SALMONS: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former staterepresentative W. Terry McBrayer represented Greenup County in the 98th District from 1966-1972. The interview was conducted by Roy Salmons for the University of Kentucky Library Kentucky Legislative Oral History Project on July 12, 2006 in the office of W. Terry McBrayer in Lexington, Kentucky at 3:00 PM.
[Pause in recording.]
MCBRAYER: One, two, three, four, ladies and gentlemen, one, two, three,four.
SALMONS: We are good. Okay. I want to thank you for a second tointerview with you, sir, and the first thing I would like to do is take a chance to follow up with some questions we had in our last interview. If you don't mind.
MCBRAYER: No, go ahead.
SALMONS: Okay. You said that you were born September 1, 1937, inIronton, Ohio. Was it strange at the time for a person in that area to be born in a hospital? Was it like a sign of your parent's social position or was it relatively normal? 1:00
MCBRAYER: Well, uh, uh, my parent's social position at the time was very,uh, very humble. Uh, I think the hospital in Ironton was the only one around, and the doctor, as I recall, was the only one that, uh, around that was across the river in Ohio and, uh, , uh, I think it was that period of time when the transition of being born at home and being born in a hospital. , uh, my, my, as I said, before my father had a very limited education; my mother didn't complete her college degree. ----- -----(??) until I was through law school so neither had much--other than a wonderful family and a great garden, I guess. (laughs)
SALMONS: And speaking of your parents, I believe you told me your father2:00was a machinist for the C & O Railroad for forty years.
SALMONS: And your mother was a teacher and a principal.
SALMONS: How hard did they push you to further your education?
MCBRAYER: Well, that's one, of course, the benefits that I had wasthat they were, uh, my father always wanted things for me that he didn't get himself. He had a very difficult childhood with difficult parents and a lot of sadness on that side of the family. And, uh, and my mother was of a, of a real strong, God-fearing family. And, uh, and, uh, it was the support that I got from them, the entire family, that encouraged me to go on to college and law school. I got a lot of support from the family; it was a family effort. You didn't have student loans; you didn't have anything, or you didn't have rich parents. And so, you had to have the entire family ---------(??) as a 3:00project to give you twenty dollars or ten dollars or whatever, and help you, and then you worked every hour that you could work to pay your tuition and board and whatever.
MCBRAYER: So it was a, it was a major effort, and that is one of thethings, of course, that is lacking today. You know, if you can't skin them out of student loan and then try not to pay it back or something to that effect, uh, you know, they don't, they're not willing, a lot of kids are just not willing to sacrifice. It's the, it's the, you know, the spoiled generation but not much we can do cause we created it. We created this generation of spoiled kids, and, uh, but, uh, the country will pay dearly for that one of these days.
SALMONS: That's really interesting that you said that because that leadsdirectly into my next question. What do you think of the work ethic of modern teenagers and young adults? 4:00
MCBRAYER: Well, it's not very good. That's not all the fault of theteenagers. We've lowered our work ethic. We think, you know, forty hours a week is overworked anymore. And, uh, five days at most should we work. And, uh, short-hour days at that and, uh, I am not impressed with our productivity; I'm not impressed with our work ethic, and I came from the old school, and of course, a lot has changed since then, but still it's the, it's the guy or gal who's willing to hustle and put in the time and the effort that will succeed in this world. And, uh, but in but the problem is there's so many of them out here that don't know what that is. They don't know what hard work is, or what 5:00they think is hard work is not hard work. And so, those standards have lowered to the point that, that when some a lot of young people think they are working hard, they really aren't. And in the scheme of things when and you don't want to even get into the India, China, uh, ------ ---(??), you know all over the world, Bangladesh and the countries that will work seven days a week, twelve hours a day, and get paid a hundred bucks a month. Uh, we don't even need to get into that. But a lot of the young people are not willing to work at, uh, they kinda want to be senior vice-president or president right off the bat.
SALMONS: You're talking about a work day. How, if you can describe whenyou first started out in your law practicing, working ---------(??) other ways. What would you compare to now, what would you consider a work day for you back then?
MCBRAYER: Well, it hasn't changed a great deal. My work ethic hasalways been strong, and I, and I think I got that inherited that by both parents. Everybody had two jobs. All the time. Uh, everybody 6:00worked. Uh, so, we did it all and then everybody in our entire family and, and extended family worked. And, and, uh, uh, so I would always go to the office in little Greenup at eight o'clock and sometimes I'd go home to eat at six and then come back and work until nine or ten, and for the first seven or eight, or well, maybe ten years of our practice, John McGinnis and I, we'd be there near ten o'clock every night. And we always worked on Sunday evenings. We worked, we worked five days a week, then Saturday mornings, takeoff at noon, we'd always work Sunday night. And a lot people knew our little office was there, see our light on, and would come in, and, and would talk about a little law or issue that they had. But, uh, I've always done that. And, uh, then you, if you, if you don't establish that, that work ethic late in 7:00life, you establish it early in life. It's not instill in you early in life; you're never gonna to get it. You're never gonna, you're never gonna hustle, and, and particularly, you know, the extremely bright kids, if they use it well, they don't have work as hard physically. but for the average kid or the average person that's got mental to, uh, or, or normal to a little, uh, higher IQ, and got decent grades, if he supplements that with hard work, he's gonna do a lot better than if he just does, worrying about when the vacation days are, and all that sort of thing.
SALMONS: So, do you think that the change to push from 40 to 37.5 hourweek, that's, I'm sure you've seen in the news, the push for more vacation. Do you think that's a mistake on the part of the many of these companies?
MCBRAYER: Well, if they all spent it with their families during thatperiod of time, or something instead of, instead of one playing golf 8:00and one playing tennis and, you know, and all that. Uh, but, but the point of it is, it's, uh, this country was founded on people that were, uh, uh, wanted to be independent and wanted to, to chart their own future, and, and, and they wanted democracy, and freedom of speech, and freedom of, of, of, to vote, freedom of religion, and whatever, and, but also the freedom to work. And, and the trouble, again, is that the low, lower-paying jobs, the start jobs nobody will take them. If they don't, if they do, they won't stay very long. And, uh, so I, I think initiative has been taken out of, there're too many comforts to stay at home in your room, or whatever, with, with all the high-tech stuff. And , uh, and so it's, uh, I'm, I'm, I think we've got a long way to 9:00go before we kind of turn this country around toward a more positive attitude and a more hard-working workforce.
SALMONS: You speak a lot about family, which I can tell it's veryimportant to you.
SALMONS: Do you believe that the sense of family that existed when youwere young still exists today? Or has the extended family broken down?
MCBRAYER: Well, you know, again, everything has changed since I started,you know, the family, or whatever, and it's all changed. It's, uh, it's changed to the extent that you have so much more. Back when I was growing up, you didn't have anything. Number one, nobody had any money. And everybody was about the same. Their dads either worked at Armco Steel or Ashland Oil or railroad. Uh, their mothers generally worked as well, on a lesser job generally. But, uh, uh, and the kids didn't have much to do. Uh, and, and so, uh, now they all have cars better 10:00than their parents, and their girls wear shoes that they paid more than their mother paid for hers. The boys have sports jackets that are more expensive than their dads' got, and all that. And, and it's, it's, and, and generally speaking, and I'm just talking generally, generally speaking kids didn't participate in, in, in helping on the purchase. And so, I think that this dramatically changed. The families are pulled apart rather than together today. So I see, see them pulled in all these different directions. And, uh, uh, you know, the soccer moms. And, and then the, the frustration, you get into the frustration of, can I be his soccer coach and can I be a good lawyer at the same time. Well, the problem with that is that the, is that the lawyer that leaves at four o'clock can't, uh, can't produce like the lawyer that 11:00stays there until six o'clock. And so, the challenge anymore is trying to be a, a good producer or provider and a good dad at the same time, or a good mom. And, uh, so it's, it's, it's a lot more challenging, uh, today than it used to be, and, and, um, because there has been a basic breakdown of the family. And that's just caused by a lot of, a whole lot of issues, a whole lot of reasons for that. But there has been an obvious breakdown of the family unit, you know.
