September 14, 2020 at 8:20 am

Alumni News | Bryant Uses Law Degree For Service, Community Change

Fred Bryant, portrait

Fred Bryant

Growing up in in Louisville, Ky., Ohio University alumnus Ret. Col. Fred Bryant, Esq. didn’t have Ohio University on his radar until a friend came back from her first semester of undergraduate school and told him he should “check it out.”

Then, on a road trip to West Virginia, he stopped to see the campus and instantly fell in love. It was the only university he ended up applying to, and he went on to major in English Literature, graduating from Ohio University in 1969.

During his time at OHIO, Bryant ran cross-country and was very involved in ROTC as well as a military fraternity on campus.

“I gained a lot of organizational, leadership and management skills through these organizations,” he said.

Next to meeting his wife, Carol, one of his favorite memories of his time at OHIO was when there were major floods in Nelsonville, and the university dismissed classes for the day to allow students to join the National Guard in sandbagging and repairing the area. “It was such a formative experience, because it was students, and the military all coming together to come help their town.” Hundreds of students ended up showing up that day.

After graduating, Bryant never planned on going to law school. He planned on serving in the Army, and he joined shortly after graduating. It wasn’t until he was serving as an infantry officer six years later that his adviser encouraged him to look into law. Eventually, after being stationed Washington, Bryant decided to attend the University of Puget Sound’s law school in Tacoma, now Seattle University School of Law.

His law degree would go on to take him many different places. Not only did he spend 30 years in the Army as a 2nd commissioned lieutenant, Bryant substitute taught at the Fayette County schools, worked for the Government Military Affairs Committee as a Deputy and Legal Advisor, then spent 12 years directing the redevelopment of former Army Base Gillem in the Atlanta area.  Finally, he volunteered 16 years of pro-bono work with a truancy intervention project in Atlanta to find better ways of reaching young people when they are truant, to make sure their truancy doesn’t turn into delinquency, and adult criminality.

“I personally represented about 120-130 kids during my time with the truancy project,” Bryant said.

“I love seeing how you can impact the community around you, for instance, during the Fort Gillem project the redevelopment helped create a lot of jobs and opportunities for the people in that area.” He is thankful for the ways in which his time at OHIO helped prepare him throughout his career. “I was able to really hone my writing skills, and learning to read and analyze pieces to take a stance in an argument all translates well into being a lawyer.”

Since Bryant’s time at OHIO, the Center for Law, Justice and Culture now offers the Summer Law & Trial Institute to impart these same critical skills to current students. The program inspired Bryant and his wife, Carol, AB ’70, to make a generous gift this year in support of the institute. They also made a gift to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship.

“I would like to congratulate OHIO on the Center for Law, Justice and Culture and Summer Law & Trial Institute,” said Bryant, who noted that he was elated to hear that the students were able to learn more about law and get involved with it early in their academic careers.

In 2018, Bryant participated in the CLJC’s Pre-Law Day program, where he shared his experiences in the legal profession with students interested in attending law school.  He is excited to continue to engage with OHIO students in the future through Pre-Law Day and any other ways that he can.

For the students interested in law, Bryant had a few pieces of advice: “Be realistic. If your goal is to go to law school, pick one that is going to suit your needs personally and professionally. Look for a law school that will prepare you to be successful on the bar. Also, think about where you want to practice. Law school is not ridiculously hard like people make it out to be, it’s just a matter of applying yourself like you do in undergrad and making it a priority in your life. You don’t have to decide what you want to do in law school, but take the opportunity to try things you’re interested in.”

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