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Lori Keeton on how strong family roots guided her to her career and the woman she is today

Updated: Jan 12, 2019

Photos by Cass Bradley of BlueSky Photo Artists

Lori Keeton is an attorney in South Charlotte which could sound a little ordinary in a city filled with lawyers. But, Lori is anything but ordinary. She’s got deep Southern roots and is a third-generation female entrepreneur. Lori can be found arguing in court one day and teaching Sunday school to 4- and 5-year-olds the next. She’s a leader and a champion. Check out Lori’s story…

What brought you to Charlotte?

I was in my third year of law school at the University of Florida and fully intended to stay in Florida. I came to visit Charlotte one weekend and fell in love with the city. When I got a job offer from a great law firm in town, I took it as a sign that I was meant to be here. I look back now and laugh at how 24-year-old me thought nothing of completely changing my plans to move to a city where I had spent a total of three days and knew three people. But you know what, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

What made you stay in Charlotte?

There are many things in life that don’t turn out to be as great as they initially seem. Charlotte is just the opposite. I love it more with each passing year and cannot imagine living anywhere else. There is so much opportunity and growth here—not to mention amazing people. I am truly proud to call Charlotte my home.

What kind of lawyer are you?

I practice civil litigation and also assist clients with risk management with my firm Lori Keeton Law.

What does that mean?

Long answer: I represent parties in legal disputes where one side is trying to get a judge and/or jury to order the other side to do something (pay money, etc.).

Short answer: I am an advocate, a confidante, and a problem solver.

And you are a third-generation entrepreneur?

Yes! I come from a line of strong, motivated women.

My grandmother should have graduated number one in her high school class in Forest, Mississippi, but they bumped her to number two to let a man be number one. She went on to own a restaurant and a fabric store. She was truly a trailblazer.

My mom was a single mom for many years. During that time, she was a teacher and had a second job at night to support my sister and me. Once we finished college, my mom finally got the chance to pursue her dream of being a real estate agent and broker. She is tremendously successful thanks to her work ethic and her love for her clients.

I aspire to honor the sacrifices they made on my behalf and the example they set for me.

What made you decide to practice law?

Again, I blame/credit my family. My stepfather was Dean of Mississippi College School of Law. My mom was an English teacher. My sisters were… sisters. In other words, there was lots of arguing at the dinner table.

Sometimes we choose our careers- sometimes they choose us.

My chosen career was a wedding of these influences: my stepfather’s respect for the law, my mom’s love of writing, and my sisters’ refusal to admit I was right until I argued my side effectively.

Is there a reason you chose civil litigation as your focus area?

I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong and loved helping people; being a litigator combines both of those things. When I was 10 or 11, I got my first taste of “justice” when I wrote a letter to the creators of the “Get Him System” accusing them of “negligence” after their product did not live up to its promises. For the record, I got a full refund. And the rest is history.

How long have you had your own practice?

About a year and a half.

What has surprised you most about owning your own business?

I have been blown away by how helpful and supportive people have been (yes, even other lawyers!). There is such a camaraderie amongst small business owners that I had no idea existed. I am so grateful to get the chance to experience it.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

I write. I brunch. I shop (too much). I travel. I spend time with friends and family. I volunteer at my church (Northside City Church) and in the community. I spoil my niece and nephews.

What’s next for you?

I want to continue growing my existing practice. I have also begun using my experience to help businesses avoid litigation. While I enjoy being a litigator, I also recognize that litigation isn’t always the best solution. In an ideal world, I would love to meet my clients before something goes wrong and help them build a fortress around their businesses—through their contracts, their insurance, their training, etc.—to protect them from getting sued. I am also working on becoming a certified mediator.

Wow, Lori, this has been great. Thank you for sharing your story! Now, let’s finish up with my standard favorite list. In Charlotte, what’s your favorite?

Restaurant: Portofino’s

Coffee: Starbucks

Sports team: Panthers

TV show: Live PD

Movie: Little Miss Sunshine

Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

App: New York Post

New thing in CLT: The massive growth in Uptown

Old thing in CLT: Carpe Diem

Photos by Cass Bradley of BlueSky Photo Artists

People of CLT publishes stories about everyday Charlotteans and Carolinians. We celebrate YOUR story because YOU matter. It is our mission to promote inclusiveness, unity, understanding, community, diversity, empathy, and compassion.

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