In Memoriam: Remembering Judge Willie Lovett Jr. Through His Words

STATEMENT FROM FULTON COUNTY JUVENILE COURT CHIEF PRESIDING JUDGE BRADLEY J. BOYD “On behalf of Fulton County Juvenile Court, it is with great sadness that I must announce that Judge Willie J. Lovett, Jr. passed away this morning, January 30, 2017. Judge Lovett was a colleague and friend to a great many of us in the Fulton County community, and I speak for all judges and court staff when I say that he will be sorely missed. The innumerable large and small ways he improved the lives of youth will never be forgotten. Indeed, they will echo across generations as the children he helped will grow and to become happy and healthy adults able to give their own children love and support. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this solemn time. Information regarding arrangements will be shared once they are made available. Thank you.”

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Leader Chat: Judge Willie Lovett Jr.

By Katrice L. Mines

Judge Willie J. Lovett Jr. began serving as a Juvenile Court judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in Fulton County in 2013 — presiding over all juvenile matters originating in Fulton County and providing leadership to the Juvenile Court as it prepares to implement Georgia’s new Juvenile Code. It was like destiny calling.

Judge Lovett began working with juveniles while in the Office of the Fulton County Attorney as the Fulton Juvenile Court was his client and he served as lead counsel in the class action lawsuit styled Kenny A. v. Perdue (the Kenny A. case). As the result of a settlement and consent decree entered in the lawsuit, Fulton County created an independent Office of the Child Attorney, which also became his client. In 2009, Judge Lovett left the Office of the County Attorney to work as the director of the Office of the Child Attorney. There, he discovered a passion for child welfare work, and was inspired to set a goal for the Office of the Child Attorney “to be the best client-directed child representation organization in the nation.”

Concern for juveniles has led the Harvard Law School alumnus to intertwine his efforts on their behalf including work as an adjunct professor of law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where he teaches juvenile law, as well as Georgia practice and procedure and local government law. In 2012, Lovett became certified by the American Bar Association and the National Association of Counsel for Children as a Child Welfare Law Specialist. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Georgia Association of Counsel for Children, the National Bar Association and is a Past-President of the Gate City Bar Association. As well, he is an advisory board member of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University.

Because a once-over of his career proves that he is a leader of leaders, we thought it only fitting that he give us a peek into the mindset of a man who understands that leaders build the ones who follow.

What are the primary characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?

Character: Strength of character in order to be confident in yourself, confident in your strategies, and strong enough to accept dissent and criticism from your colleagues.

Vision: The ability to embrace, communicate and rally your colleagues around a clear vision.

Humility: The willingness to work with your colleagues at all levels of the organization including the entry levels.

Discernment: Knowing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses well enough to evaluate opportunities honestly, reject those that cannot be achieved with your current team and embracing those opportunities that the organization can achieve.

Why a career in law for you?

I have always been a “results” person, and a career in law provided an opportunity for my job to match my personality. Working to get to the best result always has been challenging, but rewarding work. Understanding how to utilize the law to get to the best result, whether as an attorney or a judge, makes this career option ideal.

If you could give your 25-year-old self a bit of advice, what would you say?

I would advise my 25-year-old self to focus more on the impact your work is making; focus less on the personalities of your co-workers and supervisors.

Can you offer a bit of insight to someone looking to become a better leader?

As a social science major, I recommend reading as much literature as your tolerance allows on the phenomenon of groupthink. A leader should be able to challenge group dynamics, examine alternative strategies and facilitate resolutions based on evidence and experience.

What is your favorite quote?

“Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great.”  – Mark Twain

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