Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 15, NO. 1, Pg. 38.
New President Ready to Listen
GSB JournalVol. 15, NO. 1August 2009New President Ready to Listenby Linton JohnsonAfter more than 40 successful years in the profession, one might never guess the practice of law was not among the first two career choices of Bryan M. Cavan. The new president of the State Bar of Georgia first saw himself as a clergyman, and then considered the field of diplomacy before settling on the law as his life's work.
Cavan was born in St. Petersburg, Fla. His parents, both from Massachusetts, "went to Florida for their honeymoon and never went home," he says. Actually, his father had a job waiting for him in St. Petersburg. His dad returned there after Army service in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. A few years later, when Bryan was 12, the family moved to Jacksonville.
Following his graduation from Bishop Kenny High School, Cavan entered the seminary to study for the Catholic priesthood. He attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., for his first two years. After his third year, at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Md., Cavan left the seminary and entered Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, N.C., where he finished his degree in philosophy. Knowing that law school was in his future, he minored in English and history.
Then it was on to Emory University School of Law. Cavan arrived in Atlanta with plans to finish law school and become a foreign diplomat, having known others who had taken a similar path. He had no intention of practicing law until his second year at Emory, when he happened to attend a State Bar of Georgia meeting.
"One of the speakers was a state Supreme Court justice, who talked about the need for good litigators," Cavan recalls. "I sort of got the bug. Local trial lawyers came to Emory to work with us on trial techniques. I truly enjoyed those classes." His proficiency got him on Emory's International Moot Court team, and he argued in the regional competition at Duke University in his third year. For a number of years, Cavan went back to his alma mater and served as an instructor in the Trial Techniques Program.
While in law school, Cavan worked part time for two years as an orderly at Emory University Hospital. The summer before his third year, he got a taste of real-life law practice, working part-time at...