That slightly gruff exterior, layered perhaps from 20 years in the Navy, can't conceal Randolph Frails' compassion and deep sense of justice.
He's likely to scoff at this description, but those who know the 50-year-old attorney see it in courtrooms where Mr. Frails has practiced for the past decade.
Law is his second career. He started law school 15 days after retiring as a senior chief.
"And I graduated in 1997 and went to work," he said.
Mr. Frails has never been a stranger to work. As the fifth of nine children born in rural Columbia County, he picked and chopped cotton growing up, and he worked the 3-to-11 shift at King Mill his last year in high school.
"That motivated me to do something else," he said.
After graduating high school, he went to the recruiter's office to sign up for the Air Force. That office was closed, but the Navy recruiter was open.
He earned his undergraduate degree in aviation management while in the Navy. Becoming a lawyer had been an idea Mr. Frails kept in the back of his mind, but a 1978 accident involving his father gave him an incentive.
That year, his father was a passenger hurt in an automobile accident, Mr. Frails said. Hospital staff dismissed him as being intoxicated and sent him home. He died with cracked ribs and spinal fractures and one of the main vessels of his heart pierced, Mr. Frails said. There was a lawsuit.
"What the lawyers did I thought I could do just as well," said Mr. Frails, who was quick to add that since he became a working attorney, he has developed an appreciation for what they did.
He said he became a lawyer to help others with their problems.
Mr. Frails said he believes that as one of the few minority attorneys in town, he is especially obligated to try to give something back to the community. He primarily focuses his practice on real estate, but he takes criminal cases, appellate work, and civil and domestic cases, too.
Mr. Frails has a staff of four paralegals/secretaries and recently hired a law school graduate and an intern to help him.
"I like to be able to provide people with jobs" as a way of paying back the community, he said.
"I love helping people, solving people's problems and being their advocate," he said.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDUCATION: Earned law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law after retiring from the U.S. Navy
FAMILY: Married, two daughters and one grandson