The value of values
Jim Garland, ’53, attributes 60-year legal career to his Catholic education
February 5, 2018
James Garland, ’53, is living proof of the value of a Jesuit education.
Born in Baltimore during the height of the Great Depression, Garland grew up in Federal Hill before the neighborhood became a haven for trendy young families. Back then, it was home to a lot of families like the Garlands: working-class parents with a grade-school education raising children whose only hope for further education was through academic or athletic scholarships.
Always one for hard work, Garland defied the odds. He received a full scholarship to what is now called Loyola Blakefield preparatory school in Baltimore.
After a football scholarship to Georgetown University fell through, he set his sights closer to home and applied to Loyola. He was awarded a full scholarship as an emolument of receiving the Loyola Medal at his high school graduation from Loyola Blakefield; he also received a second full scholarship by winning a competitive academic scholarship exam.
“So the choice [to attend] was easy,” says Garland, who majored in history and political science at Loyola.
A different path
After he received his diploma, Garland continued his Catholic education at Villanova Law School, where he was a member of the school’s very first graduating class in 1956.
He will be the first to tell you law was a path he hadn’t quite expected for himself.
“Graduation held few economic prospects at that time, and jobs were scarce for students of history and political science,” he explains.
“The usual path was to be drafted into the U.S. Army and do a two- or three-year hitch with veteran’s benefits after discharge. But I was fortunate to have been awarded a full scholarship to law school, and that set me on a career path that I hadn’t envisioned.”
Garland, who is now 86 years old with three children and seven grandchildren, found his calling as an attorney. He has been practicing law for more than 60 years—and shows no sign of slowing down.
Garland currently serves as deputy general counsel at Miles & Stockbridge, a leading law firm in the mid-Atlantic area where he has been for almost 25 years, concentrating on telecommunications, general business litigation, and labor and employment. He has also been a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers—which recognizes the best of the courtroom bar—since 1981.
Garland previously worked at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes for 37 years, including a three-year sabbatical as a Maryland assistant attorney general where he took on the savings and loan crisis of the early 1960s.
Colleagues say Garland is a skilled trial lawyer who is always happy to help colleagues practice their arguments. Throughout his career, he has also become known as fierce advocate for ethics and equality, including creating family-friendly work environments for new mothers.
His work has not gone unnoticed. In May, Garland was honored by the Maryland State Bar Association as its Senior Lawyer of the Year. When asked how he feels about receiving the prestigious honor, the ever-humble Garland simply says, “Surprised. Very surprised.”
Learning to lead
Garland has served as a role model for his peers for many decades.
As a student at Loyola, he was class president for his first three years and then student body president for his senior year. He was also a four-year member of the wrestling team and active in several other academic clubs. He enjoyed putting on dramatic presentations at Loyola Night, the college’s annual variety show, as well as traveling the United Nations headquarters as part of the International Relations Club’s Mock U.N. team.
His fondest memories, though, are of the relationships he made with professors such as Dr. Harry Kirwin, Dr. Walsh, Father Skip Scanlon, Father Vince Beatty, and Dr. Vincent Colimore.
Garland credits his education—and the scholarships he was afforded—for his career success, which is why he believes in being an engaged and generous alumnus.
“The Jesuit values I was privileged to absorb have been the foundation of my life and career since high school,” he says. “I’m quite proud to be an eight-year Jesuit product and hope I live up to those values.”
In fact, Garland was recognized this fall for his service to the Catholic Church and for his alumni involvement in Catholic institutions when he received the “Man for All Seasons” award from the St. Thomas More Society of Maryland.
The way he sees it, he’s always had an an obligation to give back. “I owe my career to my schools,” he says. “I believe that Christianity and especially Catholic Christianity is the salvation of this world, and the Church needs our participation and help.”