GBA Member Profile

Virginia B. Harman
McRae, Smith, Peek, Harman, & Monroe, LLP

Q: What has been your best experience as an attorney working with banking industry clients?

I find my banking clients to be those who are most attuned to seeking advice and input from counsel before making decisions or implementing programs so that I can help them avoid pitfalls and assist them in reaching their objectives. The most satisfying development for an attorney like me, who started as a litigator, is to be able to help my clients plan and avoid problems and stay out of litigation in the first place! 

Q: How has involvement with the GBA Bank Counsel Section helped you and your firm?

With the GBA Bank Counsel Section as a resource, I never feel that I need face a problem or issue alone. The contacts I’ve made at GBA and with those other attorneys in the Section are resources that a practitioner in a small firm like ours simply could not otherwise replicate.

Q: When you think about the future of the banking industry in Georgia, what makes you concerned and what makes you hopeful?

The bleak days beginning in 2008 were so tough on our banking clients whether large, small or in-between. What didn’t kill us made us stronger…I think! The lessons learned seem to me to have taken Georgia banks back to their roots in terms of conservative, thoughtful, planned growth built on a solid business plan. That makes me hopeful. What makes me concerned? I’m a lawyer, which means I’m a born skeptic. I’ve also seen how fast people can adopt an “it won’t happen to me” mentality and refuse to stick with those very lessons I’ve mentioned from 2008. Whether certain best practices are incorporated in law or regulation shouldn’t be the point of the inquiry. Whether or not certain practices make long-term sense for the bank, its shareholders and customers should be the point instead.

Q: If you were to thank one person for helping you become the person you are today, who would it be and what did they do?

Wow. This is the hardest question. One person? All of us know so many family members, friends and mentors without whom we would not have been able to become the person that we want to be. My first answer to the question has usually been my dad, David Barrow, former Mayor of Bowdon, Georgia, whose love and leadership in every aspect of life still guide me. But upon reflection today, I realize I would have to say that the one person who deserves my thanks the most would be my husband of almost 38 years, Tracy Harman, whom I lost unexpectedly last fall. He was quite simply always there for me in every way. He was taken so suddenly. I thought I had years to tell him thanks. Maybe that was his last lesson for me: Thank those you love and admire today. You may not have tomorrow.

Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?

A life-long interest in snakes and turtles has led me to pursue, with my two daughters’ help, becoming a licensed rescue and rehab facility for wildlife specializing in herpetology. I am already called on quite often to come move and relocate snakes for local folks who are scared but have learned that killing snakes is not a good or necessary thing. Indeed, the old adage “the only good snake is a dead snake” has never been true and we need them in our environment more than ever!