SALMONS: If you don't mind me asking, in your opinion, what do you thinkis the biggest issue that has led to the breakdown of the family?
MCBRAYER: Well, that's difficult to say. Um, money, the money and thelack thereof is generally the, the, if you trace all the roots back 12:00to a lot of the problem. Uh, and, and, and that is not easily solved, although I see a deterioration of the middle-class because we give tax breaks for the rich, and whatever, and the top 1 percent, and, and when you, you squeeze the middle-class, they're the ones that really get hurt. And, and, uh, so it's tougher and tougher to maintain, uh, uh, the standard of living of what, of what you're trying to do. And, and it's, and kids are extremely expensive to raise anymore. And, and, and generally speaking again, they don't participate in that financially themselves, you know. And, uh, uh, so, the, the breakdown of the family is caused by, uh, a number of things, but I think it's primarily that we try to, we try to make our kids adults way before they're ready 13:00to be adults, and we try to give them everything that we own(??), and, and, and they became pretty much, as I say, a spoiled generation. Uh, but that also takes a lot of money. And so, when you try to provide that money for the kids, I think there's a, I think it, it ultimately, uh, culminates in the breakdown of the, of the family to a certain extent, because so much of it is driven by money.
SALMONS: You were talking about the soccer moms/soccer dad coaching.
SALMONS: Would you say that, a, a lot of studies are saying that parentsare trying to be friends with their child and being, you know, involved, is it more important to be your child's friend or to be their parent?
MCBRAYER: Well, I've tried it both ways and sometimes I think it worksand sometimes it didn't work, but it's, it's, it's, it's, I'll say with 14:00the leagues, the sports, the leagues, and whatever, that, uh, they have now that I think it does help when the parents spend that time with them, whether it's in a car going to a soccer match, or, or whatever, but trying to be a, a friend is great, if you can pull it off. But at the same time you've got to, you've got to be the parent, and you've got to, and they've got to be the child. And they, they just can't run your life. And, uh, if you don't watch it, they'll, you'll, you'll end up letting them run you life. And, uh, and then they'll, there's an increasing show of, of, uh, irresponsibility as they go forward and then they get out into the world, whether it's high school, or college, or an advanced degree, or whatever, they're just not prepared for any of it. And then they make a lot of dumb mistakes. And they, they, they get in debt, and, and, and whatever, because they don't have any comprehension of what money is. They don't understand the value of 15:00a dollar and those sorts of things, because, generally speaking, they haven't worked for it.
SALMONS: So, I'm, I don't want to put words into your mouth, but wouldyou say that one of the most important things for a young adult teenager is to have a job while they're young and learn the responsibility?
MCBRAYER: Absolutely, and, and, and be required to be there at a certainhour, and, and, uh, uh, leave at a certain hour and held accountable it they don't. You know, you, you got to learn accountability, you got to, you've got to learn, uh, uh, the value of a dollar. And, and you've got to learn responsibility. And so, if it's not instilled in you as a young person, you really have a hard time picking it up as an adult. And if you make two or three early mistakes, as, as young adults, it never leaves you because the computer age, everything you do that's not necessarily good follows you the rest of your life. 16:00
SALMONS: There's many studies, I, I think you can open a paper every dayand see that, that violence of crimes among younger adults is on, is on the rise--
SALMONS: --and that, uh, just(??) overall disrespect for authority.Would, what do you think is the root cause of that and what could be done to help that?
MCBRAYER: Well, boy, that's a tough one. Um, unemployment's very,uh, very serious, and we have a lot of unemployable people. Then we have some people, we have a lot of people who won't, that are un-, that are employable but won't work. So you've got the unemployable, you've got the, uh, uh, and then you've got those that won't, won't, uh, work. And, and, and so, if you don't, if you can't get them into the workforce, and, and, uh, all they're doing is running around terrorizing their parents, because they don't have any source of 17:00income, or whatever. Uh, but, uh, and, and, uh, the, the drug part of it, you know, always factors into these things, is really, I hear it every day. I just hung up the phone talking to a, a parent whose kids thirty-seven, thirty-eight, got drug problems. I talked to one of my great friends yesterday, asked my advice on it. His son was thirty- six, living at home with him, and, and he and his wife, uh, are hooked on methamphetamines. And I mean, it just goes on and on. And it just stuff, I wasn't raised in that age, and so I don't have the flavor of appreciation of it. Uh, you know, I remember, we, as kids, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, maybe could sneak and get a, a, a can of beer and we didn't know exactly what to do with it. But now, it's all crazy stuff. It's all drugs and things that, um, uh, are really detrimental 18:00to your health in a permanent way, but detrimental to the rest of your life, it's, you know. You know, if like, if we hire somebody in this law firm, we'd never ever, we get on the computer and check them out, look for arrest records, and all that sort of thing, but ever, if you ever thought that drugs touched their life, you're not gonna touch them. So it's, you know, it's a never-winning battle that, uh, uh, the law enforcement, uh, they've got the protection of the juvenile, and I think that's, I think that's good in law enforcement, and you've got opportunity to erase their record, you know, if they do certain things, and I think that is good. But, uh, it's a certain element of this country that just is, uh, not willing to work, not gonna work, and, uh, uh, is gonna to cause trouble. And, uh, that, those the guys that end up in prison. But they also cause a lot of the trouble. And, uh, 19:00drain a lot of resources from our city and state coffers.
SALMONS: You're speaking of the drug problem. One of the most common,uh, solutions is to lock people up, and putt in prison, which usually leads to a more hardened criminal when they get out. Do you think, what is your opinion on the methods that's used to handle people with drug addictions?
SALMONS: --and the crimes they commit?
MCBRAYER: Well, as again, I have had very little experience with,with people that have been involved in drugs. I've seen more, uh, alcoholism in families than I have drugs, although(??) but I hear about a lot about it. And, uh, it's obviously a very, very difficult thing, and of course the more affluent the family, the more help you can get for these people. But, uh, there's an element out there that are never just, never gonna assume responsibility, and they're always gonna stay on these drugs. And, uh, I could just never really grasp how people could get hooked on drugs and, and, and stay on them for that. 20:00And, and, and, uh, but obviously they do, and there's a whole lot of them out there. Uh, and so then you say, uh, legalize marijuana, or legalize cocaine, or methamphetamine, or whatever, and then the demand will go down. It's saying like banning the book in Boston, you know. I don't know, I'd have a hard time ever doing that, but, uh, it just seems that, uh, there's so much money in it that people just continue to sell it, and people just continue to buy it. I, I just, but I don't really a good flavor or appreciation of why in the devil these kids do that. But they certainly do. First experimenting and then second they get hooked on it. And, uh, for a person who's, like myself, I don't understand how people get hooked on anything, but obviously 21:00the chemistry of some people just heads it that way, and they do get hooked. And, uh, uh, whether the rehab programs work, some of them do, some of them don't. I've, I've known successful people gone through the alcoholic program, been successful. And a number that have gone on to drug, uh, rehab program and, uh, been successful, but I've, I know others that, uh, continue to backslide. So I, I don't think that I, I have really the answer really to that question, but I, I certainly know that the problem is not going away anytime soon.
SALMONS: You mentioned earlier that if somebody applied for a job withyou, and you saw that they had a drug problem before you would never hire them. Do you believe those people deserve a second chance or do they have to, to prove--
MCBRAYER: --sure, I, sure they do. And, uh, and that was the generalstatement. But, uh, uh, we've certainly, we're done given, well, we, I said that in general, we've hired a number of secretaries, and, you know, and, and who've had problem situations and hired them and taken 22:00a chance on them. And, um, uh, frankly, I'm not aware of any lawyers, but, um, on the, on the drug issue. But, uh, you know, we've, we've, we, we try to give a lot of people second chances, and it's a fair question say, have you, have you, have you done that, and I, I say we have on, on numerous occasions hired people that were entitled to a second chance.
SALMONS: Okay. You mentioned earlier two types of people: unemployablepeople and employable people that won't work.
SALMONS: How would you define an unemployable person?
