- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - John F. Knox III has taken a unique path to his new law career.

In fact, before being hired as an associate in October at Hicks Law Firm, PLLC in Hattiesburg, Knox spent 10 years traveling the globe during a distinguished military career with the U.S. Army.

A native of Haughton, La., Knox began his military stint at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where in May 2004 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Following that, Knox served with the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 84th Explosive Ordnance Battalion at Fort Riley, Kan.

The military also took Knox overseas, where he served in both Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

It was sometime while traveling between those two countries that Knox realized he had a decision to make.

“I knew I had to figure out if I wanted to stay in the military or to pursue another career,” he said. “I’d always wanted to go to law school, and figured that if I was going to do that, then this was the time for it.”

To that end, Knox took his law school admissions test while he was still in Iraq. After leaving the Army, he was accepted to the University of Mississippi Law School in 2010.

While at Ole Miss, Knox married Danail Marie Pacheco, who was also in the Army. Pacheco was later stationed at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, so Knox commuted regularly from Oxford to spend time with her.

In a nice twist of fate, it was during one of those trips when Knox was introduced to associates from Hicks Law Firm, where he soon started summer work. After graduating from Ole Miss in May - and passing the bar exam in July - Knox realized his passion of a law career when he was hired as an associate by the firm.

The decision to hire Knox was an easy one for managing partner Clark Hicks, who was impressed by Knox’s outstanding military run.

“John stood out above the rest,” Hicks said. “One of the reasons that I hired him was because I knew that if he could fight a combatant enemy, he could fight for his clients.

“That’s just right on the money - he’s disciplined, energetic, trustworthy and hardworking. He’s got every attribute that you would expect from someone from our armed forces. The adversity that he faced made him a better candidate and a better law associate.”

Although his first few months as a lawyer have been a learning process, Knox said he couldn’t have found a better firm to start out with.

“The great thing about this firm is that it’s small enough to where we can pick and choose what we want to handle, and there’s something new to handle every day,” he said. “One day could be a wrongful death case, and the next day it could be defending a police officer that was in a traffic accident.

“That’s what I really enjoy, is being able to flex between different specialties and really get a broad range, and that’s what keeps it fresh every day.”

Knox has gotten off to a running start in his first few months with Hicks Law Firm. In the span of less than six months, he’s even been able to try cases in actual courtrooms, which is an opportunity most attorneys don’t get until several years after the bar exam.

“We really enjoy working with him,” senior associate Lane Dossett said. “He’s incredibly skilled and professional.”

Because of his rapid ascension at the firm, Hicks believes the sky is the limit for Knox.

“If he wants to continue on his path of being a litigator and handling cases in court, he can achieve that quickly and be very successful,” Hicks said. “If he wants to become a corporate or transactions lawyer, he certainly has the ability to do that as well. But I’m certainly hoping that he’ll settle in Hattiesburg and continue to grow in the firm that we have.”

So although Knox may not have always known his life’s path would lead him to be a lawyer, there’s not too much else he could imagine himself doing.

“I couldn’t have predicted 10 years ago that I’d be sitting here doing this, but I’m ecstatic that it happened this way,” he said. “One of the things that always inspired me is that I don’t like bullies, and I really don’t like when people have their rights bullied.

“I’ve seen situations in other countries where they don’t have rights like we do here in America, and a lot of times we take that for granted. Maybe I just have too big of a heart, but I just like to stand up for people and help people in their time of need.”


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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