2018 Citizen Lawyer Award Winner TJ Solomon
The Citizen Lawyer Committee of the NCBA Young Lawyers Division, in conjunction with the NCBA Citizen Lawyer Committee, provides expanded coverage of the 2018 Citizen Lawyer Award recipients in recognition of their volunteer service and leadership in their communities and beyond.
By Courtney Roller
GASTONIA – As the grandson of four immigrants from Syria and Lebanon, Theodore John “T.J.” Solomon II was raised celebrating his heritage. “I grew up around many different ethnic groups and was taught we are equal and need to treat each other with respect,” said Solomon.
The North Carolina Bar Association is pleased to honor Solomon as a 2018 recipient of the Citizen Lawyer Award.
Solomon is a partner at Gray, Layton, Kersh, Solomon, Furr & Smith, P.A. In addition to his personal injury practice, he has taken the lead in providing traffic law services to the Hispanic community in Gaston County. “He was one of the first folks to really reach out to the Hispanic population and address their needs,” said attorney Nancy Paschal, a friend and fellow Gastonia East Rotary Club member.
In minority communities, legal issues can often be exacerbated by a language barrier. Solomon, along with his bi-lingual staff, helps combat that issue by offering legal advice in Spanish. Though he jokes he only knows enough Spanish to effectively assist clients, Solomon learned Spanish during the three years he was stationed in Spain while serving as a JAG officer in the United States Air Force.
Despite his extensive travels abroad and living in multiple locations throughout the U.S. (including Iowa - where he played college football four years as a linebacker at Coe College), Solomon has embraced Gaston County as his home and made himself an integral part of the local community. “This community has been good to me,” said Solomon.
Through his affiliations with many nonprofits, Solomon has been good to this community, as well, providing services and support to those who are most in need. Described by friends as a quiet leader, Solomon has never limited his passion for helping others to one issue or one group. In 2016, Solomon was awarded the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Masked Award for his commitment to promoting higher education among minority students. He also helped establish a scholarship fund in honor of the late chief district court judge, Ralph C. “Skip” Gingles, Jr.
“He’s a genuinely nice guy. You can tell he has compassion in his heart for all people regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender - or any class you could put a person into - it wouldn’t matter to T.J.,” said Ms. Paschall, having known Mr. Solomon for more than thirty years, “He’s just one of those folks that you want on your side.”
Courtney Roller is an attorney for Roller Law in Thomasville.