When Lem Adams, III first moved to Rankin County in 1973 to practice law, it was a much different place than it is today.
“When I first moved here there was not a fast food restaurant in the entire county,” said Adams. “The first one was Dairy Queen in Pearl, so on Sundays after church everyone went to the Dairy Queen in Pearl.”
Adams, the 2012 President-Elect of the Mississippi Bar Association, has watched what was the small, rural county in which he began practicing law explode from a population of approximately 44,000 residents in 1970 to over 141,000 currently. And Adams has worked hand-in-hand with its residents all the way through the continuing growth.
Adams began his practice in Brandon because “at the time it had the lowest per-capita population of lawyers in the surrounding areas.” He has worked with numerous Rankin County communities as they’ve grown, serving as Rankin County Prosecuting Attorney and city attorney for the cities of Brandon (1977-1989), Flowood (1989–2002), and Pelahatchie (1981-2003). He has also served as counsel to the Rankin/Hinds/Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District.
Adams currently serves as Board Attorney for the Rankin County Board of Supervisors, working with his longtime friend George Bobo, county administrator for Rankin.
“I went to work with the City of Brandon in 1984 and Lem taught me a lot about city government and the law,” said Bobo. “He is super knowledgeable about everything and does a really good job listening to situations before coming up with solutions.”
Those same qualities “will make him a good representative for the Bar,” said Bobo.
Six years after moving to Brandon and working with a solo practitioner, Adams started his own law firm, which now consists of nine lawyers. As Rankin County and his law firm grew, so did Adams’ reputation.
“It’s hard to go anywhere where someone doesn’t know him,” said Mike Boland, one of Adams’ partners in the law firm of Adams & Edens, P.A. “You can walk into a courtroom anywhere in the state and someone will ask you how Lem is doing.”
This is in part because of Adams’ involvement in the Mississippi Bar and his community. Adams has served on the Board of Bar Commissioners, the Executive Committee of the Bar, the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules, a volunteer lawyer with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, a facilitator in the James O. Dukes Law School Professionalism Program, and a volunteer attorney with Mission First. Adams was inducted as a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation and has served on its nominating committee.
In the community, Adams and his wife of forty years, Marcia, are members of Lakeland Presbyterian Church, where he serves as a ruling elder. Adams is currently vice chairman of the Board of Directors of Desire Street Ministries, an inner city ministry to at risk youth in the New Orleans 9th Ward and other poor areas in the Southeast. Adams is also a Life Member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and the Ole Miss Loyalty Foundation.
Adam’s “diversification” in his law practice and community involvement make him an ideal Bar president, said Adams’ longtime law partner, Frank Edens, Sr. “He is just excellent working with people,” said Edens.
“He is an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to practice law with and against,” said long-time friend, attorney John Toney.
It is his wide variety and collection of experiences that Adams’ hopes will serve him well as President of the Bar. With plenty of other things to keep him busy, Adams is now accustomed to the hectic pace and is excited about the new challenge of serving as bar president.
“I look forward to serving all members of the bar in whatever way I can,” he said.
Adams and Marcia have two children, Whitty McCloud of Baton Rouge and Lem IV of Brandon. Adams has one grandaughter, Morgan. Adams graduated from McComb High School, attended Southwest Community College, and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss.
When not practicing law or spending time with family, Adams is an avid hunter and fisherman. He is also a self-described New York Yankee fanatic.