Thomas Johns' Legal Career Takes Flight in the Evening Program
Armed with knowledge from a class he took his first year in law school, Thomas Johns took a gamble. And it paid off, literally. “I got a smoking hot deal on a house with title issues and the only reason it happened was from a property class I took,” he said.
After doing extensive research on the house, he was the only bidder to realize that for a few thousand dollars he could clear up the title issues. Once he convinced his bank to finance his deal, he wrote a check to clear the title, before he even owned the home. That risk turned a couple thousand dollars into several hundreds of thousands in home equity. “The way I see it,” he said, “law school has already paid for itself.”
One would think that Johns was a natural born attorney, but before law school he spent 10 years flying freight planes, regional airlines and corporate jets. He worked for four companies in 10 years. Johns had logged over 6,200 hours of flight time and relocated all over the country for different jobs. He yearned for a fresh start.
“I decided to go to law school because of the instability in the aviation industry, after getting laid off again and again,” he said. “Law was one of the few fields I could go into where I could apply my expertise in the aviation industry.”
While his wife worked long hours at the hospital for her residency, Johns used his time out of work to take care of his two young daughters. Once she finished and became a full-time physician, the law school application process began.
Loyola’s Evening Program stood out because it offered a three-and-a- half-year track to graduation. Johns jumped at the chance to begin his legal career early. Though the program moves at a quicker pace and summer school is required, Johns welcomed the challenge. “There’s so many classes offered at night, so I’m able to stack my classes and enjoy some free days to spend time with my kids.” He and his wife coordinate their schedules so that one of them is always home with the kids.
Johns was amazed by the sense of camaraderie he felt from his section mates. He expected a competitive environment, but found a supportive group of friends instead. “We’ve never had an instance when people wouldn’t share information or notes, and we’ve had a ton of get-togethers outside of class.”
He attributes the diversity of the group to their compatibility. “We’ve got people from a variety of backgrounds: writers, biologists, editors and government officers to name a few. We’re so different yet we get along so well.”
Johns stepped forward once a leadership position on the SBA board was available and he was elected to the position of first-year evening class representative. “I wanted to be the class rep because it gave me a chance to get to know my classmates,” he said.
Now in his third year, Johns is eager to find an externship to gain some experience in either aviation law or estate planning. His wife is also expecting their third child, and he couldn’t be happier.
Flying remains one of his favorite activities—whenever he can find the time for a joy ride.