Thomas “Tom” Kerrick has had a long and distinguished 40-year career as an attorney, culminating in his swearing in as president of the Kentucky Bar Association on July 1.
Kerrick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1977 and his law degree in 1980 from the University of Kentucky, considers the education and support he received at UK instrumental in any success he has had. This is why he has continued to support the university and the J. David Rosenberg College of Law.
“I feel I owe so much to UK and particularly the law school. If it were not for the education I received there, I would not be where I am today,” says Kerrick, a litigator and shareholder with Kerrick Bachert Attorneys at Law in Bowling Green, practicing in the areas of personal injury, products liability, professional liability and insurance litigation. “I had friends at other law schools, and they said it felt like they were trying to fail you. At UK I never felt like they were trying to weed you out. Once you were in, it was a partnership to make you the best lawyer they can make you. The College of Law has been very good to me, so I felt I wanted to do whatever I could to give back in some manner.
“I get asked a lot today by students whether they should go to law school, and law school in Kentucky. I tell them, if you want to practice in Kentucky, you should go to UK or another school in state. But particularly UK, because the school is far more reaching and has a solid reputation.”
Kerrick, who has previously served as president of the UK Law Alumni Association from 1997 to 2000, got into law simply because he thought he would enjoy it.
“I didn’t have anyone in my family or friends that were lawyers. I just always had it in my mind that it was something I think I would like to do. I got an accounting degree and thought maybe I would be a tax lawyer,” he says. “I went to law school, and I think it was the first semester of my second year I had one very difficult corporate tax class, and I thought ‘Oh man, I’ve made a serious mistake,’” he says, laughing. “So for about a year I was wondering what would happen, and that third year I got into a litigation skills class and really liked it. I’ve been a litigator since then, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my practice, especially the trials.”
As he grew and establish his practice, Kerrick began to think about getting involved in the Kentucky Bar Association.
“In 2010, I started thinking about maybe it would be good to give something back to the Kentucky Bar Association. I do think we’ve got a great group of attorneys in the state of Kentucky, whether they’ve graduated from UK, UofL or Chase (Northern Kentucky University). We’ve really got a great group of individuals,” he says. “My first partner, Joe Bill Campbell, was president of the bar association in 1990, and that first kind of brought my attention to it. But I was so busy growing my practice it wasn’t until one of my current partners, around 2012, was getting off the Board of Governors, and he started talking to me about taking his place on the board. You can serve three, two-year terms there, and if you want to move onto the officer track, you can become vice president, president-elect and then president.
“I felt perhaps I could help shape the profession in some small fashion, so I decided to get into it. I did six years on the board, and it went by quickly. So I thought I would do the officer track, and we’ve got a great staff in Frankfort. They really keep my work to a minimum, keep us advised of the issues, keep the day-to-day operations flowing and keep my time focused on what is necessary.”
As president, he could also be asked to speak to current students at the J. David Rosenberg College of Law.
“I really would like going back and speaking to all of those young people,” he says.
To be elected president of the organization is a special honor Kerrick says.
“You are elected by your peers and get to go around the state and meet other attorneys. I feel like I know a reasonable amount of attorneys around the state since I’ve been practicing 40 years, so it gives me a chance to get from Paducah to Ashland. We travel all around the state,” he says. “I’m the voice of the Kentucky Bar Association, and we try to get around the state each year, meeting with attorneys to discuss what issues they have and see how best we can address their needs.”
Kerrick is also not the only UK grad in the family. His daughter, Angela Kerrick Nusky, earned a bachelor degree in psychology from the UK College of Arts & Sciences in 1997. His daughter, Remy, is a senior and is also considering law school.
Kerrick says he has been proud of his career. Of course, he’s not ready to call it a day anytime soon.
“It has been a lot of hard work during my busy time, certainly more than 40 hours a week. But it has been very rewarding, and you feel like you’ve helped a lot of people along the way and made a difference in their lives. Hopefully, I can do that a few more years before I hang it up,” he says. “I have no immediate plans to retire. I just turned 65, still running at full speed, and certainly hope my health stands up and allows me to do that for another few years before I start slowing down.”
— Story by Hal Morris