MCBRAYER: An unemployable person is a person who is either mentally orphysically handicapped in some fashion. And you can be handicapped by having(??) a subnormal IQ, or something of that point(??), or you've had such a horrible background that you are gonna be a hoodlum when 23:00your fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years, or whatever, and you're never gonna assume a responsibility. There are a lot of those running around today that are just not gonna, uh, get a job. Uh, uh, I mean, they, I mean, there're not, they're just unemployable. There's a, there's a, there's a percentage right at the bottom who are just not employable.
[Pause in recording.]
SALMONS: We were discussing about unemployable people, and you wereexpanding on that.
MCBRAYER: Well, there's a, there's a, there's an element in all ourcommunities, around 2, 3, 4 percent that are just, for various and sundry reasons, are not employable. And, uh, as I say, most of them are, they're mentally, physically, or just ain't gonna do it, because they've become a derelict for one form or another(??), a drug addict, uh, uh, uh, or, or an arrest record, of such that you can't, you're not gonna work, you know, that even a McDonald's would hire you. And, and those are the unemployables that, uh, that are always gonna be there.
SALMONS: Okay. And the employable that won't work are just, what you24:00call, how would you describe them?
MCBRAYER: The ones that won't work are just, just, uh, uh, uh, eitherhave come from a very bad family background and have not learned any kind of responsibility and not, not willing, uh, uh, to work, or those that just are not gonna work. They're gonna do it the easy way, and they got a good momma and, and maybe a daddy. But a good momma who'll take care of them, whether come rain or come shine, and, uh, they're just gonna hang out the rest of their life and not do anything other than complain. There're a lot more jobs available around if people would, you know, it's easier for me sitting up here on the tenth floor of a building with a nice big office, but, uh, it wasn't always that way. But there, there're a lot of jobs around if people would just be willing to start somewhere. Although I do believe that it's 25:00unconscionable to have a minimum wage of only $5.15 an hour. I don't believe in it. I think it's absurd, ridiculous, and everything else. And, and, and the argument is, "Oh if you raise it, we'll have to fire people, our jobs, we'll lose." You're not gonna lose any jobs at $5.15 an hour. That's what, $12,000 a year, or something like that, but it's, it's just absolutely ridiculous, and how they fight that and how they oppose that. And, uh, an increase of seventy-five, eighty-five cents or whatever. Just blows my mind.
SALMONS: What would you consider a proper living wage, not a minimumwage, a living wage?
MCBRAYER: Well, whatever meets the minimum standards that, that takesyou, and keeps you off welfare, keeps you off qualifying for welfare. That's a, that's, that ought, that's got to be some kind of living wage. Uh, uh, uh, whatever that is, or the poverty level. And they get in below poverty level, or whatever, but the poverty level is 26:00something at least that we ought to, we ought to adhere to, and, and, uh, uh, get people at least to that level. And, and, and wherever minimum wage is, get it up some, so they can begin to reach that level of, of, uh, of employment and, uh, salary.
SALMONS: You're talking about the working core who lack medical, wholack a lot of the basic advantages most jobs have. Do you feel that the government should provide those people with a type of medical insurance for them and their children to basically reward them for trying to work?
MCBRAYER: Well, we ought to do a lot better job than we're doing. Ofcourse, what we do, we don't provide them the health insurance, so they go to the hospital. They go to the emergency room, which costs you. You go in there with a hangnail, it's gonna cost you $2500, $3000, I don't know, but, but, uh, and so preventive medicine, uh, uh, generally 27:00wellness programs, those types of things pay off exceptionally well. And then they, you don't end them up, end up, in the hospital, you keep them away from the hospital, you keep them away from the x-ray machines, and them MRIs, and the CAT scans, and all of those because they're better, they're well. Uh, same thing with dentists, and we've done a better job with that. Also with optometrist, ophthalmologist, and glasses, we've done a better job with that. But the general health care, we've just have not. And, uh, uh, we spent a lot of money on, on, a lot of things that aren't, that don't contribute to the quality of health care, or to the quality of health care that that individual receives. We, we spend a lot of money on other things. And the challenge, we've got forty million people in the United States not with health care. Where do they go? They go to the hospital. They don't have any place else to go, go to the hospital. And, and, and, uh, try 28:00to sell their pain pills, if they get a prescription of it, so they can go to the doctor.
SALMONS: From our previous conversation and this conversation, I cansee that health care is of major importance to you. When we talked last time, you said you helped the, in Greenup County for the health department--
SALMONS: --to get improved. Do you feel that that improved the healthin the county and the, helped changed the medical practice, practices of Greenup County?
MCBRAYER: I don't think there's any question about it. It provided,uh, uh, a health care center where you could go, and, and, uh, receive vaccinations, and all those things that you needed. The health department was either no charge, or three dollar charge, or whatever. And it provided a full-time health nurses. And, uh, uh, even I think later a doctor, at least part-time doctor. But it also provided a, a, uh, system whereby they could, they spent time teaching, teaching wellness programs, going and talking to people about how to better 29:00health care, how to take care of themselves, and, and how to eat right, how to, to eat a, a, a good diet, and that sort of thing. So, I think it did, uh, without question, uh, help them, because, uh, the usage of it went up extensively, and, uh, uh, there's no question what they benefited. As a matter of fact, my mother would go there to get her shots, that type of thing, and even she would take the medicine, uh, as I recall, over there, and they would give her the shots, when she needed the shots, or allergy shots, or everything, and that saved a lot of money, having to go to a doctor to get an allergy shot, or whatever.
SALMONS: One of the, uh, things that have been contested about thehealth department system was there making available contraceptives to young girls and young men. How do you feel about that?
MCBRAYER: Well, I don't know how I feel about that. Um, you know, webust our ass to get, get our children to be women, and, and our sons 30:00to be virile, strong, young men. And we put them together at sixteen years of age, driving down the road in a car with a short dress, and whatever. And then what in the devil do you expect gonna happen at that point in time. And, but so, so, uh, we, we rush to get our kids as adults when they're not ready to be adults. And, uh, and then we think they are because they look like, like adults. They look physically, they're like dressed nice and they're, they're handsome, and they're good looking and attractive and whatever, but we, we, uh, we rush them into adulthood. And they, they too quickly get out of childhood. And, uh, so I don't have a strong feeling about that one way or the other. But, uh, uh, uh, so I, I just gonna have to pass on that. 31:00
SALMONS: Okay. As one of the one, I mean, uh, a question that goesalong with that. Uh, what do you think about the Planned Parenthood clinics in and around most, most of the major cities?
MCBRAYER: Well, Planned Parenthood, it's. (pause) Well. I think,you know, planned parenthood, generally, I think you, you, the, the, anytime you are instructing a parent how to take care of a child, or how to have the child, and, and, and have a healthy child, I think that's important. I think we probably, you know, the, the, there're efforts being made throughout the United States in the health care system. Once you find that that mother is pregnant, to be able to take care of the child, to see that the child is born healthy, because so much money is spent in the area of health care. And, uh, uh, in the area of premature babies. And, uh, uh, it's, uh, uh, so the better 32:00that child is when the child's born, the better. On, on the abortion issue, uh, I might, uh, I feel that, uh, the mother should have the right to choose, uh, particularly, you know, uh, rape or incest. And, and, uh, but I do think that we also spend a lot of time over, over the abortion issue, and generally speaking, I've never found anybody that really changes their mind. Or very few. And I think we've spend a lot of time and effort on trying to convince people one way or the other, but, but I don't know that it has changed many. I think everybody pretty much, it's where they are on the abortion issue, and I don't know that they're gonna change.
SALMONS: One of the byproducts of the abortion issue is the ability33:00of stem cells. What do you think about the current ban on stem cell research in America?
MCBRAYER: Well, I thought the Bush proposal was a little unreasonableor was unreasonable. I think you've got to have stem cell research. It's, you know, it's, it's got so many, there're so many opportunities to, uh, it could lead to so many things, possible cure disease and whatever, that, uh, you've got to do it. And, and, uh, with anything like that, there's an element of risk, but I think they, I think it was demagogue too much, and you try to throw a scare tactic in there. But I, I think you've got to have stem cell research. And, and those are the kinds of things that need to be on-going to, to find some of these cures for these horrible diseases, MS, uh, cancer, heart disease, and on, and on, and on, Lou Gehrig's disease, and whatever. And some of this stem cell research might be able to help. 34:00
SALMONS: (pause) Sir, we've done a really, a thorough discussion ofhealth care. And I would like to go back and talk some more with you about your family. You were able to go to college, and, but you have two sisters. What was their opportunities at that time?
