Dallas LGBT Bar Association interview with member John McCall, Jr.:
What type(s) of law do you practice now and why do you like it?
My practice has refined to three primary disciplines, FAMILY, PROBATE, and REAL PROPERTY. Early on in my legal career, I knew I wanted to focus on the GLBT community. I was one of the first to aggressively market to that community and as a Result, was quoted in 2008 in the Wall Street Journal for my work with same sex couples and their issues which usually mirror one of the three above. Naturally when children are around, we go to Family Court like heterosexual couples, but when no children and couples want to split up assets and debts, they are forced to go to District Court, unlike heterosexual couples. Fortunately, Dallas County has some very forward thinking Civil Judges and most couples receive fair representation.
What I like about practicing is that rush that comes from receiving a favorable ruling after months of litigation and the transformation with your clients from customer to friend.
What do you like most about being a lawyer/your job? It could be what you find most rewarding, what day-to-day things you like best, a favorite story about a client or someone you helped with your legal skills, or a relationship that you have forged since you’ve been a lawyer or in your job.
Without a doubt the greatest victories for me come from either reconnecting or representing a parent who has a child or children and feels their relationship will be discontinued or frowned upon by the courts because of their new lifestyle change to no longer sleep with or cohabitate with the opposite sex. The joy that comes from that parent when they know that your sexual identity will not affect that parent/child relationship is what keeps me driven.
I have had several of my cases documented by the Dallas Voice and there are two success stories that stand out and are worth mentioning. One was a custody battle for a Gay divorced father of two in Tyler, Texas. His ex-wife was very religious and determined to terminate the custody of my client from his boys. She even brought church members to the courthouse to pray and influence the Judge how they thought it was not in the boys’ best interest to have any contact with their homosexual father. My client now has all the rights and privileges the family code allows thanks to my representation.
The second case, that was an unexpected victory by most, was a custody battle in Collin County with a male to female transgender who had fathered three boys. Once again the mother wanted to terminate my client from the son and figured that in Republican Collin County a transgender father would not even have a chance. Under my watch, the Judge granted access to the boy and treated my client with the same respect as any other parent in that courthouse.
As the son of a County Judge I have been groomed to follow in his footsteps. I have always anticipated sitting on a bench and now my time has come. An open seat has given me the opportunity to run for an elected Judicial Position for the Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1. While I would not be the first openly gay elected Judge, I would be the first openly gay Justice of the Peace which is another accolade our genre should have bragging rights for as well. While my sexuality has no bearing on the position itself, it does have tremendous impact on future positions for openly gay candidates. Every time a gay official is elected, it greases the skids for future elections to ultimately have a gay state and eventually federal representatives in the House and Senate. www.mccalljr4jp.com
What do you do in you free time? What sort of hobbies, community service, etc. do you enjoy?
When it comes to community service, I have several that I been involved with for many years. For the last 25 years I have been an active and involved member/officer/director of the Oak Cliff Lions Club. I am one of a handful two family members. My father is also active in my chapter and we meet every week for lunch and participate in at least one monthly activity outside the weekly meetings.
For the last nine years, I have been active with Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program (DVAP) as well as Dallas Legal Hospice. I received the outstanding volunteer sole practitioner in 2007. If you have never attended a Pro Bono legal clinic, you have never seen the appreciation that comes from clients/plaintiffs/victims that are so grateful to know that there is a legal remedy for their problem and you can give them comfort in knowing that I will be their first of many legal advocates for their cause. I am usually the volunteer attorney at Dallas Legal Hospice to handle the Expunctions and Nondisclosures for their client base.
For nine months, I was appointed to serve on the City of Dallas Task Force for Oil and Gas Drilling. I was one of the 9 volunteer attorneys who meet weekly to review and rewrite the City Code/ordinance for this volatile issue. I learned a great deal about handling the public, working with the City, State, and Federal bureaus on this topic. I learned that the public can be very vocal and hostile and the importance of remaining professional and objective when the audience is not!
If you could travel to any place on earth where would it be and why would you want to go there?
I am fortunate enough to have traveled to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. All of which I would happily return to at the drop of a hat. But there are places I have not been to and have on list for fantasy trips. Probably the main location would be Alaska, sine that seems to be one of the few places left on the planet where man has not commercialized or developed and it is still possible to see nature in its most undisturbed environment.
What is your favorite thing to do when you have time to relax?
Oddly enough, I find relaxation in exercise. Time never allows, so I must make time and either go to the gym and lift weights, or get on my bicycle and ride a minimum of 5 miles to feel completely relaxed. I attempt to keep a schedule of a minimum of three times a week for this and with work and a campaign, I am glad I belong to a 24 hr fitness which allows for nonconventional hours- (McCall laughs).
Where did you go on your last vacation and what did you do?
My last vacation was July 2013 and I went for a week to Israel with my partner. While most people travel there for religious reasons, my partner’s employer is based there and he travels there repeatedly. I was lucky enough to have him as my tour guide and he took me to many of the “must see” locations. Those include the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Beaches of Tel Aviv, and Haifa. I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit and now have a new appreciation of the unpleasant aspects of traveling for 24 hrs without a shower or bed.
What is your favorite wine? Favorite beer? Favorite mixed drink?
Shouldn’t this question be combined with the time to relax? LOL. It is only fitting that we ask attorneys about wine, beer, and adult beverages. Wine- Shiraz; Beer- Hard Cider; Drink- Frozen Margarita- WITH SALT!
What was one of the things you have done in your life that was a big rush? Like white water rafting, jumping out of an airplane, singing on stage, acting in a play, driving a race car, piloting a plane, etc.? Why did you or did you now like it?
I have done this multiple times and there no greater rush- Demolition Derby. That is correct; I have been behind the while of a full size vehicle with NO modifications and aggressively driven into other vehicles in the same competition. Naturally you want to preserve the motor for as long as possible, so the goal is to side swipe, or rear end the other car so that you can continue on this quest to be the last vehicle running. It probably sounds dangerous, but you will never find me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane either!
What is your secret passion/secret wish?
My passion/goal is to be elected to the bench and make my court the most user friendly in the system. I want to always have an open door policy and look forward to hosting/lecturing/participating in future GLBT events from the bench. But since this question leads to a fantasy, I will admit my secret passion would be to sing. . .
Where did you go undergrad and law school?
My BBA is from University of Texas in Austin. My MBA is from East Texas State University. My JD is from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law.
How long have you been a member of DGLBA? What is it that you like the most about being a member of DGLBA?
I have been a member for almost ten years. I enjoy not only the networking, but the fellowship as well. It is a great venue to see colleagues that you do not run across in the courthouse but have similar fact patterns and provide a different insight to a common legal issue.