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Attorney reflects on life of law in downtown Newnan

by Clay Neely

dreyer.jpgIn life, we often look for those little telltale signs that pop up every so often.

For Doug Dreyer, his popped up along the way to a job interview in 1988. Prior to his graduation from law school at Mercer University, Dreyer had sent out his resume to a number of law firms around the South.

One in particular was in Newnan with Rosenzweig, Jones, McNabb.

Driving up for his interview, the transmission on his car gave out just outside of Jackson. He began hitchhiking when a traveling salesman picked him up, citing that someone had done the same for him many years ago. They rode together to Griffin, where Dreyer ultimately rented a car to make his interview.

At some point during his interview, George Rosenzweig apologized to Dreyer, explaining that he had to take a call from Bank of Coweta, as they were foreclosing on a used car lot.

“As luck would have it,” Dryer recalled, chuckling, “I told him I could use a car and told him my story. He hired me on the spot and I came to work in Newnan one month later.”

Prior to his arrival in Newnan, Dreyer’s interest in law came at an early age. Growing up in Chattanooga, he recalled only three channels of television and, along the way, fell in love with Perry Mason.

“No one in my family was in law, but I was just enamored with it,” he said. “In time, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

When Dreyer arrived in 1988, there were only 32 practicing attorneys in the area – eight were at Rosenzweig. He recalled the period of time when court was held every other Thursday, “and it was always Judge Lee or maybe Judge Dewey Smith sometimes.”

“But your court days were fairly brief because you didn’t have a lot of cases and you knew how Judge Lee liked to work,” Dreyer said. When the Carnegie Library was restored, there was a period of time when court was held there and at the courthouse across the street.

“You would see people going back and forth from the corner, often lugging boxes of case files,” he recalled, smiling. “Since the library was right on the street, we would briefly stop talking during the proceedings and just wait for them to pass.”

During his tenure at Rosenzweig, Dreyer felt that his own success was the byproduct of being fortunate to learn under such a list of accomplished attorneys.

“George (Rosenzweig), Joe McNabb, Mike Cam, Randy Ebersbach,” Dreyer recalled. “Pope Jones was one of the greatest real estate attorneys in town. There were a lot of good litigation attorneys in that firm so I was very fortunate to work there.”

The opportunity to work at the firm also presented Dreyer with an education that couldn’t be taught in a classroom.

“You only learn the basic concepts at law school,” Dreyer said. “The opportunity to get your start under a great lawyer is what gives you an edge.”

As the county grew, so did the judicial system, which now boasts seven judges in the circuit. In 2001, Dryer went out on his own, focusing primarily on family law.

“There was an assigned attorney list for indigent criminal defense and you ultimately get tired of criminals, stories, dealing with prosecutors and officers,” he recalled. “Not that they’re bad, but it just wears on you.”

Citing his desire to move out of the realm of criminal defense, Dreyer attempted to build his practice of family law which allowed him more flexibility. With a family at home, scheduling a happy balance between work and domestic life was a priority.

“I can knock off early to see my daughter’s game but you might miss dinner because you still have work to do back at the office,” Dreyer said.

And while he remains removed from the world of criminal law, he still sees the abuse that happens behind closed doors in family law.

“It’s astonishing what people are capable of,” Dryer said. “The abuse is not just physical, but it’s controlling, emotional and financial.”

“When I go home from work, I tell my wife how lucky I am to have her. It really puts things in perspective.”

With new lawyers cropping up all the time, Dreyer has no plans of riding into the sunset anytime soon.

“There used to be one or two new attorneys a year but now there are people I haven’t even met,” Dreyer said. “Many say they have an office here in their advertising but it’s just a phone that forwards to their Atlanta office. The nature of law has changed.”

Regardless, Dreyer says he enjoys his work more than ever.

“Besides, no one retires at 62, especially if you own your business,” Dreyer said. “Your health, mind and willingness to do it has to hold up.”

“They call it practicing for a reason,” he said. “You’re always watching and learning new things. Everything is similar for the larger portion but there might be a different way of asking a question that grabs you. It’s satisfying work.”

 

Resource:  Newnan Times-Herald/Clay Neely