MCBRAYER: They had the same opportunity; uh, one of them took advantageof it and one of them didn't. And one of them was a, an x-ray technician. And, uh, the other one was the brightest one of all three, but she just, she wasn't, she had, she had not matured at the point, if would've stayed(??) in school, and so she didn't. She went to Lincoln Memorial University, and then quit, I think, and then went to work at Ashland Oil. Uh, uh, it was just one of those unfortunate things because she had so much talent and ability, but didn't take advantage 35:00of it at the time, and I know she's regretted it the rest of her life.
SALMONS: Do you feel that was unique, relatively unique in your familybecause at the time of their college, being college age, a lot of women didn't go to school, or they was just starting.
MCBRAYER: Yeah, I was in law school, there were only two girls in lawschool, uh, in, in our, you know, in my class. And, uh, so, uh, uh, yeah, but, but in, in, um, in our little Greenup independent school, there was a teachers, and whatever, all kind of pushed you, so there was an effort generally to try to get you to, some of the better students, to go on and get a, a better education. So, there was a pretty good effort, influence in the school to do it as well. So, there was a, there was a good push, uh, to do it.
SALMONS: Let's see, your family has followed a lot of these standards ofwhere, if, uh, a father has a college education, the children continue. 36:00And you said both your children had, uh, practiced law?
MCBRAYER: Well, one of them's, uh, uh, went to Denison Universityand graduated. And she's, she's in charge of five- or six hundred employees in a big law firm in Washington but is not a lawyer. Couldn't get her to go to law school. And my son is a lawyer and he's in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Russia, both, practicing international law. So, uh, uh, my daughter's close to law. And she's been in a law firm, uh, I guess, fourteen or fifteen years now, ever since she graduated from college.
SALMONS: What school did you son go to?
MCBRAYER: He went to Carroll College in Montana, Helena, Montana,undergraduate and then he went to, uh, went to University of Louisville Law School where I went. [telephone rings]
SALMONS: Pause this.
[Pause in recording.]
SALMONS: So he continued the tradition of University of Louisville LawSchool--
MCBRAYER: -- ---------(??)--
SALMONS: --did your dad have anything to do with that or was that hischoice?
MCBRAYER: Well, partly both, a little of both, a little of both. He37:00finally matured to the point he wanted to go to law school. And he got, he, uh, you know, he decided to do it and went ahead and did it. And he's doing very well at the present time. Makes his, makes his old man happy.
SALMONS: Did you son go straight to law school after undergrad or did hetake a while off and do some other things?
MCBRAYER: No, my son did a little bit of everything before he finallygot out of law school, but he was extremely bright. And, uh, he had a hard time of just getting it all in gear. And a lot of start-stop, start-stop stuff. And, uh, but as I say, he finally got it all together and, uh, I think, I think younger people have a harder time these days of maturing, because they haven't seen a lot of the tougher times. And so, they don't really, uh, as I said earlier, uh, assume that responsibility for their own life. They lean on everybody, leans 38:00on their parents. And you handle my life, you buy my car, you, uh, take me to Florida, or better still, give me the money, and I'll go with a bunch of kids, type stuff. And, so they, they just don't learn that, and so I think it takes longer and longer to, you know, for them to, to develop the, the degree of responsibility that needs to, to take care take charge of your own life. And, uh, so he finally, he finally was finally able to do that.
SALMONS: There's a theory that successful parents make it harder to havesuccessful children. Would you--
MCBRAYER: --good point(??), sure.
SALMONS: Do you believe that as a parent should not give their childeverything they can, make the child work, or use it like a reward system, which do you think would be better to help children mature?
MCBRAYER: Well, there's a happy medium, and I don't think I did a verygood job, because I was so busy trying to make enough money to send 39:00them to private schools. And, and, and have a, a good quality of life. And so, again you're back to being pulled between quality of life issues and being closer with your family. And I, I wish I had spent more time with the family. And, but at the same time, if you, you do that you don't have, or at least that was my situation, everybody's situation is differently, different, but those that I see that are of, of rather humble backgrounds are trying to be successful, so they can provide the children with the quality of life issues. And, uh, when you do that, it's hard to, to be there as they call their friend, uh. And going to all their soccer games, or ballgames, and stuff like that. And so it's, it's not easy being a kid today, I don't think, but it's certainly not easy being a parent. And that's a big challenge in 40:00and of itself.
SALMONS: What would you feel is a parent's greatest responsibility totheir child?
MCBRAYER: Well, that's, that's fairly easy. Lead by example. You, you,you, uh, a child turns out a whole lot like their parents, due, in, in many respects, if they're reasonably successful, or the other way. Uh, they, they develop a lot of early traits from their parents. And, uh, so you've got to lead by example. And, uh, show honesty, integrity, willing to work, eagerness to help around the house, family, uh, uh, those types of things. And so, I think it's the example that you lead. And, uh, too many of us, as I say, spend too much time on quality of 41:00life issues. I mean, the money try to get you a good quality of life. And probably not enough at the kid's soccer games, but the pressures are so great these days is that, as I say, it's really very, very difficult to, to do both.
SALMONS: You alluded that you sent both of your children to privateschools. Was that through high school and grade school or just in the high school area?
MCBRAYER: Well, it was a combination. We sent them to some publicschools, and then my son went to private schools, and then went to private colleges. Uh, he went to, uh, a private school in, uh, New England for five years. And, uh, one year in a, uh, Tennessee. Uh, and, uh, and those were very expensive years, but, uh, they were necessary for him, and I think ultimately it helped him a lot.
SALMONS: How would you rate public versus private school at this time?
MCBRAYER: Well, at the time there wasn't much, you know, it, it was all42:00very, very expensive, a private school was. But when I was putting John in a private school, it would cost me thirty thousand dollars a year. Uh, in, in Massachusetts and I didn't really have that money but it, it, it, uh. And, and so, uh, but, uh, it, it was very expensive. And, uh, uh, but the private schools are, are, uh, more, there certainly are more private universities, college universities, and, and high schools, but again they're very expensive. And so, you take the average wage earner, uh, anymore, if he's living in a decent house, by the time you make your house payment, and your, your kid's, if you're sending them to private school, and in grade school and high school, you don't have much left out of your paycheck.
SALMONS: Do you think it's still possible for children to get a good43:00valid education in a public school?
MCBRAYER: I think so. Yeah, I think so. You can't do away with them.And I, and I, and I've always worried about vouchers, whether that's a good, a good, you know, whether that's good, bad, or indifferent, I'm not certain. But we got to, we got to keep the public high schools. And, and they're just, we've got to keep the public school systems, and keep them, and make them more vibrant and strong. And, uh, I know a lot of people are worried about that now. And I think more efforts are being made on it. But, uh, that's not an easy one to solve. Although I don't know why we don't go to, use the schools more, I don't why we don't go on, on a rotating basis twelve months a year, uh, those type things. I've never understood why we don't use our schools more for other events. And more, uh, uh, and, and, and three 44:00months a year they, they basically sit idle. I don't understand why we don't use our school buses to haul senior citizens. I don't know why we don't have a senior citizens center at the high school, so you use the same cafeteria and the same rooms and, uh, share other things like that. But anyway, those are things I think that drive up costs, and really you don't get any benefit out of it.
SALMONS: Recently, I know in the state of Kentucky in the last tenyears, there's been, there's been a trend not to separate students, you know, they keep functionally, barely functional students with the gifted students.
SALMONS: Do you think that's a problem in the public school system?
