrity and purpose. She is a true visionary, who inspires everyone around her, but I have no hope of being who Penny is. So, I’ve adapted some of her traits and qualities and sort of integrated them into my way. Some of the folks I’ve worked with before, the two mentors I mentioned in Jim Tricarico and Lauren Schecter. They are very different people, but I’ve learned from them how to lead from the middle, not from the front, to build a team, empower a team, encourage the team and celebrate the successes of the team.

Serving the St. Louis Community

Chris B: Chris, let’s talk about St. Louis and your passion for the city and community leadership.

Chris L: Well, part of what fuels it is St. Louis itself. You mentioned I’m a transplant from New York, where we lived up in Westchester County. I grew up north of that and came out to St. Louis 14 years ago, and it’s really become home. St. Louis is a very community-focused place. There’s a lot of civic-mindedness in the institutions here. Part of my journey, Chris, when I came in-house was recognizing that it’s difficult when you’re in an in-house role to be doing pro bono litigation matters. For me, that passion, which has never diminished, pivoted to how to serve in community organizations. That’s what led to me finding boards that identify with my view of the world and purpose. I’ve been privileged to serve on several of them. I’m currently the Board Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, which is a tremendous organization that is focused on the results of the children that we serve. It’s the children and building community around them, and everything we can do to assure positive outcomes for them. Not just until they turn 18, but all the way through age 25 and getting a living wage. I love that organization and the work that they do. That is quintessentially St. Louis. Children’s Hospital is one of the very wonderful and noteworthy hospitals in the St. Louis area. But Children’s Hospital for me is unique because it sits right there geographically, next to North St. Louis, which is one of the most impoverished areas in our city, and Children’s Hospital is de facto primary care for a lot in that community. In addition to the quality of care and the focus on community care, there’s a focus on research, particularly for childhood illnesses. It’s some of the best research in the world. It’s great to be a part of the hunt for cures for childhood illnesses. One of the jewels of St. Louis is a botanical garden, which, if I may say so humbly, is one of the best Botanical Gardens in the world, and has been recognized as such. Their focus is not just on the space, but also on the identification, preservation, and conservation of plant life and plant species all over the world. That organization I’m also proud to be a part of. It’s focused on research all over the world, in addition to the preservation of just this jewel of a garden that we have here in St. Louis.

From Jamaica to New York

Chris B: Chris, let’s transition to family. Would you share your immigration story from Jamaica to New York?

Chris L: I’m the middle child of five. I was born and raised in Jamaica (in New York, you would say Jamaica, Jamaica, not to be confused with Jamaica, Queens). My father had a very successful career there. In his early 50s, he decided to leave everything behind and move to the United States with his family and five children to seek a better life. So, we moved up to Poughkeepsie, New York. I was 12 years old and I acclimated to a very different environment. I remember seeing snow for the first time and feeling weather that was less than 60 degrees.

Chris B: Are you happy about that or were you not so crazy about that?

Chris L: As I think about it, it’s hard for me to separate it from how I think about the journey for my children when we moved from New York to St. Louis. What I’ve concluded is, children adjust and 12 is miserable no matter where you are. It was some culture shock that was eased in many respects by the fact that we moved to a community that had a lot of other Jamaicans and people from all over the world. In fact, Poughkeepsie, New York was a very wonderfully diverse place which helped.

High School Sweethearts

Chris B: You also shared with me that you’re an avid Mets fan, and you met your wife in New York as well.

Chris L: So my wife and I were high school sweethearts. We dated in high school, but she was in fifth grade with my sister and I played soccer in the churchyard with her brother. We’re all still very close. We will celebrate 30 years of marriage in a couple of months, but we’ve known each other since we were children.

I am a lifelong Mets fan, which means I am forever hopeful, but always primed for disappointment. I love the New York Mets, and always will. I’ve tried to switch my allegiances, but it just won’t work. It’s the same for the New York Knicks, I somehow managed to raise a kid who is a die-hard Yankees fan, and I don’t know how that happened. But I’m with the Mets, and this year is gonna be our year, you just watch.

Living Vicariously

Chris B: Would you share with my listeners your love for music?

Chris L: I was a DJ in a prior life on radio for many years and then got to be a grown-up. I still have a lot of my records, the ones that haven’t been picked over by my kids. It fed the passion for my children, each of which are musicians, in some way. Our oldest is trying to make his way in that industry. He’s very talented. It takes more than just talent to be successful, but he’s a really good musician, who will never play music that someone else created. He always does his own thing. Our middle kid will play everything that other people created. He plays piano and violin. Then our daughter, she’s our rocker, and she plays guitar and bass and likes to create music. It’s a passion for me. Now, I get to live vicariously through my children who all have different tastes, but all have such deep knowledge of current music and music history. It’s great to have conversations with them and learn from them.

Chris B: As the weather gets better, I’m sure you’re going out and swinging a club.

Chris L: Every once in a while. Golf is my passion. I said, “Okay, I need to find something because I’m not gonna die at my desk.” So, I love to play golf. I am not good by any stretch, Chris, but it is a passion. I love the camaraderie when I play with friends. I plan to go out this weekend, in fact, if the weather holds.

Chris B: Do you try to golf around the world or do you stick to the United States or St. Louis?

Chris L: I’m open to doing it around the world. In fact, I planned a trip with some dear friends overseas to Ireland. COVID got in the way, but we’re in the process of trying to reschedule that. But, generally, I golf in the United States. Everyone who loves golf has a bucket list of courses they want to play. I have my own. I’ll find them and check them off the list.

Recommended Reading

Chris B: You mentioned you’re a reader. Share with my audience those authors and books you enjoy.

Chris L: I have a passion for everything written by Walter Mosley. He is an African American writer of mysteries. He writes mystery that is deeply rooted in the black experience in such a very authentic way. So, everything he writes, including his grocery lists, I would read. In addition, I’m a fan of Marlon James, who’s a Jamaican writer who is also a professor in St. Paul. He wrote this book several years ago that won the Man Booker Prize, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is a massive book. It’s all about Jamaica and the diaspora. I love everything he writes as well. I read other folks, but those are the two standouts for me right now.

Chris B: What’s your preferred format for reading (paper, digital, audio, etc.)?

Chris L: I’m not into audio, but they’re all now on my iPad. With traveling all over the country, I realized books are heavy. So, I’ve gotten accustomed to downloading them to my iPad and reading there.

Making a Meaningful Difference

Chris B: Chris, last question, what makes your heart come alive?

Chris L: Helping other people and seeing them reach their full potential. There’s no feeling like the feeling of making a meaningful difference for someone else.

Chris B: Chris, it has been an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for your time today.

Chris L: Honored to be here, Chris, thank you so much.

Thank you to everyone who listened to this episode of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

***To Download the PDF Transcript, click here*** 

We Want Your Feedback!

Click Here to share ideas on who to interview and what topics interest you for future episodes.