Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall drew on his decades of challenging experiences in criminal justice to encourage Troy University students to pursue their passions with dedication, integrity and commitment.
Speaking during the 2019 Gibson Vance Distinguished Lecturer Series on Thursday afternoon, Marshall described the practice of law as his passion in life, but showed examples of numerous obstacles he’s faced in pursuit of that passion.
“Whatever the profession you choose — whether you choose to be doctors, accountants, professors, lawyers or something else — it can be difficult,” Marshall told a packed audience. “It can be hard, and there are going to be obstacles that you find along the way, many of which are beyond your control. Every profession presents its own areas of difficulty — how can you overcome those to become the professional you need to be?”
He said he defines success not by enduring failures but maintaining one’s enthusiasm for work.
Marshall said it’s important that people find their passion.
“Passion is not the rah-rah in the stands (at a game), it’s something internal,” he said.
He added that when he needs to remember his passion, he thinks back to Uriel Hernandez, a baby who was killed by his parents in 2009.
Marshall prosecuted both parents, and he still remembers crying due to the circumstances.
“When I think back to difficult moments, I think back to Uriel because of the privilege I had to seek justice for him, to tell his story, to be his voice and to make sure whoever harmed him would never harm anyone else again,” said Marshall, who served as Marshall County District Attorney at the time of that case.
He told the audience that they must set the standard for excellence in their careers, attacking each day with commitment.
“We’ve got to be more than dedicated,” he said. “We’ve got to be fully committed to the mission of the profession we choose.”
Marshall said each individual has the opportunity to create change in others.
“You have the ability to become the catalyst for change in others,” he said. “There are men and women who have changed lives simply because of their efforts, professionals who have cared enough to find the virtue in changing others’ lives for the better. Are you willing to go that extra mile for people who may see you as their last hope?”
While Marshall spoke from personal experience, he said everyone, regardless of profession, should understand the importance of what they’re doing.
“Whatever your profession, embrace the idea that it comes with a legacy,” he said. “You’re going to have an opportunity to create a legacy behind you. It will come from those people who have embraced you and believed in you. It will also come from those in your life that you have touched in some way who will make sure your legacy lives.”
Endowed thanks to a donation from TROY Board of Trustees member Gibson Vance, the Gibson Vance Distinguished Lecturer Series gives students interested in a career in law a chance to hear from the field’s most influential figures.