MCBRAYER: Well, it's special ed, and some of the other things that havetaken a -------------(??), I do think that the handicapped folks, or 45:00the kids that have handicaps, or physical, or mental handicaps, and still allow them to go to public schools, I think have generally been pretty well taken care of by their instructors. They, they, they I think, all in all, I think they've done a reasonably good job. I don't know that for an absolute fact, but I don't hear many parents complaining about it. Uh, and whether or not you mainstream them or, or teach them, you know, in separate classrooms, I'm not certain. Some are disruptive, I know that. And that doesn't help anything, but as many as you can mainstream, you, you certainly want to do it, particularly if the class level is down to nineteen, twenty kids in a classroom. But, uh, the teacher has a, a, a huge responsibility, uh, for these kids, and I think all in all they're doing reasonably decent, 46:00but the only trouble with trying to compare with these other countries now, these other countries are absolutely committed to an education and committed to higher education and committed to an engineering degree, and, uh, math degree, and, uh, all of these, uh, degrees, and whatever, and science, and whatever. And they're hungry for it, like we used to be. We're not hungry for it anymore.
SALMONS: You were able to go to two types of schools. You went to oneeastern Kentucky school, Morehead, then you went outside the region to Louisville for law school.
[Pause in recording.]
SALMONS: We were speaking of your attending both, uh, eastern Kentuckyand outside the area for schooling. Do you think that enabled you to meet people that influenced and helped your future political campaigns?
MCBRAYER: Well, I think, as much as anything, it showed me a littleof the world I really didn't know much about. And, uh, you know, sometimes kids in small towns in eastern Kentucky really don't see much 47:00of the world and recognize that there's something on the other end. I, when I, uh, my speech professor that I talked earlier about in college, I was about to get married to this girl. And, and, uh, I just thought I was in love for the rest of my life, and it was the most wonderful gal. And, and he, he brought me in, he talked to me, he said, "My boy," said, "there's something on the other side of these mountains, and you need to go see them. You need to see what's on the other side of the mountain. And, uh, and if you go ahead and get married and do this now, you'll never go on the other side of the mountain." And so, ultimately I did, and of course, I've never regretted it. But, but, uh, yeah, I think the, the, the fact that I was able to get out of the, the, uh, small town syndrome, it gave me a bigger picture of life. And, uh, I don't think there's any question but what it helped me. 48:00
SALMONS: Do you feel that people from Appalachia face unfair stereotypeswhen they go to schools to, to further their education?
MCBRAYER: I don't think so. I think that, you know, at, at the schoolthere's a whole lot of people that, that come from tough backgrounds, whether it's a, uh, uh, whether it's a, uh, in the so-called ghetto in Cleveland, or, or, or Appalachia, or from, from eastern, uh, Tennessee, or western West Virginia, wherever it is, so I don't think that they do. I, I, I, uh, they, they all kinda learn quickly, and everybody develops their own set of friends. And I, generally speaking, I say, I say that, that no, I, I think they've got a shot, just like everybody else, as long as they, their, their finance and, not, not financially handicap. Some might not have as good a background in 49:00math and the sciences and things like that, but with the equalization, uh, legislation, uh, they, they should be getting the same or equal opportunity for elementary and high school education in eastern Kentucky as they would in Louisville or wherever else.
SALMONS: Okay. There's two schools of thought on that; if people wereto lose their accent, that they're losing their heritage. What is your view on that?
MCBRAYER: Well, of course, I, I left my, I lost my accent, and, uh, it,it, it gave me, uh, a lot of, a lot of benefits to me, uh, personally, uh, but I never thought that I left my heritage.
MCBRAYER: Like, what is it, uh, who was it, Will Rogers, I don't knowwho said it, whoever, may, maybe it was Happy, even, Governor Chandler 50:00had never met a Kentuckian, a Kentuckian who wasn't going home. And, uh, uh, and so, uh, no, I don't, I don't think it's, I think the challenge is to, to face a real world: don't hide behind a mountain; don't hide behind a shack; don't hide behind anything. Get out and do it. And, and, uh, uh, the challenge is to lose the accent, not to keep it. The challenge is to recognize other parts of the state and the country and the world and not to maintain that status quo. Uh, always learning, always changing, always, uh, trying to trade up, as they say, all the time. And the, the challenge is to bring kids out of the mountains to get them educated. And then, of course, hope that, 51:00uh, most of them go back, but they've got to have a reason to go back. They've got to have an opportunity to go back. And so, when you don't have the opportunity, you're gonna lose that person that you've brought out of the mountains to, to educate, and then no reason to go back. I went back. I, I, of course, in Greenup, Ashland's not necessarily the mountains, but it's northeast Kentucky. But I went back and I stayed until I was thirty-seven or thirty-eight, but I still am very active, uh, up there with the law office in Ashland and Greenup, and we own a radio station up there, and some other stuff. And my mother and family are still up there. And so, uh, I don't think I lost my heritage by the, when I lost my, uh, accent; I think I gained, uh, a, a different perspective of the world.
SALMONS: Okay. Were your teachers surprised when you returned toeastern Kentucky to practice law?
MCBRAYER: Now what?52:00
SALMONS: Were your teachers surprised when you went back?
MCBRAYER: No, I was always planning on doing that. I was a, I wasalways a kinda a hometown boy. And, uh, I don't think it surprised anybody that I came back. I always had a close relationship, particularly, with my mother. My father was working all the time, and I didn't have as close a relationship with him as I did my mother. But she was working all the time too, but at the same time became close with her. And, uh, closer I guess and, and, uh, but no, I, I went back and I stayed with my mother and dad for a while, and I, I practiced law, and then got married, and moved around the corner. So, I don't think it surprised anybody. I was just, it was kinda one of those things that I think everybody thought I was gonna do.
SALMONS: Okay. When you went to law school, you received a scholarship.
SALMONS: Was federal financial aid available at that time?
MCBRAYER: No, there was no federal aid or anything available then that Iknow of. 53:00
SALMONS: Do you, do you know remember when it started becoming available?
MCBRAYER: No, sometime after that when I was in college, I had thosesmall scholarships. But, uh, uh, I don't think financial aid was available then that I can remember. I didn't take financial aid but, uh, it was, uh, it was all that we could scrape up to keep me going, though I know that.
SALMONS: We were talking last time, you said you had a partial musicscholarship and a partial baseball scholarship.
MCBRAYER: Yeah, and an academic scholarship, right, yeah, at Morehead.
SALMONS: What was your sports career like in college?
MCBRAYER: Well, it was, it was not very long. It, uh, uh, the, uh, Iwent out for baseball. I had a little scholarship, very small one, and went out for baseball. And, and I was playing second base, and it just so happened that a fellow named Fats Tolle who's a friend of mine, still here in Lexington, was playing second base, and then there was a fellow named Steve Hamilton who was pitching for them. And he went on 54:00and played for a wonderful career for New York, New York Yankees, and was their spokesperson for the, for the, uh, league for a long time. A wonderful friend of mine but he was, he would take pitching practice while I was taking batting, uh, batting practice, and so I didn't show too much power at the time, cause he was striking me out all the time. And then I got into a conflict with my music scholarship because when they want me to be in the band or choir or something I was at baseball practice. So I ended up, I lost my music scholarship because I was always taking baseball practice at the time. And then I didn't ultimately make the team for the baseball. So I, I was back to, uh, scrapping again. So I lost them both because I was trying to do more 55:00things than I was capable of doing, I guess, at that time.
SALMONS: How were you able to make up the money to continue yourschooling?
MCBRAYER: Well, it was a combination of always had a job, always had agood job, summer job. And, uh, then my parents and grandparents and aunt and others made up the difference.
SALMONS: You, when we spoke last time, you spoke of how Adron Doran andhis wife were very involved in your--
SALMONS:--your post, uh, bachelor, post undergraduate career?
SALMONS: Did they stay involved with you after you finished law schooland you got involved in politics?
MCBRAYER: Yeah, oh yeah, they stayed involved throughout my life. Mrs.Doran's still alive I've, uh, we've, uh, been very close to them. Dr. Doran died three years ago, I think it was. And, uh, uh, until his death, we took them to the Greenbrier every year to celebrate his birthday. And his birthday and mine were on the same day. , uh, Mrs. 56:00Doran's still living; she's in the, uh, up here at the Woodlands, and we spend a lot of time with her over the years. And, uh, stay in touch very closely with her, but Dr. Doran and I were wonderful buddies. And, uh, so to the day he, uh, he died, uh, and then when he died, I had just had an operation and couldn't get out of the house, couldn't walk hardly. So I really didn't get to bid him farewell. But, uh, but, uh, he and I spent a lot of time together. And, uh, I probably went to see him in the hospital fifty, sixty, seventy times while he was there. And, uh, Mrs. Doran's in reasonably good health, and she's 95. And so we visit with her and go out to dinner a lot, and take her to places.
