Bob Buckley for The Examiner: Carrying on a Family Tradition

Bob Buckley, partner at White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, is a regular columnist for The Examiner of East Jackson County. In his latest column, Buckley discusses his family history of lawyers, which includes his great-grandfather, and his potential “lawyer genes.”

The article, Carrying on a Family Tradition, was published in the March 8 edition of The Examiner. An excerpt from the article is below.


I was predestined to become a lawyer. My dreams began as a high school student. One of my heroes was that squeaky former mayor of Kansas City, Charles Wheeler. Dr. Wheeler was both a lawyer and a doctor, and I thought that was cool until I discovered that it meant being in college for over 10 years, and after I took my first science class in college and realized that science was not my thing.

I was in a botany class with a group of first-year medical students who were in the six-year medical school program at UMKC. I soon realized that I did not have the aptitude for being a physician, but my dream of law school remained alive.

I am not quite sure how my dream of law began, but I am sure that my parents never steered me in that direction. I remember well the night I passed the bar exam. There was some ritual in 1980 that you could not find out until a Friday night after midnight when the results were posted at the Supreme Court building in Jefferson City. You could drive to Jefferson City, call to find out, or you could have a good friend who lived there and have him check and call you with the results; that is what I did.

I remember my dad’s tears as we met in the hallway of the home I now occupy. It was a very proud moment for him and me. It has now been almost 40 years since that moment occurred, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

As it turns out, I was not the first lawyer in the family. I never knew that until after my father passed away 14 years ago. My great-grandfather was a lawyer in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I don’t recall my father ever discussing my great-grandfather. That is probably because he never knew him. My dad was born in 1923, and his grandfather passed away 11 years before in 1912. My dad and I had something in common as my grandfather, my dad’s father, passed away eight years before I was born.

My great-grandfather, William Dayton Buckley, was apparently a prominent lawyer in Fort Smith. He was born in Poteau, Oklahoma, about 35 miles southwest of Forth Smith. My grandfather and my father were also born in Poteau. I have never been to Fort Smith or Poteau, but I think a family road trip is being planned to visit the area. There is a William Buckley currently practicing in Fort Smith, but I don’t know if he is related. We will find out. He practices in the same area of the law that I do.

To read the full article, visit The Examiner.