News 2 celebrates Black History Month: A trail blazer who sat on the bench

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — Richard E Fields is a Charleston native who says there was a compelling reason he became a lawyer more than 70 years ago.

“I never wanted to work for anyone,” he said.

He graduated West Virginia State and Howard University School of Law even though his parents barely attended school.

“My mother finished 4th or 5th grade and my father never finished any grade he couldn’t read or write,” he said.

Fields became the first black attorney to run a law office in Charleston since Reconstruction.

In 1969, he became a municipal judge, a position he held until becoming a Family Court judge in 1975.

In 1980, he was elected a circuit judge, and served until his retirement from the bench in 1992.

He helped establish Liberty National Bank in 1980, serving on the board of trustees of Claflin University and becoming involved in rural land preservation.

There is nothing more important to the widower than his family but he holds a special place in his life for his law clerks.

“I enjoyed mentoring young lawyers and it has paid off for me magnificiently” he said.

He is 95 years old and yet his work continues, both in his church and his law practice.  He has lived through nearly every decade of the 20th century not afraid of change and always excited about the possibilities.

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