Name: Kevin Gooch
Hometown: Covington, Georgia (born in Los Angeles, CA and moved at 7 years old)
Current Town: Atlanta, Georgia
What Years at UGA: 2001 – 2004
School/Degree: School of Law, J.D.
Profession: Attorney in Financial Services Group at Holland & Knight LLP
Accolades: Kevin has received the National Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Division Advocacy and Leadership Award, which recognized one lawyer in the country for their work in the profession and the community, as well as the Alston & Bird LLP Diversity Leadership Award for his exemplary commitment to the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Over the course of three years, Kevin received a total of seven “40 Under 40” Awards from such prestigious institutions and organizations as: (i) American Bar Association, (ii) University of Georgia, (iii) Emory University, (iv) Atlanta Business Chronicle, (v) National Bar Association, (vi) Fulton County Daily Report, and (vii) Georgia Trend Magazine. He has been named to the List of “Most Influential Atlantans” by Atlanta Magazine on multiple occasions. He was named to the inaugural Georgia Trend List of “Most Influential Georgians”. He has received the Rick Palmore Award from the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity for outstanding alums of the organization of more than 3,000 acclaimed attorneys. He has participated in LEAD Atlanta, Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Georgia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the UGA Alumni Association, the Law School Alumni Council and UGA Board of Visitors. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Woodruff Arts Center. He was recently named as the General Counsel of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. after serving as the youngest Chairman of the Board of Directors in the 35+ year history of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.
What life lessons did you learn while at UGA?
I learned to be intentional about getting outside of your comfort zone to make friends and explore new experiences as well as being aware of brand that you are building through every interaction with people. Some of my best friendships were developed during my time at UGA. I also had incredible experiences at UGA Law, including serving as 1L Class President and Student Bar Association President because I was intentional about taking the risk and putting myself out there for service to the institution.
What professor did you most admire?
I had several incredible professors. Several. Each one contributed different things to my development as an attorney and professional. In law school, I participated in an early start program a couple weeks prior to law school. Dean Rebecca White taught that early start program. Her passion and intensity was infectious and set the tone for the next three years in law school. Professor Dan Coenen taught me to always think ahead and fully understand your opponent’s position. Professor Anne Dupre, God rest her soul, taught me to dissect complex issues into digestible pieces and think like a lawyer.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement to date is the success of my mentees that I worked with during my time leading the 100 Black Men of Atlanta as the youngest Chairman of the Board in the organization’s 35+ year history. Those mentees that have graduated from UGA Law, Stanford University, Morehouse College and started successful businesses are the return on my investment. The accolades and accomplishments are great. To make partner at Alston & Bird LLP and become a partner at one of the largest firm’s in the world were days that I’ll never forget in life. However, leveraging those moments and successes to benefit the next generation and watch them flourish is my greatest achievement.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I admire two historical figures a great deal. One is Thurgood Marshall. Of course, he was an attorney. He leveraged the law to change the trajectory of an entire race of people through his advocacy and strategically selecting and winning cases across the country to prove that separate was not equal in education, which ended segregation in education. It was against all odds, but he was unphased in his approach and I truly admire that approach and boldness. The other person that I admire is Bryan Stevenson. He is an attorney that founded the Equal Justice Initiative with the mission to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment and racial inequality. He has truly highlighted compassion and leveraged it as a means to address critical issues around race and punishment. We cannot move forward freely as a nation without addressing some of these wrongs of the past. Mr. Stevenson has been working tirelessly to ensure that we, as a nation and people, atone for the ills of our past in the justice system and related to race relations. The movie “Just Mercy” was based on his story as a Harvard-educated criminal defense attorney focused on Capital Punishment cases and juvenile defendants facing harsh sentences.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents are definitely heroes of mine and instilled in me the drive and character that has led to my success. My grandmother, Hazel Hendrix, raised me. She taught me the power of work ethic and the value in always keeping perspective through issues that come up in life. Finally, Judge Horace Johnson, Jr. was a hero in real life. He integrated the school system in Newton County, Georgia. He later became an attorney and judge in the same county where he integrated the schools. He never lost touch in the community and became a personal mentor and sponsor of mine that truly helped me navigate my educational and professional journey. Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., Curley Dossman, Milton Jones and the other leaders of the 100 Black Men of America have been heroes as well. There’s no easy task in leading several generations of successful African American men and being able to watch these men do it successfully, while learning from them has definitely taught me a ton about leadership and life.
Quote to live by: “Success is leased, not owned, and rent is due every single day.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Happiness to me is taking in new experiences like a concert, travel or a UGA National Championship Game with a group of friends building lifelong memories.
What is your most marked characteristic? Boldness. I don’t usually see limits on what I, or others, can accomplish. If you prepare well and work hard enough, you can accomplish darn near anything. The other is a commitment to community. I have been a tireless community servant and advocate for the vulnerable in our community through my work with the 100 Black Men and other organizations.
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty and a willingness to put up with my shenanigans. I also value ambition in my friends and a sense of humor and adventure.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My willingness to say no more often to new commitments and be more disciplined in certain areas of life like healthy habits.
Who are your favorite writers?
James Clear. His book “Atomic Habits” has been very helpful in learning how to develop productive habits to benefit my professional life. Keith Ferrazzi. His book “Never Eat Alone” is one that I assign to my law school students at Emory University School of Law. The book is very helpful in helping my students develop the skills necessary to develop their practices.
Fave social media and who to follow?
Instagram. Adam Grant. His posts are very insightful for professionals.