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History-making Fort Worth judge recalls legacy, continues to help law students after 99th birthday

Retired Judge Clifford Davis turned 99 years old Wednesday and gives advice to future attorneys.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jaylon Wesley is close to having a big dream come true. She will graduate law school next spring -- the first goal of many. 

"I'm a third-year student at Texas A&M School of Law," said Wesley.

"The ultimate goal?" Wesley said. "The very last thing I want to do is to either become a board of director at a Fortune 500 company or to become a judge." 

Becoming a judge is possible for Wesley. She credits much of that to history-maker retired Fort Worth Judge Clifford Davis. The L Clifford Davis Legal Association awards scholarships to law school students. 

Davis interacts with law students on a regular basis. He continues to offer personal and professional advice too.

Davis' number one piece of advice is telling law school students to always be prepared and never get caught off guard about their cases when it comes to information. He also encourages them to study hard, especially since they are spending a lot of money to get into a rewarding profession. 

"The time and effort you have to spend studying and the cost is expensive," Davis said. "And most parents are not able to just say, 'Go' and here's X number of dollars or whatever for your expenses are." 

Davis is known for far more than just helping law school students with expenses. In addition to opening the first Black law office in Fort Worth in the 1950's, he filed lawsuits that resulted in desegregating independent school districts in Mansfield and Fort Worth.

It's from a lifetime of work and involves a long lifetime too. Davis turns 99 on Wednesday, Oct. 12. 

 A description from L. Clifford David Legal Association reads:

A pioneering civil rights lawyer and former state judge, Davis has plenty of accomplishments to be proud of. After graduating from Howard University School of Law in 1949, Davis practiced civil rights law in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he says he was one of nine Black lawyers in the entire state. However, he saw a greater need for his services in Texas, where racial segregation was more prevalent. He became licensed in Texas in 1953, and in 1954, a young and single Davis moved to Fort Worth, where he was one of only two Black lawyers in the city.

Scholarship recipient Jecica Brown-Mitchell hopes to follow in Davis' footsteps. As a wife, mother of three and full-time employee, Brown-Mitchell attends night classes at UNT Dallas College of Law.

When she went to her family, friends and mentor about returning to college to pursue a law degree, she immediately got the support she needed, especially from her husband. She welcomed the law school scholarship and admired Davis for continually pouring into the lives of law school students. 

Brown-Mitchell said, "Judge Davis is well revered in the legal community and well respected and held to a high regard. And so anyone that receives his scholarship can be seen as such." 

Even with his 99th birthday around the corner, Davis is seen at events among young law students. He is huge on equality and never passes up a moment to share the importance for attorneys to help promote fairness for all people no matter their background. Davis enjoys every opportunity to share his life motto with law school students. 

"... And that is civil responsibility," said Davis. 

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