Tommy Preston, Jr. is a South Carolina Sustaining Life Fellow and Vice President of Ethics at The Boeing Company, where he leads a team of global professionals focused on articulating, amplifying and embedding the company’s values across the enterprise. Preston is an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA) where he served as national chair of the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division, representing more than 200,000 young and early career lawyers from across the United States.
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
I am tremendously honored to be a Fellow. I remember first being introduced to the Fellows as a law student and seeing the esteemed legal professionals in the group. I knew then that I hoped to join the ranks at some point in my legal career. The ABF serves a critical role in our profession and society generally. The work this organization does on a daily basis is impacting lives. As a Fellow, I get to be a small part of this important work.
Where were you born and raised?
I like to say I was accidentally born in Pittsburgh, PA but spent all of my childhood in Clemson, SC. My mom was pregnant with me and visiting her ailing father. I was born during that visit but eventually came home to South Carolina, a place that helped shape me into the person I am today.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
I decided to become a lawyer for the reason most of us do; to make a difference. I was introduced to Mock Trial in high school and immediately fell in love with the profession. During that experience, I was struck by the fact that there weren’t many lawyers who looked like me. In fact, there was an African American female prosecutor in South Carolina who ran my region’s Mock Trial program. She was the first lawyer of color I ever met and was a great inspiration to me. While I didn’t know her personally at the time, I could tell how passionate she was about serving a cause greater than herself and it left a lasting impression on me.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in law, what would you have done?
I’ve actually thought about that question a lot over the years. I probably would have been a teacher. I can’t think of many other professions that profoundly impact the lives of others in the way educators do. Even as a lawyer, I have remained committed to advancing education, particularly for our underserved populations. Additionally, I am a big advocate of teachers, their contributions to society, and deeply respect the personal and professional sacrifices they make to grow the future.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to be with my family. I am blessed to have an amazing wife and three children ages 6, 4, and 2. Based on her daily behavior, I already expect that our 6- year-old daughter will join the profession someday. Every day is a circus with them but a lot of fun.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I encourage legal professionals to continue to support the work of the ABF and dedicate time to learning more about the incredible research being conducted by a group of incredible and talented professionals who are leaving their mark on our society.