By MELINDA WILLIAMS
After more than 50 years of legal practice, Pulaski attorney Alan Groseclose took down his shingle Wednesday.
While he says he “probably would have preferred” to continue practicing part-time for a while longer rather than entering full retirement, “It’s too complicated to comply with all of the regulations and insurance and everything else you have to do.”
So, he has been working for a while to make arrangement for legal representation of the clients he can no longer serve. He said he will be able to continue serving as executor or trustee for some of his clients, “but I can’t keep my shingle out, open to the public, to give legal advice.”
Groseclose has seen some “dramatic” changes in the law profession during his nearly 54-year career. After graduating law school at University of Virginia in 1958, he practiced in New York for a year before returning home to Pulaski.
Over the years, he said, he practiced what is known as “small town, county seat law where you do a little bit of everything,” but that kind of practice is becoming a thing of the past.
“It (the legal profession) hardly resembles what it was when I was a young lawyer getting into practice,” he said. “It’s become so specialized and over-regulated. Every field of law is almost a specialty now” much like the medical profession.
“It’s hard to be a young lawyer coming into a practice now,” he said, explaining that the pool of clients is narrower when there is less diversity in the types of law practiced.
“I think people need a lawyer like they need a family physician” to handle issues they can’t handle themselves, Groseclose added. He said a lot of people in a town the size of Pulaski “don’t have terribly complicated problems,” but they need someone to help them through paperwork and other matters.
He doesn’t think the changes in the profession are necessarily for the good and he isn’t sure he would go into law practice again if given a choice, but he has enjoyed being able to live in his hometown and practice his profession.
Asked what he would have done if not law, he said he is interested in a lot of things, but doesn’t have a particular profession in mind.
His hobbies including working with computers and reading about science and physics – “questions about the universe and the Hubble telescope. The things they do now just blow your mind.”
He added, “I would certainly enjoy doing that if I could just get the education necessary for it.”
Groseclose was born in Pulaski, “up on the hill where Randolph House was.” Upon graduating from Pulaski High School (then in the current County Administration Building) in 1948, he went to Davidson College, where he was in the ROTC program.
After graduating college, he went into the Army a few years, then headed to law school at UVA.
Asked what he plans to do in his retirement, he said he plans a lot of reading. He used to be a golfer, but leg problems prevent him from being able to get around as well as he used to, so he probably won’t be taking up the sport again.
He also enjoys traveling, but doesn’t have any “big trips” planned.
Groseclose has an obvious interest in local history. He recalled Pulaski during his younger days.
“The town was very compact. In fact, businesses were all crowded into Pulaski,” he said. “There was all kinds of activity in a very small area.”
With several furniture and textile manufactures operating within the town limits, he said, “there were thousands of people working in Pulaski. It was a very busy place.”
He added, “I think the biggest change is the huge loss of people and business downtown.”
Even the grocery stores were located downtown back then and they, like other stores, were small.
“My family traded with S&S grocery store on Commerce Street and it probably wasn’t more than 25 feet wide,” he said, recalling how customers would take their grocery list into the store and read off what they wanted to a clerk, who would get the items and bring them to the counter.
“Grocery shopping was entirely different from what it is today,” he added.
Pulaski County Courthouse has changed a lot over the years as well.
Groseclose used to live in Court View Apartments, which were across the street from the courthouse. He and the other children would play on the courthouse lawn where the brick addition stands today.
He noted there were a lot of big trees on the property at that time, but there have been multiple changes to the building and grounds since then.
Most of the schools he attended are still standing, including Jefferson in Southwest Pulaski and Central (now the County Administration Building) in Northwest.
He said he is proud of the fact Pulaski County has always had an outstanding school system, adding, “I don’t think people appreciate the quality of education folks could get.”
While recently looking at his yearbook, he noticed a picture of the junior class honor society and realized what this small group had become. One is a Circuit Court judge, another a Juvenile Court judge, there is a pediatrician, a “nationally famous” theologian, and an executive for Appalachian Power Co.
“To me it was quite remarkable that you could take one small club in Pulaski and have that much accomplishment,” he said.