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If home is where the heart is, Richard Filce's belongs to Hattiesburg

Richard Filce always knew he would return to Hattiesburg.

A Louisiana native, something stuck with him as young man attending college at The University of Southern Mississippi.

He knew the minute he left he would be back. Call it intuition, or call it fate.

All we know is Richard belongs in Hattiesburg, and he is here to stay.

We caught up with Richard to see why the city means so much to him and his family.

When did you move to Hattiesburg?

I grew up in south Louisiana.  In 1989, I came to USM as an undergrad and met my future wife, Hollie.  After USM, I spent three years in law school at Tulane and five years working at a downtown New Orleans firm.  Hollie finished her PhD at the University of New Orleans and was hired at USM in 2001, so we happily moved back to town with a two-year old along for the ride.  

Why did you decide to raise your family in Hattiesburg?

I really enjoyed my time in school at USM and had a vague thought that I might like to come back to town someday.  When our first child was born, we began to seriously talk about Hattiesburg as a destination.  I liked New Orleans (and still do), but traffic and parking and other bigger city issues can chip away at quality of life time.  The size of Hattiesburg seemed like the “Goldilocks” zone for us.  Once we moved back, we added two more kids to the mix.

Why do you feel connected to the town?

It certainly feels like home now.  We recently moved to the historic district and are already seeing the benefits of walking to the downtown parks, restaurants, etc.  My oldest has now followed in her parents footsteps at the USM Honors College (yes, this makes me feel very old).   

Why did you choose to become a lawyer?

Oddly, I’m not sure I ever chose it because I really had no idea what being a lawyer involved.  I decided on law school with no intention of working as a full time lawyer.  I had majored in sports administration and went to Tulane because of its sports law program.  I needed to work during law school to pay bills, so I started clerking at a firm downtown.  I guess the research and reading needed to be a good lawyer appealed to my nerdy side.  After graduation, I had a couple of job offers, but decided to stay with that firm. 

What about practicing law in Hattiesburg makes your career rewarding?

The primary benefit to practicing in Hattiesburg as opposed to New Orleans is that I can have a true small-town “general” practice.  My favorite part of the job is having an initial consultation with a new client who presents a new problem or issue that I can dig into and learn about.  I don’t like doing the same thing over and over.  Being bored is never an issue at Lowrey & Fortner.

If you could describe the people of Hattiesburg in one word, what would it be and why?

“Friendly” sounds too boring, so I’ll go with “inviting.”  You can have a conversation with anyone here, even complete strangers, and no one would think that’s weird.

What do you hope for your children to have in Hattiesburg years down the road?

For all of the bright, high-achieving kids in Hattiesburg, I just want them to see staying here (or returning here one day) as a long-term option.  Hattiesburg is small enough that you can see positive change happening all the time.  I think its one of the best kept secrets in the deep south. Spending time here would open the eyes of lots of folks who view the small-town south as “backwards.” 

Learn more about Richard and his practice here.

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