Law student Larry Taylor of Ferris had a front row seat to history during the spring legislative session, serving as an intern in the House Parliamentarian’s Office.
A law student at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, the 34-year-old Taylor had a choice of an internship in Washington, D.C., or in Austin with the Texas Legislative Intern Program.
State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, recommended Taylor for a position with the Speaker’s Office, which assigned him to the Parliamentarian’s Office, where Taylor helped with such duties as writing memos, researching points of order and interacting with members.
“They made sure I got the full experience,” said Taylor, who was often stationed near the speaker’s dais to interact with members when the House was in session.
He has nothing but praise for the two parliamentarians he worked under: chief parliamentarian Denise Davis and deputy house parliamentarian Chris Griesel.
“They were great,” he said of the small office, which also included an office director and part-time office assistant. “They treated me more like family than an intern. They threw me into the fire and gave me work.
“Chris and Denise are two of the greatest people I ever met and probably will meet,” said Taylor, noting he takes with him many wonderful memories of the session and working with everyone, from staff members to the House’s members up through the Speaker’s Office.
“I worked hard. I laughed, and I made a lot of friends,” he said.
Taylor put in long hours during his internship, which provided only a stipend - not a paycheck, because interns are not state employees. He arrived to work at about 7:30 a.m. and typically left after everyone else - but he didn’t mind the hours or workload.
“I liked the late hours,” said Taylor, a self-described “rules and law junkie” who says he loves to discuss topics of that nature.
“I talked about topics like germaneness and bad bill analysis so much with my wife that I don’t think she ever wants to talk about that again.”
The road to
where he is
“I moved to Ellis County because of the people,” said Taylor, recalling how he was driving through one day and stopped at a barbecue place.
“The woman there was more like an aunt than an owner,” he said, commenting on the friendliness he encountered. “I just noticed how everyone spoke to each other.”
He moved his family to the county four years ago and Taylor went to work for Guaranty Bank.
During the past several years, he said he became increasingly aware of industry changes and topics such as the future of Social Security and financial planning. His concern for what might await ahead was part of what prompted him to enroll in law school.
“I wanted to make sure I understood bills of law if they passed - and if they were negative to people, I wanted to be able to do something about it,” he said.
A native Floridian, Taylor grew up in Houston and graduated in 1994 from Texas A&M University, where he was a four-year letterman in track and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology that included some pre-med coursework.
Although he’s the first in his family not to attend a historically black university for an undergraduate degree, his decision to attend Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern brings him enrichment of that heritage. It also allows him a special bond with his father, a Texas Southern alumnus.
End of the session
On the last Friday of the 80th Legislature’s regular session, Davis and Griesel announced their resignations, effective immediately.
“I was working that night and taking care of my duties,” said Taylor, who wasn’t on the floor at the time. “I came back and the wheels were already in motion.”
Within several hours, House Speaker Tom Craddick announced the parliamentarians’ replacements, with the Legislature completing its work during the next several days.
With his internship complete and time due him, Taylor also wrapped up his work and was able to return home in time to spend Memorial Day Weekend with his family.
“I took the time to be at home with the people who mean the most to me,” he said. “They wanted hamburgers and hot dogs and my family represents the four most important constituents I have.”
He is married to Nicole, a Southern Methodist University alumnus and attorney. They have three children: Larry III, 8; Xaira, 6; and Malcolm, 5. To keep from uprooting his family as he completes his law degree, Taylor has commuted home on the weekends from Texas Southern for two years now.
With the session and internship over, Taylor will work in Ellis County this summer before returning to Texas Southern this fall for his final year.
Besides completing his studies, a major challenge for the year ahead includes his service as a student regent for Texas Southern. Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in May, Taylor has taken a seat on the university’s board.
“We are new captains of an old ship,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to bring TSU back to the great university it has been. We’re very determined in making sure the school has all of the mechanics to run sufficiently in the future.”
In recognition of his selection as student regent for Texas Southern, Craddick honored Taylor toward the end of the session with a resolution.
“This notable young Texan graduated from Texas A&M University and has worked for Guaranty Financial Services and Homeland Insurance,” the resolution reads. “Currently a law clerk for House Parliamentarian Denise Davis, he has participated in the Texas Legislative Internship Program, and his characteristic dedication and strong work ethic have earned him the respect of many people during his legislative service.”
The resolution goes on to describe Taylor as “a valued member of a number of worthy organizations,” including the Black Law Students, the Hispanic Law Students and American Bar associations.
“In his new role as a student regent, Mr. Taylor will devote long hours to ensure that the wants and needs of his fellow students are addressed, and the men and women of TSU will surely benefit from his efforts in their behalf,” the resolution reads, extending “congratulations and sincere best wishes for a successful tenure.”
To the future
Down the road, Taylor hopes to focus his practice on real estate and banking and one day would like to find himself back in Austin.
“I had a great experience there,” he said of his days at the Capitol. “Everyone treated me really nice. Everyone is like a family.”
He describes the experience as one he couldn’t replace.
“I enjoyed everyone, regardless of their opinion,” he said. “I was there to learn and there’s something to learn from all situations. I enjoyed my internship immensely, and I loved seeing all of the members and what they do. I couldn’t pay enough for this experience.”
Taylor has high praise for state Rep. Jim Pitts, who he met at the start of the session and had several occasions to speak with during its course. Taylor will work this summer for Pitts’ business, Ellis County Abstract and Title.
“Ellis County is well served and protected by Rep. Pitts, and as a resident of Ellis County I am honored to have Rep. Pitts as our leader,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed the time I spent with him and I think he does the county a great service.”
As with his life and for the future, Taylor said he will continue to rely on God to show him the path to follow.
“I’m real big on letting God lead me,” he said. “I’ve just been led into opportunities, and the Lord has opened the doors. … You can’t go where you want to go but you have to go where God leads you.”
Along the way, he hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams, especially young people. A deacon in his church, Taylor said one of his daily goals is to bring a smile to people’s faces.
“Every day I try to make whoever’s life I come in contact with a little better,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in effecting people’s lives with joy. If I can make you smile at least once, I’ve done what I needed to do.”
E-mail JoAnn at email@example.com