Posted in: Lawyers Young Lawyers Division

Mobilizing millennials

Young Lawyer Tommy Preston talks about national leadership role and Southern hospitality

The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is an organization of 200,000 members, and the man leading them all is a South Carolina attorney.

Tommy Preston Jr., director of National Strategy and Engagement at Boeing in Charleston,  serves at the national chair of the ABA Young Lawyers Division. As chair Preston gets to host the annual ABA Young Lawyers Division conference right here in the Palmetto State.

“I really went to law school to help people,” Preston said. “I always thought lawyers were considered pillars in our community and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Being the National Chair of the ABA YLD allows him to work with thousands of lawyers across the country who are equally as committed to making a difference in the lives of others. He’s helping the profession move forward, ensuring that young lawyers have the resources they need to be successful, and mobilizing a large population of millennials to positively impact their communities.

Having the chance to host a national convention is a dream come true for a guy who grew up in a small town in Pickens County.

Young attorneys from across the nation and worldwide will traveling to Charleston October 25-27 to network, learn and grow.

Preston recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the event and his national leadership role.

How excited are you to have this conference in your city?

One of the best parts of serving as national chair of the ABA YLD is that I get the opportunity to represent our great state. Wherever I go, both nationally and internationally, I am waving the South Carolina flag and talking about what makes our state so special. Having lawyers from all over coming to Charleston at the end of October is pretty cool and a tremendous honor. One, they get to see how awesome South Carolina lawyers are. They also get to see firsthand that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and hands down have the best food. I was actually talking to a Young Lawyer leader from Hong Kong who’s coming to the conference. Just think of the impression she will have of America when she goes back home after the conference. 

What are you looking forward to people learning and experiencing?

We have so many unique things planned for this conference. It will be quintessential Southern hospitality. We are kicking off our conference with Judge Richard Gergel doing a program on Judge J. Waites Waring and the Briggs v. Elliott case. Then, young lawyers will participate in our Home Hospitality program and have dinner in the homes of local lawyers. Our conference theme is “Tradition Meets Innovation.” We have a number of innovative companies presenting including Google and Thomson Reuters. Our opening plenary speaker is Mark Britton, who disrupted the legal profession by founding AVVO. Our attendees get to experience the beauty of Charleston with a dinner at Lowndes Grove on the Ashley River with all the Southern fare they can eat. We end the conference with a powerful program at Mother Emanuel AME Church that includes one of the survivors and those who were at the center of the tragedy and subsequent trial. Our goal is for people to leave Charleston, saying that this is the best legal conference they’ve ever attended and ultimately wanting to come back to South Carolina.

And for fun, what’s your favorite thing to do in Charleston? 

I have been in Charleston for three years now since joining The Boeing Company and cannot seem to lose weight because of the food down here. I’ve always been a foodie, and Charleston is a foodie Mecca. It’s getting even better with time. I feel like I’m in paradise.