“A Lifetime of Preparation”
Will Crain always wanted to practice law, a passion that was no doubt fueled in part when, at age six, he watched his father sworn in as the second-youngest judge in Louisiana history. Those are large shoes to fill, but he was never pressed to fill them. If you ask Will, he’ll tell you having grown up watching his father work, he never felt his career path would lead him to be a judge. He never took a case or a job with the idea that it would position him to be elected judge. And while he didn’t plan to one day seek a seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court, he exudes the confidence born from a skill set and 33 year career he believes has prepared him for the job.
Will spent 22 years as a partner and practicing lawyer with Jones Fussell law firm in Covington before being elected and serving on the 22nd Judicial District Court for St. Tammany and Washington parishes from 2009 to 2013. Seven years ago, he took the bench on the First Circuit Court of Appeal and has now authored over 300 written and published opinions. Will’s focus was to make a positive impact on people’s lives and our court system: “My service as an appellate court judge has given me the chance to impact the body of law in Louisiana—the opinions we write and publish form the body of law that shape how lawyers work and how people live their lives every day,” he says. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to contribute to that body of law and to affect how district court judges apply that law to the people and interests that come before them.”
Will grew up in Bogalusa and focused much of his attention and energy on athletics. He recalls playing football at Bogalusa High School and finding inspiration in the words posted under the stadium scoreboard, a snippet from “It’s All In the State of Mind,” a poem by Walter D. Wintle. Because of its location, every time Will went on the field, whether for practice or a game, he saw those words. They remained so impactful that he later printed them and, at different times, when his four children were growing up, placed those words in their room. “Think big and your deeds will grow. Think small and you fall behind. Think you can and you will. It’s all in your state of mind.” After earning his accounting degree at LSU, he attended LSU law school. His lifelong desire to become a lawyer was finally within reach. “I remember reading my first case to prepare for the first day of class. It read like a story about real people who had done real things that had real outcomes and consequences and I thought ‘finally, this makes sense’.” he says. Will talks to students about his pride in the legal profession, calling it a noble profession, mentioning the analytical and practical skills acquired and the importance of the degree. These are values he believes stretch beyond the courtroom. “I’m proud to be a lawyer,” he chuckles, “despite the jokes.”
Will’s threshold for workload is high. “My wife asks why I bring so much work home and I tell her that it just doesn’t feel like work to me.” He described Cheri Hackett Crain, his wife of 34 years, as having youthful vitality. “She attacks the day with a vigor and a youthful excitement that I find amazing,” he says. Cheri was an elementary education teacher until the first of their four children, William (31), was born, then followed twins Michael and Matthew (29), and Elizabeth (20). The boys have all graduated from college and are in careers. Their only daughter Elizabeth is in her first year of nursing school at LSU.
The sports Will played as a young boy remain a part of his life. Though he no longer plays, he watches. Will also enjoys golf, fishing, and hunting, all of which provide opportunities for family time. Family is a clear priority for Will and his time with them is a crucial part of his makeup. When asked about his down time, he talked of spending time in Franklinton maintaining the place where his aunt lives and his father and uncle grew up. The opportunity for physical work allows him to clear his mind and return his focus.
Will sees his run for Louisiana Supreme Court as a natural, though unplanned, progression of his career and an opportunity he’s eager to face. “The work of the Supreme Court and the way the justices exercise judgment and decide complex and important cases before them affects every citizen in the state of Louisiana,” he says. “It affects our liberty and our prosperity, individually and as a state. With the support of voters, I am hopeful for the opportunity to use my unique qualifications and experience, 33 years as a lawyer or judge to make a positive impact on our body of law and the direction of our state.”
Above all, Will considers himself pragmatic and straightforward. “I love my work. I love my family, and I try to live my faith every day. That’s who I am.”
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