SALMONS: How did your business, uh, education affect your practice oflaw and approach to politics? Did it give a different perspective than 57:00people with a humanities background?
MCBRAYER: Well, the, the, sometimes it, it, it, the trouble is that, uh,I ventured out into business and I had a semblance of a tax background a little bit, and so when I started practicing law, I filled out income tax. So I didn't have anything else to do. And so, uh, as I say, my first income was coming from tax returns, uh, way before it got complicated. And so I used that to help me get started, and then just having a good background in, in, I had, think I had twenty-two or twenty-three hours in accounting. I can't remember. But all those business courses and whatever helped me just in the practice of law. So many kids come out and don't have a real understanding of what the real world is like, and the issues of the real world, and the side issues that you got to see in a legal problem. And, uh, so it was helpful to me and I've been involved in lots of businesses throughout, 58:00uh, my life; some successful, some not successful. Uh, but, uh, I've been, been involved but it particularly helped me in my law practice cause I could, I could more quickly understand a, a client's problem, if he had a, it particularly, if it had a business component to it, I could have generally a quicker and better grasp of it, because I'd either been there or, or, uh, had, had experienced it firsthand or, or through a, through a book, one way or the other, but I, I did have that. And the financial background has helped me to be able to read a, a balance sheet or a P & L or perform(??) on those sorts of things.
SALMONS: Outside of your practice of law, what's the favorite businessthat you've been involved in?
MCBRAYER: Well, I've been involved in, uh, the development of land, I've59:00been involved in horses, I've been involved in, uh, uh, the development of subdivisions, and, and, uh, uh, buying and selling houses. I've been involved in several other, uh, matters of, of businesses. And, uh, I frankly, probably en-, enjoy the practice of law better than any of them. I, I, I did the business outside business, because it looked like an opportunity at the time to enhance, enhance my, uh, uh, financial situation at the time. and, uh, so I just, I just, I generally I didn't particularly enjoy any of them overwhelmingly, other than the hustle and bustle of trying to make something work at the time, or, or to buy a piece of property, and turn it over, and get a 60:00quick return on your dollar, and that sort of thing. So, uh, none of it was really exciting to me. Uh, I've owned, we've owned restaurants. And, uh, been involved in restaurants, apartments built and developed apartments, radio station, uh, those sorts of things. And, uh, uh, but I really get back to the practice of law, and, uh, work in, in my law firm business probably the most pleasurable part of my professional career.
SALMONS: We were speaking last time, you said that when you were at theUniversity of, uh, Louisville's law school you worked as a maitre d'. How did that type of job help you to develop an ability to read people?
MCBRAYER: How did it help me to develop what?
SALMONS: An ability to read people. Did it affect that?
MCBRAYER: Well, of course, you know, yeah, I mean, my life has beensurrounded, I mean, I've been surrounded by people my, my entire professional life and personal life. Of course, of course, you've got to like people also and I like people. I enjoy people. I enjoy 61:00helping people. And, and, and giving them advice or helping them get out of a situation, either for a, for a fee or not. But I, I, I get called on a lot of times for a lot of people who just for general advice that I don't charge, or whatever, and, and I enjoy that, uh. But, uh, uh, most of my life is from cutting grass to delivering papers to, uh, cleaning chickens to, you know, a whole gamut of things that I've done, the picking tomatoes selling them door-to-door has been involved, it's, uh, people involvement. And I think the fact that, uh, I've been around people all of my life, and, and, uh, both professionally and personally, and I was active in the church all growing up and through college and law school and later. And, and, uh, then my mother had 62:00a wonderful, outgoing personality, and I inherited that from her. My dad was, uh, lower-key, uh, kind of introverted, uh, uh, always kind of embarrassed that he didn't have good education, and came from a pretty tough background, uh, family-wise, and I always felt that he felt really inferior about all of that. and, uh, but I developed that and I, I, I think I developed some very strong principles from my grandfather, who was my mother's father, who helped raise me as well.
SALMONS: When you first meet a person, what's the first thing you noticethat makes the first impression on you? What's the first thing you look for in a person?
MCBRAYER: Well, there's no particularly first thing whether it make a63:00good or bad impression. Uh, but things do make an impression. But, uh, I get a, a letter that not signed, somebody wants me to help them with a job. Or misspellings on a resume. or, uh, uh, uh, I'll have to say, uh, uh, I had one instance, not too long ago, this friend of mine, who had, his son, uh, this friend of mine was a lawyer in another state that sent us a lot of business, health care business. He called me, said, "You find my son maybe a job there for the summer, or whatever," and, I, he had sent us so much business, I, we were gonna to hire him regardless. And I said, "I'll take a look at him." and so the young fellow who's head of our runners brought him in, and said, "Mr. McBrayer, this is so and so. His dad," I said, "Oh yeah," and I happened to have to have his dad's telephone number there, and it was on the desk for whatever reason. He came in, and I shook his hand, 64:00and I said, "Shake my hand, again, there, son," and he said, I said, "You've got a ring on your thumb." And he's about nineteen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, doing running, or having doing a runners position here. And so, "Yes, sir, I have." And I said, "I tell you what you do. Here's your dad's telephone number at work. You go right in there and call him. And ask him if he wore a ring on this thumb when he was growing up in Olive Hill, Kentucky, if he says, yes, you can wear that ring here. If he says no, I would suggest that you take it off. And leave it off. And then you can go to work." But, uh, it's those types things that, at sometimes it's little things, not big things, it's little things that, that get you an impression. The problem 65:00with making that wrong first impression, it's very, very difficult to overcome that. If you make an unfavorable first impression on an interview, or before a jury, or whatever, for example, in this law firm, we have forty-five lawyers. And the most, the first person that talks to a client or perspective client is that wonderful receptionist that we have out there. And so, if you've got a bad receptionist, or they've got a bad voice, or they bad attitude, or whatever, it reflects on the firm. They'll think, Well, if she's that bad, the law firm is that bad or the lawyer's no good, whatever. Fortunately, we have a very, very fine gal that's been there almost fifteen years. Wonderful gal. But it's, it's, it's just a multitude of things. But it's, uh, but to me it's things that you can, can easily have remedy, remedied. Not I couldn't buy a five hundred dollar jacket, or suit. Or, or 66:00you could tell I mean, you know, you know, those sorts of things are unimportant, as long as you're neat and presentable. And, uh, uh, I had a lawyer here that recently that, uh, we asked, uh, to go to court and whatever, and he, uh, a young one we had just hired him. Matter of fact he'd worked his way through law school here as a secretary. And we hired him to practice law. Came out of a little town in West Virginia. And they rushed around, and just all of a sudden and they needed a lawyer in a panic to go to court to cover cause another guy couldn't make it, and they got him. And he didn't have jacket to wear. Didn't have one. Didn't have a sport jacket. Or a suit jacket. And so, I brought him in, and, but we found him one, and whatever, but I 67:00brought him in later, and said, uh, "How are you doing," and all this sort of thing, I said, "Also one of the things we do for all young new lawyers is we buy them an outfit." And I said, "Here you go, buy you a suit, and a pair of shoes, and come back, and give me the bill." I didn't want to make him feel bad. So he thinks at least that everybody we buy a suit and a pair of shoes to everybody that comes in this firm. But he's very proud of both of them now. And, uh, it, uh, it, it was just one of those good things to, to do.
SALMONS: What can a young adult making a first impression on you, what'sthe worst thing they can do to get to start you on a negative footing with them?
