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Employee Spotlight: Archie Creech

October 26, 2020

His law office was totally destroyed. He could not get to it for weeks after Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 Atlantic hurricane broke the levee in New Orleans. “When I went to work that Friday, it was a Category 3 out in the Atlantic. It had to cross over Florida,” Archie recalled that fateful day in August 2005. Hurricanes typically lose strength over land. While in the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina strengthened to a Category 4 and was at 5 as it approached the northern Gulf Coast.

Because Archie and his wife, Jessie, had survived many hurricanes in the past, they had developed their own strategy for evacuations. They left late. They had done it before and encountered little to no traffic. But, it ain’t easy leaving the Big Easy. It took them 19 hours to get to Birmingham. Along the route, they called friends to seek lodging. A friend said his in-laws in Birmingham, would help them find a place. So, they loaded their band of Noah’s Ark… two parents, two children, two dogs and two cats, and headed to B’ham.

What struck them most about the area was the beauty. They would marvel at the scenery as they walked their pets. What sealed the deal and made them want to stay was the friendliness of the people. “We took the kids to school and were greeted with ‘Are you the refugees from New Orleans?’ I said, yes we are,” Archie fondly remembers. The school helped with furniture and other necessities. “They were a life saver.”

Six weeks after Katrina, Archie returned to New Orleans to assess the damage. Their home was situated three feet above ground, and the home had been filled with six feet of standing water. “The first thing I noticed was the utter silence,” Archie said. “There were no sounds of birds chirping, dogs barking or cars driving by.” Due to the swelling in the home from the water, Archie had to chop a hole in the front door to enter. “I walked in and immediately walked out. The sight and smell… Everything was turned over.” He was in solo practice in NOLA. His office was ten minutes from his home. His house was two blocks from a levee that broke. When he was finally able to get to his office days later, there was litte to salvage.

The verdict was in that Birmingham was going to be their new home. After passing the Alabama bar exam, Archie set up shop again as a solo practitioner. Initially, he worked at Legal Aid as a contract attorney, filling in for attorneys in the Municipal Court Division. After attending a Legal Aid Christmas Party with his wife, she told him, “You have found your people.” When a position became available at Legal Aid in the Jefferson County Family Court Division, Archie began his career as a full-time guardian ad litem in abuse and neglect (dependency) cases. “A huge portion of the cases involve parents being on drugs,” he said. “Drugs are a beast and hard to overcome.” Legal Aid represents only children in the Jefferson County Family Courts in Birmingham and Bessemer. The clients range in age from birth to 21. Archie said, “When I wake up and go to work, I know that all day long I’ll be representing the good guys.” However, to Archie, the teenagers are the most challenging, not just because of their attitudes. But, because of a lack in resources for that demographic. He said put a lack of resources on top of their life circumstances and you have a recipe for failure. He said there is rarely a perfect situation. He has to advocate for what is in the best interest of his clients.

To decompress from the stress and demands from the weightiness of the job, Archie enjoys sports and gardening. He said he had to decide at the Alabama state line, whether he was for Alabama or Auburn and what church he would attend. No spoiler here. These are great conversation starters for when you meet Archie.