The Last Word: J. Goodwin Bland '87

J. Goodwin Bland '87

Partner, Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Describe your job and what you like about it.

As a real estate partner, I help clients with their purchase, sale, financing and leasing transactions in New York City and on a national level. Although I have essentially been at the same firm for 26 years, it has grown from 50 to 2,000 attorneys through various combinations and mergers. In November 2014, I joined Morgan Lewis through a combination, and I especially like the firm’s entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit. UVA Law is the second-most-represented law school at the firm, so I am in good company—and on the hiring committee! 

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My personal trainer. And I like my job.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in your professional life?

Always give back to your community. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it can also lead to meeting great clients. After moving to New York City, I volunteered a lot with LGBT not-for-profits and met many folks who either became clients or introduced me to clients. And now many of my clients are large not-for-profits.

Who is your legal hero and why?

While I don’t have one legal hero, I have many legal heroines. My mother always encouraged me to be a lawyer. At UVA, several of my female classmates were instrumental in helping me land my job in New York. Once I started in private practice, many women mentored me along the way.

What makes a good lawyer?

A good lawyer actively listens, responds promptly, produces the best possible work product and re­spects his colleagues, opposing counsel and clients.

If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would be…

An architectural historian. At UVA undergrad, I wrote two theses on Georgian and Greek Revival architecture. My law school classmates, partner and I often visit historic homes, and I enjoy quizzing them about architectural history — they are all experts now.

What’s your favorite memory from law school?

Spending time with my classmates — lunch at Martha’s, drinks at Eastern Standard, dinner parties, dancing at Brown’s Moun­tain, Libel Show, spring break in Jamaica, and co-hosting and co-founding the very first “Feb Club Eve” — a mock New Year’s Eve black tie party on Jan. 31. I still see my law school class­mates all the time—the best friends I have ever had.

You have the last word. What do you want to say?

Thanks to UVA. Without the opportunities created by the Law School, this farm boy from Gloucester, Virginia, would never have found his way to New York City and Morgan Lewis.