Wednesday, 15 August 2018 16:57

Shawn Cole, Attorney, Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole, and Black

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RRJ:  Growing up in the small town of Hoke’s Bluff, Alabama, what qualities did you gain from your community that led you to be a Christ follower?


Shawn:  My grandparents, specifically my Baptist-preacher grandfather, my youth choir director, and a friend’s mom, influenced me by being loving, genuine Christian examples. They saw a kid who wasn’t perfect, but that knew what perfection in Christ was and they just fed into that. Being in a small town, with people who had good values instilled in them early in life, made loving Jesus much easier than today’s kids have it with so many electronic distractions. We were outside – a lot – soaking in all God had to offer us in nature. It was a simpler time with good, solid, mostly like-minded people.  It was also a community that allowed other parents to hold us accountable when we messed up. Loving Jesus was the norm, not the exception. Also, my parents’ generosity and loving spirits cannot be undervalued in who I am in Christ today.




RRJ:  What would you say your primary spiritual gift is and what opportunities have you been given to use that gift?


Shawn:  That’s tough. I think the Lord blesses us all with spiritual gifts, but I do not really like to talk about myself. However, I can say I love people. I genuinely believe that every person has value and worth and I enjoy being loving and welcoming to others. Therefore, my primary gift is probably hospitality – not like entertaining, but more as in drawing people into relationship and making them know they matter, that they are loved and that they have true value. It is just something I try to use as often as I can whether at the grocery store, pumping gas, or serving others. I just want to make it a way of life. I am sure I mess up often, but I try.


RRJ:  Shawn, you are actively involved in many programs in Montgomery’s inner city.  What have you learned from this involvement?


Shawn:  I have learned what a loving, warm community we have here in Montgomery. I have learned that no matter how much someone lacks, they still have much to offer. I have learned that there are many, many barriers to bringing people out of poverty other than just giving them a clean place to live, a new suit of clothes, and a GED. There are some issues that are generations deep that we have to help people overcome – simple things like soft job skills an educated person may take for granted – that we have to understand are not second nature to everyone. It is not “us and them.” We are all in this together and when we can love on our neighbors in need, we are the ones that reap far more than those we are trying to serve. People just want to know that they matter to someone. We all share that basic human need.


RRJ:  You mentioned that your workplace is “like family”.  How are you able to shine for Christ in that environment?


Shawn:  I do not know that I shine any more brightly than anyone else here. Our people just love deeply. We love our community. We recognize that to whom much is given much is expected. The Hill family that started our firm set the tone many years before I was born and their family members still at the firm (and the non-lawyers in their family) hold to the same values. 


Our ethical standards are critical to identifying who we are, and for me, that is purely a result of my wanting to be an obedient Christ-follower. I want to be fiscally responsible and always do the right thing for my clients and I think we all share this same set of values at our firm. I can be a zealous advocate for my clients but can be fair, rational, and kind to other lawyers I have cases against.


It is a blessing to work with others who take that position in their work and personal lives. It is also a blessing to see my co-workers live life in a way that is intentionally beneficial to others. We have our own personal involvement with various churches or organizations, but we also work together to identify community needs and try to make this world a little better place than how we found it. Whether it is through working with a legal organization to help disadvantaged people, raising funds and collecting food for the food bank, collecting books for various organizations, sending children to AWF camps, or any number of other things, we just want to make a difference. 



RRJ:  Your involvement in the Kiwanis Club has led you to being president of the Alabama National Fair.  Any exciting news on that front?


Shawn:  We are thrilled to be bringing some new ideas to the Fair this year. The ANF is the only fundraiser for Kiwanis Club of Montgomery.  The proceeds are granted to non-profits in the River Region, so spending money at the fair benefits the community!


This year we are having an awesome Christian band, Rush of Fools, sponsored by Huntingdon College and an anonymous donor made it possible for an inner-city ministry, Flatline Movement, to be a sponsor as well. We have exhibits from Alabama Department of Archives & History, the Rosa Parks Museum, and Freedom Riders Museum. Along with rides and other outdoor exhibits, we are excited to bring these new ideas to showcase some of the amazing things Montgomery has to offer – from top-notch Christian entertainment to educational opportunities from an historical and civil rights perspective.  Great things are happening in Montgomery and I am incredibly proud to be a part of Kiwanis and the ANF, which has given more than $7 million dollars to benefit this and the surrounding communities.



RRJ:  You’ve been active in getting your children involved in benevolent projects.  Have you seen a change in your kids since helping in those efforts?


Shawn:  I have seen that my children shine more brightly when they are engaged in serving others. It becomes second nature to consider others when we work alongside them, doing for others.  More than just serving, we are also building meaningful relationships. You can write a check only or you can get your hands into the work being done. When you and your family come alongside those you are helping, and you build true relationships with them, this is when service has lasting impact – on you, on those you are serving, and in the community. It is all about cultivating a servant’s heart – reminding our children to love humanity by letting them see us love humanity. Whether in a soup kitchen, making blessing bags, or baking cookies for first responders who put their lives on the is our family’s philosophy that we all, regardless of our resources, need to be doing something for someone else. 



RRJ:  Because you have experience in helping downtown, what would you suggest to our readers who want to get involved with helping in our community but are not sure where to start?


Shawn:  Hands on River Region can match you with a ministry that fits your comfort level – and you may also want to make Blessing Bags for people in need! Get gallon size zip lock bags, put in a bottled water, pop-top canned meat, crackers, something sweet, wet wipes, a spoon, canned fruit or apple sauce, a pair of socks, some Band aids, and note with a Bible verse. Add information about Mercy House and the 211 help line so recipients will know where to get food, a place to shower, or other resources. We have SO much fun making these – and make a few extra for our police officers so they can give them out. They love that!



RRJ:  In your opinion, what’s the most important part of sharing your faith?


Shawn:  Just live for Him out loud every day. Love your neighbors. Love strangers. Embrace the concept of “the preciousness of others” – that God made us all in His image, with as much love and tenderness for one as for the other. We all matter and we all are worthy of His love. So whoever you see in whatever set of circumstances, know we all are valued equally by the Father, and love them accordingly.



Shawn Cole is attorney and shareholder with Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole, & Black. She has been married to husband Les for 20 years and they have two children, Jackson (17) and Mary Elizabeth (11). They are also active and founding members at ChristChurch in Montgomery.



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