MCBRAYER: Be late. That's one of the things, uh, be late and not have aresume with them. Or, uh, uh, hand you a resume that has misspellings, 68:00or a cover letter that isn't signed, and those kinds of little things, but you'd be surprised at the number of, of, of folks here, or young people that will come in, uh, uh, I, I just do courtesy interviews, fortunately others do most of the interviewing anymore. But you'd be surprised at the number that are late when they're wanting something from me, not necessarily a job, they wanted a freebie, or something, or whatever. I had one, I had one call me not too long ago, who's, uh, his father called me. And this fellow was, well this fellow was thirty-five or so, but his father was an old friend of mine. He said, "Would you council with my son? He needs some advice," et cetera, et cetera. I said, "Oh yeah I'll do it, you know, that's fine send him in." And it was a freebie. And, uh, he said, "I'll need about an hour 69:00of your time, and, I'll, uh, I'll, uh, you know, put me down and I'll be up there." And I said, "Well, let me tell me." Said, "Here's what we're gonna do. We'll do an hour for $300 or 15 minutes free." He said, "Oh, I think I can get it done in that fifteen minutes." And that took care of that. (both laugh) He came up here and, buddy, he was talking fast. (both laugh)
SALMONS: You, when talking about your type of business you have here,you said you get a lot of health care business.
SALMONS: Would you say that's the main field that your law firm workswith or is that one of many?
MCBRAYER: Well, that's one of them, we do, we do extensive amount ofhealth care. We do sophisticated commercial and real estate properties, and land use. Uh, we do, uh, considerable amount of, uh, businessmen's type litigation. And we do a lot of lobbying government relations. 70:00
SALMONS: Uh, when you look to hire a, a young lawyer, does it matterwhat school they went to, do you, or do you, what do you base your decision on when you look at a young lawyer?
MCBRAYER: Well, number one, I want, I want to try to hire a smartlawyer. Uh, that's the most important part of it. Uh, uh, the, the, generally the brighter, the stronger the degree is important, the stronger undergraduate degree is really important that you have, you have a good strong undergraduate degree from some university. And that, that then the GPAs got to be pretty high. And, uh, and then you've got to have done pretty well in law school. You've got to be in the top 30-35 percent of your class. We generally don't interview anybody here unless we've know them, that isn't in the top 20 percent 71:00of their class. And that's how tough it is anymore. We have maybe 25 percent of their class. But we hire law clerks at the end of their first year. And then, uh, uh, we either keep them the second year or not. And normally if they stay for the third year, we normally would try to hire them. Uh, that's not necessarily so, uh, but, uh, we, we will have seen them for a couple of years. and, uh, uh, but we try to see and try to figure out if they've good work ethic, but the problem with that is that you really can't tell that, until you've walked a mile in their moccasins, you know. You don't, you just can't tell that. And, uh, because we, we, we're not slave drivers, but at the same time we've always, everybody here, the older folks have a pretty good work ethic and expect that out of the younger ones. So, uh, 72:00trying to figure that out sometimes, uh. But number one, they've got to be bright; number two they've got a good work ethic. And they're willing to hustle. We don't want any hotshots here. And, uh, uh, and so, that's kind of what we look for. And, uh, then we, uh, we check references. If they've been any place else, which is sometimes helpful, sometimes not. Anybody calls me for a reference, I tell them straight up, said, "Listen, I'm not gonna lie to you. I don't want to lie to you cause I don't want you to lie to me when I call you." The worst thing in the world that's unfair to everybody is to give somebody a, a, you know, a, a, a reference that isn't sincere or true. And so I tell anybody and I get called a lot on people and references, and I tell them the truth. Try to. And not exaggerate one way or the other. Uh, uh, and, and so, we check out those references, and that sort of 73:00thing. Uh, so, it's those kinds of things we look for early on.
SALMONS: What type of undergraduate degrees, do you look prefer in youryoung lawyers?
MCBRAYER: Well, you know, a good strong philosophy, uh, degree is,is a very strong degree, for some flavor of business is, is, uh, is, is, is a good degree. I know in law school, they like a good strong philosophy degree, they like that. It, it, I'm sorry it, a good law philosophy degree to get into law school. And, and they do rate, uh, some, uh, degrees more than others, and give the philosophy, uh, higher marks than say, uh, communications, you know. And, uh, so, it's that type of thing that we look at.
SALMONS: Are there any certain schools you have good relationships with,74:00like, local Kentucky schools or out of state, or?
MCBRAYER: Well we try to mix it up a little bit. We have Vanderbiltgraduates; we have Michigan graduates; we have, you know, uh, University of West Virginia, and, uh, uh, a, a number of Colorado, University of Colorado; we have, we have, uh, a Duke's mixture. most of, quite a few have come from either, either UK or U of L; that's only because of, of, uh, the way it's worked in our firm, although we're, we're becoming more diversified, and as the bigger we get, we, we hire, it's not so important as it used to be, as to who are and what could you bring; we, we're looking more these days as your ability to, to practice the case. We already have the client. We don't have to worry about you having a big family or you having a, a client that you 75:00can bring to the firm. We, we look more at the quality of the person rather than the business aspects of what they might bring.
SALMONS: You said earlier that you don't hire hotshot lawyers. Whatwould you consider a hotshot lawyer?
MCBRAYER: Well, that's kind of one of those things you'll know itif you see it. But some of them that talk too much and too smart, too bright, too quick, you know, the, the, the smartest, little boy said the smartest people of the world are seniors in law school; the dumbest people in the world are first-year lawyers. And, uh, so, by the time you get out of law school, you're real cocky and feel good about yourself, but if too much of a display of that, uh, you know, if they get in the courtroom they're, they're not gonna do the bookwork to, to be ready to know how to attack that problem. And, and they're 76:00gonna try to think that you can talk your way through the issue rather than digging the books out a little bit, and, and, and then talking your way out of it with the law behind you, and knowing what you're talking about. So, it's just generally the, the, the too little, too slick, a little too polished, a little too eager, a little too, uh, uh, aggressive. You want, you want lawyers that are aggressive, uh, uh, uh, because it takes a certain degree of, of cockiness, or not, I think it's more confidence that cockiness, but a degree of confidence you can go in there and look at the older lawyer, or whatever and, and uh, look up to the judge and with a degree of confidence, uh, display that to them. I really know what I'm talking about judge when I'm telling you about the law, that's what the law is. I really know that. You know and, and, and rather than, well, I'm not certain judge whether that's 77:00the law or not or something like that. See, you need a strong person, particularly, in the courtroom area. In the health care, you need more of technically sound. You need people that can follow these rules and regulations that change daily across the United States. And, and we spend tens of thousands of dollars in our law firm every year, of our lawyers going to seminars all across the United States, trying to keep up with the changes of Medicaid, and Medicare, and all the health care related issues. And, uh, so we need different personalities for different areas of the firm, depending on whether it be, uh, going before the public, whether it be going before a jury and judges, or whether they be going before an administrative body, uh, uh, and, uh, or whether they're just doing real estate stuff where they've been asked to do it by an institution, and all you're doing is doing all the 78:00paperwork and everything to make it, so you can close the loan. A lot of difference, there's a lot of differences in those. Or whether you're lobbying govern-, uh, lobbying legislators and that sort of thing.
SALMONS: When we spoke earlier, you said when you first started yourpractice, you were pretty much ----------(??) out on your own. Do you partner your lawyers with an older experienced lawyer or do you pretty much let them sink or swim on their own?
MCBRAYER: We try to have a degree of mentoring here. We have sixsections. Uh, and where they, they are generally assigned to an older person. Uh, but we have in the past, we've certainly thrown a lot of them out on their own. Said, "Here's the file go get it." And, uh, they certainly learn a lot of law that way or rather than sugarcoat it to them. And, uh, I think some, and large, a lot of larger firms, the lawyers many of the lawyers don't even get to talk to the client for years. They don't even get to be in, participating 79:00in the conference room or on the conference call. They're back and standing. And, and, and all they do is feed the information to the more senior lawyer and he does it all. Uh, we don't do that. We try to get full participation by, by all of them. And, uh, but at the same time we try to give our business, the business that comes in, we try to give it to the lawyer in the firm that will charge the least, uh, uh, to the client. The one that can handle it, at the lowest, whatever level, whether or not you need senior partners in it, or whatever, just depends on that given situation. But, uh, we spend a lot of time, uh, uh, monitoring them, and mentoring the, uh, as, so there's a lot of camara-, a lot of camaraderie, the only trouble as we noticed that as 80:00you get bigger, of course, we got, as I say, five offices, six offices, even us being on two floors here, and about to have to take a third one, makes it awkward. You don't see--pardon me--you don't see them nearly as much, and you're, you're not able to discuss cases and stuff, because they're on the other floor, and you just don't, don't get there, although I make an effort everyday to go say hello to everybody that's in their office around both floors, just to, to let them know I'm not dead. (laughs)
SALMONS: You say you have six sections of different law practicesbasically?
