Roland T. Hairston, II recounts his journey becoming a lawyer, shares his experience as board member for the Nashville Classical Charter School, and emphasizes the importance of family and community in his work and personal life.
Roland Hairston began practicing out of Center 615 in January 2014 on account of a former classmate already working here.
Part of Roland Hairston’s practice is family law, which he thoroughly enjoys since every day he and his team help support families, kids, and other individuals through very difficult processes, aiding them in making the best decisions during an emotional period in their life.
The cases he works on range from child custody, divorces, child support matters, dependency and neglect matters, grandparent visitation, adoptions, and more. Roland also works on probate and estate planning.
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Another interview in Hitchhiker, Roland dresses rather respectably, wearing a light gray suit, soft yellow tie, and shining brown leather shoes. On top of his uber-civilized apparel, he politely addresses me with a “yes, ma’am” when I ask him questions, making me feel particularly noble.
Andra: What made you decide to become a lawyer?
Roland: In college, a professor said to me that I had an aptitude for it. On top of that, the pastor at my church encouraged us to pray about our goals for the New Year. I felt like I was supposed to go back to school; so, I looked into business programs, but eventually decided to go to study law.
After college, I helped run my family’s magazine business for about 3 years. Then I was director of communications for a church for 6-7 years. It was Born Again Church in Nashville. After that I went back to working in my family’s magazine business for a couple years, but with print dwindling on account of the internet on the rise, I decided to “whip out” my law degree and start practicing. When I began to practice, I didn’t have a focus; I was willing to practice anything.
I came to Center 615 because a former classmate of mine, Elizabeth Waites, was a member practicing out of C615 at the time.
I started working out of Center 615 in January 2014, but I didn’t have an office. I would come here for conference room usage, and I would use the co-table as well. As the hours I booked increased, Christian and Brandon encouraged me to get my own suite. That’s when I signed a lease for 119. A year and a half later I moved into 108, and two years after that I moved into 104A.
A: Is there any reason why you chose to practice family law, estate planning, and probate law?
R: The pragmatic answer to that is, while shadowing one friend at court, I spotted an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for 15 years. Naturally, I called her up because I knew she was a lawyer. She asked how my practice was going, and I told her that I didn’t quite yet know what I was doing. So, she asked me, “Whose office are you working in? Do you have any lawyers or mentors helping you?” After I gave my answer, she said, “Come by my office on Tuesday.”
The mentor that I had at the time was a family law attorney, and she taught me all the ropes. I have stayed within that practice to this day because I genuinely enjoy the work we do. Every day, our work helps families, kids, and individuals get through challenges and stressful situations where families can potentially be torn apart, depending on how the situation is handled. My team and I are there to guide them through a very difficult process.
That can be anything from child custody, divorces, child support matters, dependency and neglect matters—where parents are trying to get their kids back, grandparent visitation, adoptions, and things of that nature.
The probate side is when a loved one passes and there are assets or debts in their estate that need to be passed on to the next person.
Estate planning involves simple wills, just to make sure there is a plan in place for when they die.
A: Are there other places you looked besides Center 615 to practice out of?
R: I seriously considered renting a space with some other lawyers, who had an extra space. On the other hand, knowing that Liz was here—even though she was on her way out while I was on my way in—and having been here and among the culture, I thought this was a nice place.
At that time, Brandon was up front, and he was always friendly, so I felt Center 615 was a good fit for me. Another pragmatic thing is that Center 615 is close to the Court House. I’m in court quite a bit, so I constantly travel back and forth between here and there. Usually, I’m in the Court House for a hearing in front of a judge presenting information, letting my witness testify, making arguments, etc. Sometimes I’m over at the Court House filing papers or attending a meeting, so the short commute really helps.
A: Is there a particular type of case that you enjoy working on?
R: Really and truly, in family law practice, whichever case I’m doing, I’m moving people through a difficult process that they’re already stressed about. There are a lot of emotions: grief, shock, anger, sadness, and all these things at the same time could cloud someone’s judgement.
I feel like my job is to put my arm around the person and help guide them through what they need to do, to get them through the state of litigation they’re in and make the best decisions during an emotional period of their life. This is your life and your family, it’s important for you to understand what’s going on; that’s what I enjoy most.
Each type of case has its challenges, but I like them all equally. I try to do the same thing for all of my clients: 1-advise and 2-advocate.
A: Do you find at times that you’re wearing a “therapist hat”?
R: Sure. By that, I take it you mean, being empathetic, listening, and trying to give good counsel, which is definitely part of a lawyer’s job.
If you only approach it as “another day, another client” you’d be a horrible fit for the work that I do. You have to be willing to love people, walk with people, encourage people, and all of that.
A: Can you tell me more about being a board member for Nashville Classical Charter School?
R: Actually, I just rolled off the board for Nashville Classical Charter School. I was there for 4 years. It was exciting! I learned about the school through Christian Paro. Christian was a former board member, and he and Shandi [Paro] invited me to check out the school they were a part of. I loved the work they were doing for the kids and the culture they were building for the kids there. The school has recently moved to a much larger location in East Nashville.
A: What do you like most about being at Center 615?
R: When I first came, this whole wing [the East Wing] was Hardaway Construction. So, to have this vision for this expansion, to make it nicer and nicer, the games in the Rec Hall, the nap room, the meditation room, etc.
I love the collaborative spirit of Center 615. Lea Johnson and I were part of starting up Center 615 Connects, which we did twice. We have all these cool businesses in these buildings, but we don’t always know each other. Center 615 Connects was an opportunity to share referrals, learn about other members and their businesses, and see how we can help each other.
Center 615 would like to thank Roland Hairston for taking the time to sit down for and interview and allowing us to share his story.