EVP, General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer
United Community Bank, Blairsville
Chair, GBA Bank Counsel Board; Chair GBA Code Review Task Force
How did you get into banking law as a career?
I began my legal career as a litigator at what is now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. My practice was primarily focused on litigation of matters involving consumer statutes, most of which affect bank compliance programs. In addition to litigation, I was part of a team that advised financial institutions and credit card companies on compliance matters. So, when the opportunity at United Community Bank presented itself in 2007, it seemed like a good fit.
What was your first job growing up, and was there a lesson you learned there that you still use today? (not first professional job – something like mowing lawns or waiting tables, etc…)
My first job growing up was mowing lawns in my neighborhood. One of the lessons I learned from mowing lawns is that there were lots of people offering lawn service, and in order to get the job, I had to distinguish myself and my service from others. So I made it a point to get to know my customers and not only complete the job that I was hired to do, but to always do a little more. That is something I strive to do today – understand what our customers and bankers are trying to accomplish, address their issues and try bring an approach that will improve the process or experience. I think that by not just being a lawyer, but also trying to be a business partner to our customers and bankers has helped me in my career.
You’re heading up GBA’s Code Review Task Force to help update our state’s banking laws. What’s been the most interesting part of the process for you?
It has been a real honor and privilege working with all of the talented lawyers on the Code Review Task Force. We have lawyers from the Department of Banking and Finance, banks and law firms on the Task Force, each bringing a unique perspective to the issues addressed. The most interesting part of the process has been to observe how effective the group has been in a short period of time. I am proud of the progress that has been made.
How does involvement in GBA help you and your bank?
The GBA has been a great resource for me personally and for United Community Bank. Joe Brannen and his entire team do a terrific job of staying in tune with the ever changing laws and influences on a State and Federal level. The training programs and GBA-sponsored meetings are always helpful and the time spent with peers at these events is invaluable. It is reassuring to know that the GBA is working hard for our banking industry every day.
When you are not at work, what do you like to do most?
I have a teenage son who is active in sports. So when I am not a work, I am usually at a practice or game of some sort. Apart from that, I do enjoy the occasional round of golf and fishing.