Legacy Society member, James C. "Beau" Brincefield, Jr., Esq. (C'63, L'66), ruefully remembers the time he had actress Kathleen Turner on trial for murder. "If I had just one decent witness, I could have fried her," he said. "But as fate would have it, each of my witnesses came unraveled on the stand for various and sundry reasons."
The "trial" was part of Serial Mom, a big-screen comedy starring Turner as a murderous suburban housewife and Jim-or rather, Beau James, his stage name drawn from a Bob Hope movie—as a prosecuting attorney.
In addition to his thriving law practice with Brincefield, Hartnett, P.C. in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, Beau is a part-time professional actor who has appeared in numerous stage, movie and television productions since 1990.
Highlights have included playing a politically incorrect detective in TV's Homicide: Life On the Streets; a heart attack victim in an American Heart Association commercial; and a white surgeon whose friendship with a black protégé resulted in the two of them pioneering open heart surgery in PBS's Partners of the Heart.
"Creative work of any kind enriches and impacts on every part of your life," said Beau, 63, a native of Washington, DC. "For me to have gone into acting or music (my greatest love) full-time would have been selfish and self-indulgent. As a lawyer, I have the ability to change things for people who don't have the power to change things for themselves."
Beau was first bitten by the acting bug at Georgetown Prep. He even won an acting scholarship to Catholic University. But a basketball scholarship drew him instead to Georgetown, where he played guard "and was always the shortest guy on the court." He played against such future pros as John Thompson and Tom Hoover, although he remembered the Hoyas at the time as "pitiful."
Off the court, his Georgetown instructors had much better success. "The Jesuits gave me a constellation of stars by which to guide my life … honesty, integrity, courage, and hard work," Beau said. "When you go through life in that little boat on that big ocean, you go through some pretty bad storms. Sometimes those stars get obscured. But sooner or later, you're able to see through the clouds and see the points of reference that tell you where you are and where you want to go."
During one particularly bad "storm" his freshman year, Beau juggled the deaths of his grandparents and his stepfather's heart attack. He was in danger of flunking out. One of his English professors kept giving him more time to finish a paper.
"Had he flunked me, I would have flunked out of school and left, " said a grateful Beau, who "worked like a dog" from that point on. "Had it not been for that man, my whole life would probably have been a whole lot different."
Because several members of his family were involved in residential development, Beau worked in construction and received a real estate brokers' license. He used his real estate connections as a source for legal clients after he graduated from law school and was admitted to the Bars of Virginia and the District of Columbia in 1966. In 1976, he was awarded a dual Master's Degree (in Science in Real Estate and in Business Administration in Finance) from the American University Graduate School of Business.
For the last 25 years, his law firm has provided basic legal services on real estate purchases, personal injury cases, divorces and other matters to "Jane and John Q. Public." The firm, which has grown from two to ten lawyers, prides itself on being client-centered.
"If you ask me to describe the secret of success for a lawyer, I'd say it's really caring about your client and wanting to do good for them," Beau said. "I see our [legal] system as one in which a lawyer participates under a grant of extraordinary privilege…as a person responsible for trying to see that the laws are implemented in a fair and proper way. I haven't changed the world, but I've done the best I could to help my clients get a fair shake."
In a similar fashion, Beau wants to help future generations of Georgetown students get a fair shake. He wants to ensure the highest-quality Jesuit education by including a bequest to Georgetown in his will.
"My grandfather Pappy always said, ‘You can't just keep harvesting all the time—sometimes you gotta sow,'" Beau said. "He meant that you have to put things back into the soil to grow a crop for a future generation. That's all I'm trying to do—put a little something back, in my own way, to make sure there's a good crop for the next generation."
As one of nearly 1,000 members of the Georgetown family who has thoughtfully included a gift to Georgetown in their estate plans, Beau is a valued member of Georgetown's Legacy Society.For more information on gift planning, please call 800-347-8067 or 202-687-3697, e-mail email@example.com, or explore the gift planning Web site.
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