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Leadership profile: Tom Bolt, chair of the ABA Law Practice Division

Tom Bolt

Tom Bolt is the chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Division. He talked with Peggy Liu, ABA Law Student Division delegate and liaison to the division, about his experience and role.

How did you decide on pursuing law as a career? 

I grew up in the family law firm.  I started working there since junior high school.  I knew early on that I wanted to be an attorney and dedicate my life to helping others through the law.

What is your area of practice and what has influenced your choice? 

My primary area of practice is government relations.  As a lawyer lobbyist, I have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my clients to make a positive impact by creating better public policy.

Tom Bolt

Tom Bolt

How has your career path developed over the years? 

My first job out of law school was Counsel to the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.  I thought if life was considered a game, then wouldn’t it be great if I became a lawyer and understood the rules of the game.  Upon additional reflection, I thought, “Hey, it is even better if you write the rules!”  Today, I continue to write a good bit of legislation and serve as a Uniform Law Commissioner.

What is the most favorite part of the work that you do currently? 

I love people.  I enjoy assisting them with what is usually one of the greatest problems that they will encounter in their lives.

What does it take to succeed in the legal profession? 

Commitment to providing quality legal services for value.  Moreover, do good by your clients and the profession.

What are some of the changes you anticipate in the practice of law in the next three to five years?    

There will be many changes in the profession over the next few years, including the implementation of alternative business structures (ABS), potential changes in legislation regarding multi-jurisdictional practice, the unbundling of legal services, and the use of limited license legal technicians (LLLTs) to close the access-to-justice gap, to name a few.

Why should law students join the Law Practice Division? 

They should join to develop practice-ready skills.  This is a skillset that our law schools, for the most part, fall short.  It is also a skillset that the profession has cited time and again that law students need when they walk in the door.  The ABA Law Practice Division provides you with the skills that you need to start and build your own firm or be an asset to your employer.  I was a government attorney for almost 10 years when I decided to go into private practice.  The ABA Law Practice Division became my partner and together we built one of the most successful firms in the Caribbean.

What advice would you give law students in terms of mindset that they need to start developing now? 

Service to clients.  Let client service be your watchword.  If clients believe that you are genuinely concerned for their welfare, they will spread the word and you will be successful.

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.