Kellen Mathews, 36
Partner in Charge, Adams and Reese LLP
- Handling my first jury trial, which became my first jury trial victory.
- Making partner at Adams and Reese LLP.
- Being named partner in charge of the firm’s Baton Rouge office.
Serves as an associate board member for City Year and is on City Year’s Gala Host Committee; is also a board member and executive committee member for Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
NAME ONE BOOK THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU PROFESSIONALLY
The Story of My Life—Clarence Darrow
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
Lawyering was always up there on my list, but professional football player or archaeologist were my top two in childhood. I didn’t grow enough or get quite fast enough for the first one to work out, and once I learned that Indiana Jones was not a typical archaeologist’s story, I circled back to lawyer.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
This is not a strange job, per se, but a bit strange for a 19 year old on summer break from college. I worked as a correctional officer in the Calcasieu Correctional Center in Lake Charles. Going into it, I thought they would have me with the low-level offenders and/or trustees, but by my second week, I was working in the highest security pod at the facility. Needless to say, I have a few great stories from my time there.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH IN BATON ROUGE, AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DISH THERE?
Cocha. I try to switch it up but am partial to the criollo.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST FULFILLING MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
The times when a client expresses genuine joy and appreciation for the work that I’ve done for them. In the civil defense world this is a somewhat rare sight since by and large our clients are large companies that are used to navigating the legal process and take good news and bad news in a pretty even-keeled manner. So, whenever a client sends a genuine thank you note at the conclusion of a matter it is extra fulfilling.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY?
Not everyone has the same work style as me and that’s OK. I have a tendency to become laser focused on whatever I am doing, and in the past I’ve expected this same level of attention from my team and been disappointed when they didn’t display the same focus.
ARE YOU ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA? IF SO, ON WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE?
I’m on most of it, but I’m not all that active. For me to “like” something on social media, I have to literally say out loud “I like this” before clicking the appropriate button—happens maybe five times a year or so.
HOW LOW WILL YOU ALLOW YOUR REMAINING PHONE OR COMPUTER BATTERY LIFE GET (IN %) BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ANXIETY ATTACK?
HOW MANY UNREAD MESSAGES ARE IN YOUR INBOX RIGHT NOW?
Gmail, 117,240; Outlook, 7,600
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE APP AT THE MOMENT?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE PAST DECADE?
WHAT TECHNOLOGY DO YOU WISH WAS NEVER INVENTED?
WHAT TIME DO YOU GET UP ON WORKDAY MORNINGS?
We have a new baby so pretty much whenever he gets up. Anywhere from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.
BREAKFAST AT HOME? BREAKFAST ON THE GO? BREAKFAST AT YOUR DESK? NO BREAKFAST AT ALL?
Most weekdays no breakfast at all.
THE SAYING GOES: “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” SPECIFICALLY, WHAT ARE YOU “BEING” TO MAKE BATON ROUGE BETTER?
I am attempting to be the change by supporting local restaurants and the maker community in Baton Rouge wherever possible.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WERE “GROWN UP?”
July 21, 2018. That’s when the good folks at Woman’s sent my wife, Mikki, and I on our way with a two-day-old baby boy. It was way more informal than I expected. No manual or guidebook. They just kind of released us into the wild with the responsibility of a new life.
WHAT WAS THE BEST VACATION YOU HAVE EVER TAKEN?
A quick trip to Peru in 2017. We did Machu Picchu, which was amazing, but even cooler than that was a hike up Vinicunca, a.k.a. the Mountain of Seven Colors, which I’ve seen described as resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. The mountain gets its different colors from the sediment and atmosphere of the area. The hike was more intense than we anticipated. The altitude was almost 17,000 feet above sea level and it snowed and sleeted as we neared the top, but the views were awe inspiring. Pro tip—don’t go in the rainy season. Instead of seven colors, we only saw four because it was gray and snowy.
FAVORITE GIFT YOU WERE GIVEN AS A CHILD?
The Saints uniform that my mom pieced together circa 1987. In Lake Charles in the ’80s, stores carried Dallas kits in a box but no Saints. My mom went on a mission that included a letter to then head coach Jim Mora. The end result was a Saints uniform that was way better than the little box kits.
WHICH TALENT OR SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE AND WHY?
Time travel. Dinosaurs.
WHAT ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT?
Every time I fly, I have to touch the plane, usually the top of the doorway, as I board and again when I exit the plane. A flight attendant called me out on it on a recent flight to Tampa. Apparently they see this a fair amount.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE?
Manning, a schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix).
I love to travel, cook, run, work out and play golf poorly.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR FUTURE FORTY UNDER 40 HONOREES?
Live outside your comfort zone. I’ve found that at each major stage of my professional life I’ve had to step outside of what I considered to be in my wheelhouse at the time. By and large it’s worked out, and even when it doesn’t, being willing to step up and help out in areas that may not be what you consider areas of expertise has led to other opportunities that I would have missed by just sitting on the sideline. Of course, this has to be tempered with a healthy dose of self-awareness and willingness to put in the work to attain proficiency in the new area.
IF NAMED KING FOR A DAY, WHAT IS ONE CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE IN BATON ROUGE?
Economic development in North Baton Rouge. Bringing food, entertainment and resources to this area of the city would be a game changer for Baton Rouge. I’m optimistic that this is in the works and hopeful that it’s implemented in a way that is considerate of the residents of the area.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN BATON ROUGE; WHAT WORKS AND WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?
Very good for some and less so for others. The wage gap, while not unique to Baton Rouge, is palpable in this city and contributes to some of the less desirable aspects of the city, e.g. crime.