Jim Grace: Bound for Afghanistan

HOUSTON, August 16, 2011 -- For Jim Grace, traveling to Afghanistan later this month will be more than a fact-finding mission in his role as chair of the Firm’s Texas government relations section. It will be a nine-month tour of duty as a Navy intelligence officer at a military base in a country that is still a focal point of the nation’s war on terrorism.

Jim joined the Navy Reserves in 2007, one day before he turned 40 years old. At the time, Iraq was still the military and political hot spot years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He knew he could be called up for service in the region after he was commissioned, but very few intelligence officers were being involuntarily deployed at the time.

After he signed up, however, “the Navy decided it needed to increase its intel capabilities, and suddenly it became clear that everybody was going to be deployed eventually,” Jim said.

Joining the Navy Reserves four years ago fulfilled a desire to serve his country through the military that Jim had postponed after graduating from the University of Houston Law Center.

“I had investigated joining the JAG (the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps), but it was 1992 and the military was downsizing after the Cold War,” Jim said. “I convinced myself that it was going to be too hard to fit it into my career path and abandoned the effort. As I got older it became clear that I was simply in too big of a hurry to get on with the remainder of my life, and I should have made the extra effort to serve at that time.”

Managing Partner Walt Smith said, “Jim’s courageous choice to serve his country in this manner inspires us and makes us proud to call him our friend and colleague. All of us at Baker Botts wish Jim well and look forward to his return to the Firm once his tour of duty ends.”

Jim said his wife Michelle was not surprised by the decision to join the reserves nor the call-up to serve a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

“We had often discussed how I regretted not serving,” Jim said. “But my parents, brother and sisters were plenty surprised.”

Jim has informed his clients of his impending Afghanistan tour of duty. Although they understand and support his commitment to serving his country, they have made it clear they expect to get a call as soon as he returns to the Firm next summer.




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