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A. Scott Bolden

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Position: Managing partner for the D.C. office of Reed Smith, an international law firm with more than 1,600 lawyers in 24 cities.

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Career Highlights: Partner, Reed Smith; associate, litigation, Reed Smith; counsel, Committee on the Judiciary of the D.C. Council; and assistant district attorney, New York County. Bolden also held several board positions, including president and chair, D.C. Chamber of Commerce; chair, D.C. Democratic State Committee; chair, Recreation Wish List Committee; member, D.C. Bar Board of Governors; and member, Sequoia National Bank. He also unsuccessfully ran for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.

Age: 45

Education: BA, political science, Morehouse College; JD, Howard University.

Personal: Lives in the District. Bolden has three daughters, Shayla, 23; twins McKenzie and McKay, 13; and granddaughter, Ashanti, 5.

How did you get to where you are?

I always wanted to be a lawyer. I grew up in Joliet, Ill., watching my father try criminal and civil rights cases, and being enamored of courtrooms, his excellent oratorical skills and his presence before judges and juries. After graduating from Morehouse College, I headed to Washington, planning to either work on the Hill or attend law school at Howard University. The job did not work out, but law school did. It prepared me for the best job an aspiring trial attorney can have -- as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, where I handled hundreds of misdemeanors and felonies, honing my skills as a litigator.

I returned to D.C. to become a federal prosecutor. Instead, I joined the Committee on the Judiciary of the D.C. Council, serving as counsel to its chair, Wilhelmina Rolark of Ward 8. She and her husband, Calvin, supported me and provided an unmatched education in real-world politics and business.

In June 1991, I interviewed with Reed Smith for a litigation associate position. I felt completely unprepared, even intimidated, because I'd never thought about joining a large practice. At the time, the track record for lawyers of color in larger corporate law firms was not stellar. Nevertheless, I was offered and I accepted the position.

I worked extremely hard to excel in writing and research, as well as in developing a client base. I realized that one effective route to success was political fundraising. Over the years, I have hosted events and been on many committees that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates at the local, regional and national level. With Reed Smith's support, I soon became quite involved, working with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce as general counsel and later, as president and chairman of the board, as well as serving as chair of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. I succeeded in developing business and became a partner in 1995.

I am a lawyer who enjoys most aspects of lawyering, and I've learned many lessons, including that it can take years to gain a client but seconds to lose one; when balancing family and work, family must carry more weight; being a gentleman doesn't cost, it pays; humility goes a long way; and lastly, clients want a value differential in their legal relationships and increasingly look for that in the lawyers and firms they hire.

-- Judith Mbuya


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