People#039;s Lawyer#039; throws hat in ring

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 24, 2002

Julian McPhillips, a Montgomery attorney, has announced he will be seeking election in the race for U.S. Senate representing Alabama on the Democratic ticket.

He will challenge the incumbent, Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Born and raised in Alabama, McPhillips, the 55-year-old son of the late Rev. Julian McPhillips Sr., learned at an early age the values of working for the good of people everywhere.

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McPhillips spoke in his biography, entitled "The People's Lawyer," of fond memories gained while riding with his father in an old pickup truck down dusty dirt roads, visiting with the farmers his father contracted with for his vegetable company.

Just as his father felt a calling to the ministry, so has the younger McPhillips felt a beckoning call to service.

"I feel a strong calling to serve my state and my country," McPhillips said. "I will provide strong, progressive leadership while maintaining a focus on faith and family issues."

McPhillips attended Princeton University, where he became an All-American wrestler, winning the Ivy League Championship.

He began his legal career as an assistant attorney general for the State of Alabama, and has since been tabbed the "People's Lawyer," handling high-profile cases against powerful adversaries, such as large corporations and top governmental officials.

The nickname "People's Lawyer" stems from his willingness to represent those people whose civil rights have been violated, even when the cases were pitted against powerful municipalities, like the City of Montgomery.

McPhillips also has gained recognition for his devotion to historical preservation. He and his wife Leslie are founders of the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery.

Countless people interviewed for McPhillips' biography were quoted as saying that even as a child, Julian was known for his helping qualities, always doing things for the other children.

"I believe that Alabama is ready for a progressive senator who can move the state and country forward into the twenty-first century without sacrificing traditional family values," he said. "I believe this is a great state with great people who are ready to see Alabama realize its full potential n at the same time, there is no need to sacrifice our longstanding commitment to family values and traditions."

McPhillips believes that economic development and education go hand in hand, And with that in mind, he said one of his top priorities would be to improve public education.

"In order to attract good paying jobs to the state, we must have a ready, well-educated work force," he said. "I will work to make sure that Alabama schools are as good or better than any schools in the nation."

McPhillips also feels that the good of the many is an important factor, one at the heart of government operations.

"All of my decisions will be made based on what is best for the greatest number of people, and will be made prayerfully and thoughtfully," McPhillips said.