In 1998, Mercer University College of Liberal Arts alumnus Walter Davis was completing his final year of undergraduate education, unsure of the trajectory of his career. Now, Davis is gearing up to take on a position that will make history – something he said would have amazed his younger self.
In January, Davis will begin his new role as the judge in charge of creating and implementing a statewide business court. He will be the first judge in Georgia’s history to not have to sit for election.
“If you would have told me that I would be leaving a long and successful career at Jones Day to be the governor’s selection to start and lead a new court, I would have found that unbelievable,” Davis said.
Davis spent the last 17 years as a partner at Jones Day law firm where his focus ranged from securities litigations to corporate governance matters.
He said his time at Jones Day was comparable to his experience at Mercer.
“It’s got a culture of teamwork, it’s got a culture of collaboration, and most important to me was their commitment to training,” Davis said of the law firm.
Davis also values service and leadership, which are reflected in his life’s work.
During his time at Mercer, he was heavily involved in the leadership and community service aspects of his fraternity. He double-majored in philosophy and political science and, before graduating, won numerous awards for his commitment to service and leadership through Greek life.
Davis said his time at Mercer played a big role in the development of his leadership skills.
“It allowed me to grow in a way that allowed me to take on leadership positions, excel academically and really thrive in that small-school environment,” Davis said of the University. “Some of that was sort of testing out my leadership skills that would grow into adulthood, so it was really quite formative for me during that period of time.”
Davis has gone on to serve in other leadership positions. As an alumnus, he served on the board for Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts. He has also served on the board of Kate’s Club and the Make a Wish Foundation in Georgia. He is currently on the leadership council of Zoo Atlanta and chairs the board of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.
Davis said the sense of service that he prioritizes in life comes from his upbringing and also from “the ethos that exists at Mercer.”
As a lawyer, service plays an important role in his job, an aspect that Davis enjoys.
“I really like being an advocate,” Davis said. “I like the relationship with my clients as a counselor helping them with some of their biggest problems.”
Now, Davis’ role will go a step further, creating a space for larger business disputes to be handled at a statewide level.
He said his goal is to create an effective and neutral court for all who do business in Georgia.
His time at Mercer prepared him to further his education, which ultimately resulted in a successful career in law, but if you asked him during that time where he would be in the future, Davis said he would have never believed it would be where he is today – making history.
“One of the reasons I decided ultimately to take the job is because I was reflecting back on my time as a young person and was thinking about how unbelievable this opportunity would seem to me at the age of 18 or 22,” Davis said. “That really sealed it for me.”