As a young child growing up in the Barren Run section of LaRue County, Kyle Williamson wasn’t really hard-headed or stubborn; he just liked to ask questions, to find out why, to just about any subject that came up.
“I think, at times, my questioning probably caused big problems for Mom and Dad (Mike and Kathy Williamson),” the 25-year-old man, who recently opened a law office in Hodgenville, said.
Those early attempts at cross-examination sowed the seed that developed into a desire to become a lawyer, resulting in his earning a Juris Doctor degree in May 2009.
“My dad always told me that if I learned to work with my mind, I wouldn’t have to work with my back,” Williamson said.
Working at construction and on farms while he was in college drove home that maxim’s truth.
“He also told me it was best to work for myself, and that’s one of the reasons I decided to return here,” he added.
While a student at LaRue County High School, he didn’t belong to the speech or debate club (“I guess because I didn’t make that connection between debate and law then.”), but during his sophomore and junior years, he became involved in real litigation as part of Teen Court.
”This was a real court in which juveniles charged with misdemeanors could opt to appear before a judge in a regular court or in a court of their peers, students from several area schools such as LaRue County, Elizabethtown High School, and Central Hardin,” Williamson said.
About 15 students from the different schools sat on the Teen Court. The volunteers had attended training sessions from lawyers and judges.
“The lawyers advised us on strategies to play up during court,” said Williamson. “For one case, I did the cross examination. That really made up my mind for me as to what I wanted to do in life.”
Upon high school graduation in 2002, he entered the University of Kentucky where he majored in political science. He attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights where he gained more courtroom experience and his law degree.
There, his teacher, David Singleton, a Harvard educated attorney, influenced Williamson.
“He said that, in thinking of the facts to a case, put them together just like the lines of a story so that people can follow them easier and relate to what you say,” Williamson said.
His instructor also chose Williamson, with seven others, to represent federal prisoners in court. As a legal intern in Ohio where the case took place, the group of second and third year students filed documents and made arguments in court.
“It’s great to talk about cases while you’re in a classroom, but it’s a much different story to be in a real situation,” he said.
As a member of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Williamson was assigned a prisoner’s rights case involving an inmate who sought damages after being almost beaten to death while in prison by members of the Aryan Brotherhood.
“They thought he was a snitch,” Williamson said. “He requested protective custody, but wasn’t granted it, and they smashed his skull in with horseshoes and a free weight.”
The fact that the case still is in litigation exemplifies another facet Williamson said a lawyer must realize – patience.
“With hearings and appeals, it can take quite some time,” he said.
It can also take quite a while to pass the bar exam. Statistics (Adaptibar.com) show that in the past seven years, only 74 percent of those taking the assessment for the first time score passing grades. Williamson, however, succeeded on his initial attempt on the grueling test.
“It’s two full days,” he said. “The first day calls for writing six essays in the morning and another six in the afternoon with a three-hour time limit in each session.”
The second day includes another six hours of answering 200 multiple-choice questions.
“With four choices, the first two usually can be eliminated quickly, but the other two both seem acceptable, and that’s what makes it so difficult and time consuming,” he said.
After waiting two and one-half months for the results, what he calls, “The greatest day of my life,” occurred on Oct. 23, 2009.
“I would go online where they posted results with the numbers, not names, of the persons taking the exam,” he said. “On that day, there was Number 22, I’ll never forget my number, and I had passed!”
Setting up office at 113 Lincoln Drive, next door to Hodgenville attorney Carl Howell’s practice, Williamson praised the veteran lawyer.
“Carl has been like my mentor,” said Williamson. “He has introduced me to so many people – at Rotary, to other lawyers and judges, and has been a wealth of knowledge and experience.”
Though a practicing attorney now specializing in criminal defense, divorce, personal injury, wills, estate and bankruptcy, the accomplished guitarist still finds time to join Kyle King, drummer, and Jason Jones, bass, in their band, Hooker.
“I’ve played with the band for seven years, and it’s helped put me through law school,” he said. “Of course, my mom and dad have also been super supportive.”