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MISSISSIPPI PROFILES — Jones Walker focused on clients

ALAN TURNER

I had an opportunity to visit with Aileen Thomas, a partner with Jones Walker, and learn about one of Mississippi’s (and the nation’s) top law firms.

Thomas was born in Australia, but came to the United States as a young girl and grew up in Mississippi, attending Belhaven University and the Mississippi College School of Law, where graduated in 1995. She eventually joined Jones Walker in 2011 when it merged with another firm, and today serves on the firm’s Board of Directors. She does a substantial amount of work related to community development, especially in low income communities.

Thomas lives in northeast Jackson, and tells me that Jones Walker is committed to maintaining its support and presence in downtown Jackson.

Aileen Thomas

I asked her to give me a good overview of Jones Walker.

“We’re a full service law firm,” she said. “We represent 38 Fortune 100 companies, and 30 publicly traded corporations.”

That would certainly make Jones Walker one of America’s top firms, but Thomas told me that they are definitely focused on serving their communities, however large or small.

“You might say we offer the expertise of a large firm, but with an intense local focus”, she told me. “Our mission is to provide a full range of legal services to our clients, and you’ll find that many of our partners are actively engaged in community projects and support. We’re very proud of that.”

It is a firm that is very involved in community development and financial law, I asked Thomas how she views the Mississippi business environment and prospects for the coming decade.

“We’re very optimistic about Mississippi,” she said. “While we are not without challenges, there are many good things happening in Mississippi, and we see solid growth and development on the horizon for the state.”

She sees Mississippi as a strongly business-positive state that works to attract new businesses as well as supporting existing ones.

“As we see it, challenges are also opportunities, and one of our key goals is to provide the experience and expertise that will help our clients to weather the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities,” she said.

Thomas said that she expects to see growth for the firm in the upcoming 5 years, as Mississippi grows, and they expect to play a strong role in community support and development in the process.

I asked her what advice she might have to offer to young people who are considering a career in law, and whether she recommends law as a strong career choice.

“Definitely,” she said. ‘There are many opportunities in the legal profession today, and it’s a great career choice for young people just entering college.”

She suggested that it’s vital that young people work “very hard at being good at what you do best” and focus on that, as it is especially important for anyone considering law as a profession.

“Law is a wonderful and rewarding career choice, but it’s also a competitive field, so anyone considering a legal career needs to be fully committed to hard work and excellence”, she suggested. And also, it’s important for young people to become, and stay engaged in their local communities.”

Jones Walker recently went through a firm “rebranding” and is now focused more than ever on its clients and communities, in providing the expertise of a major firm with the local focus of a smaller firm.

“We see this as vital in our engagement in Mississippi, as well as all of the other states where we operate.”

Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.

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About Alan Turner