MCBRAYER: We have six sections?
MCBRAYER: Well, we have basically litigation, uh, uh, real and, andcommercial real estate; uh, we have land use planning; and we have, uh, government relations, and then a businessmen's type practice. Uh, and 81:00but we, we would throw in there estate planning, that sort of thing, trademarks those, those, uh, uh, matters. The basically six that we do. We don't generally do workers' comp, we don't do divorces, uh, adoptions, bankruptcies, uh, uh, we don't, we do some, uh, defense, insurance defense but normally for the more sophisticated companies.
SALMONS: Do you have a personal favorite that you would spend more timeinvolved with?
MCBRAYER: Well, over the years, I've done a lot of administrativetype law. And, uh, I do a lot of work in government relations, the area government relation. We have a wonderful string of clients, uh, in the lobbying of government relations, and we have six fulltime professionals that are not lobbyists, they are not lawyers, I'm sorry, 82:00plus a staff of four in Frankfort. And we do lobbying for about forty different companies of some form or fashion in Kentucky and other, some other states as well.
SALMONS: You were saying that different levels of law, lawyers chargedifferent fees. Do you set the fees for they, they or do they set their own fees when they're work for you?
MCBRAYER: Well, we generally set the fee. and, uh, or at sometimes,it's a negotiated fee, between what we want to charge and what they want us to charge, and we work through those sorts of things, but it's predetermined what it is. Generally everybody knows what it is going in.
SALMONS: Okay. You're talking about being involved with lobbying. AndI believe you were one of the founding partners of the, uh, the State--
MCBRAYER: --State Capitol--
SALMONS: --Capitol law firm group.
SALMONS: Are you still involved with that?
MCBRAYER: Yeah, very much. It's a fascinating organization, and notmuch has been known about it. But we, uh, Jim Hunt, the governor of 83:00North Carolina, former governor, and Dick Riley, former governor of South Carolina calls me, and we got together with the former chief justice of supreme court of North Carolina. We formed a law firm network of one law firm in every state capitol in the nation, all tied together, formal organization, whatever. And then we, uh, one of our members was a former ambassador to Canada, so he got us in a law firm in every providence in Canada. And then the former governor of New Mexico took us into Central and South America and the former governor of Hawaii took us into the Pacific Rim. And then we began going into Western Europe and Eastern Europe and, and, uh, into Asia. We have about eighty-five countries now in it, a number of the Caribbean Islands as well. And then we have, uh, one law firm in every state 84:00capital. But then additionally, it's interesting that we got all these Asian, uh, uh, fellows, we had them from Beijing, and from Seoul, and, and wherever, all over the world, Bangladesh, whatever, uh, they, uh, they didn't need a law firm in, in say, uh, Albany, New York, they wanted New York City, and they didn't want one in Springfield, Illinois, they wanted it in Chicago, and they didn't want one in Sacramento, and so, we've gone back and we now have firms in LA and Chicago, New York City, and D.C., and that sort of thing. And, uh, so we have about nine thousand lawyers that are involved in it. And, uh, I was the original vice chairman, and then the next year, the chair of the group and I remain on the board, uh, but, uh, very active in it. We meet a minimum of twice a year. I just was able to, unable to go to Scotland, uh, cause I was on my fishing trip, but we have a 85:00meeting in Baltimore in October, and had, we had one, um, oh, I guess it was Dallas just three months ago. And, uh, so I go to at least two a year, two of them a year. And, uh, but it's a very, uh, uh, really a challenging organization. I get calls all, from all over the world, but also it's a, it's a facilitator for our clients if our clients have a problem they need an English-speaking corporate lawyer in Argentina, uh, we can quickly do that assuming that they that, it's, the hours are correct, you know, we can, we can do that. Or you have a problem with the department of insurance in Montana, we, our law firm in Montana, we've got on our computers and in our books here, we got not only the law firm but the lawyer in Helena, Montana that generally deals with the department of insurance. And so, we don't make any money in 86:00referring those, but it makes us all look good, and our clients love us for doing it. But, uh, so we've done, uh, you know, uh, we done a great deal of work throughout the world with that. And it's, it's really interesting when all of a sudden, you, you get this email from somebody in China, or, or Switzerland, or wherever, wanting you to do some work for a company that's, you know, that's, owns a radio station in Kentucky or something. And it's, uh, so we do a lot of that, and it's been financially rewarding, uh, to the firm, but it's been professionally rewarding to me, because we've been able to do it.
SALMONS: This is gonna be a loaded question because a lot of people havenot heard of this. If, if you had to just give me the purpose, just, you know, the purpose statement and goals of the group, what would you say--
MCBRAYER: --well, the purpose and goals are to, uh, to, to, uh, enhancethe quality of your work by, although we're not connected together 87:00from a legal standpoint, uh, the, the fact that it, it broadens your, you don't have to have the offices, or I mean, it's almost like having all these branch offices all over the world without having to pay the overhead. And I have access to all of these people, uh, on nearly any issue, and periodically we'll send, uh, to, uh, an, an email out to all of the voting members, asking if any of them have had experience in a given area. And do they have any, any references that they could shoot to us on a given problem in a given state, and, uh, or, or if you're, if there's a prospective client, does anybody in the network, uh, have any knowledge of this person or this client, who is it, give me background, that sort of thing. Uh, we got hired just recently on one 88:00of those situations, but we're about to get hired to handle a problem for an outfit out of Minnesota. And we, I immediately called my voting rep in Minneapolis, and asked him if he knew the folks, and said, "Oh, absolutely, know them very well, and I'll call them right now for you." And bam, we were hired to do the work, and we did a wonderful job for them, and, and, uh, we're continuing in that relationship. But anyway, it's been very rewarding in a professional sense.
SALMONS: Has it enabled you avoiding bad decisions of people youwould've worked for if you hadn't known about them?
MCBRAYER: Well, it, it, it enables you to have all of these contactsand, and gather information, and, uh, uh, problem solving from people in other places that have already experienced something you're trying to, to do for the first time, and so, you won't have to reinvent the 89:00wheel. And, uh, so, uh, those contacts are invaluable on, on, on those matters. And, uh, and also you have all those people out there, and, you know, that, when the name Kentucky comes up, they'll hopefully think of you, and, and send that client or refer that problem to you, rather than somebody else.
SALMONS: Is there an official charter for this, or is it, how does thiswork?
MCBRAYER: Well, it's, uh, it's a not for profit corporation, it's headedby the former judge of the supreme court of North Carolina, and with our offices in Washington, we have a staff of seven or eight people. And, uh, we write, for example, we write, uh, a lobbying book for West Publishing Company, each state writes a chapter about lobbying and campaign contributions in their individual states, a kind of a desk reference, and we update it every year. All fifty states participate 90:00in that. Uh, uh, and, uh, we're all dues-paying members into this group. And, uh, like, um, one of the major corporations had a problem with bankruptcy with all fifty states, and, uh, they ended up hired all fifty states, all of us to handle their problem and, and, and for, and it was high(??), it was solved almost immediately, because all of a sudden they had fifty states, fifty law firms. And that they could all took, talk to with one email, and bam, they were done. And, um, uh, it was very helpful to them at the time, so we do lots of those, uh, kinds of thing. But it, there's a structure, and it's, it, uh, obviously has a profit motive, but it also has an education motive, because I get my continuing legal education hours--fifteen--that we're required to get every year by going to these conferences and people like Elliot Spitzer 91:00are there, the attorney general of New York, or Hillary Clinton, or, or, uh, you know, lots of prominent people are speaking, presidents of companies, uh, uh, the general counsel of Caesar's, uh, or people like that so, so it's really rewarding.
[End of interview.]