Bradley Chairman of the Board and Managing Partner Jon Skeeters was featured in the Nashville Business Journal’s “The Boss” series. The series profiles influential leaders in the Nashville business community.
As a University of Kentucky graduate, Jonathan Skeeters is a die-hard basketball fan, but it’s his college soccer career that reminds him of his current role. Skeeters was named chairman and managing partner of Birmingham-based Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, which he leads from the law firm’s Nashville office, in September 2018. Skeeters leads a firm which consists of more than 500 attorneys, located in 10 offices across the U.S. Skeeters still finds time to serve on the board of the Adventure Science Center — where he once pulled off a rescue mission — and to take a once-in-a-lifetime golf trip to Scotland.
NBJ: Growing up in a college town like Lexington, was it always on your mind to attend the University of Kentucky?
Skeeters: It was. I applied to a variety of schools and was trying to decide where to go. I wanted to play soccer in college, so that was kind of my goal. … I did play soccer for Kentucky. My dorm was a mile-and-a-half from my house. It felt like I was in my backyard. But no regrets. I met my wife there, and she’s from … Franklin. That was my draw back to Nashville.
What position did you play on the soccer team?
Mostly outside midfield. A lot of running.
Is there a particular game or moment of your playing career that stands out?
I got a red card against Ohio State. Got a little chippy with another outside midfielder. It was at Ohio State. I kind of just had enough, and I kind of gave him the shove that was right in front of the ref. I think I had to sit out two games after that.
Growing up in Kentucky and going to school in Lexington, are you a die-hard Kentucky basketball fan?
Yeah. One of my friends just sent me the book “Bounce Back,” [by Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari]. He said, “Coach Cal may give you some words of wisdom to help with the job.”
Do you have a favorite Kentucky game that you attended?
This will make me sound old. I went to the Kentucky basketball game when we played [Louisiana State University in 1990], when they had Chris Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal and Stanley Roberts. We beat them. … I remember that game like it was yesterday.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
My mom is the one I credit the most. She always taught me about balance and perspective. She was very big on that, time and place for everything. … Keeping perspective on things. Never get too high or too low. I credit her with that. She has a very even temperament. That was the foundation for me.
You’re on the board at the Adventure Science Center. How did you get involved with that?
The law firm has had a long history of partners serving on the board at the Adventure Science Center. … That’s been super rewarding. Steve Hinkley is the new CEO, and he has great vision and energy. We [recently] opened a new exhibit called “SoundBox,” which is the first time Adventure Science Center has had anything tied to the music industry. It’s such a natural fit for the Adventure Science Center to do something with music.
Do you — or your kids — have a favorite exhibit at the Adventure Science Center?
My boys are a little older now. I’ve got a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old. But the 12-year-old, when he was 3 or 4, we did his birthday party there. … We lost two kids in the climbing tower. I had to go up in that thing and find those kids. That was kind of funny — in hindsight.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to golf and I like to fish. I was talking with some folks about doing a trip in September to Colorado, a fly-fishing trip. I did a big golf trip last year to Scotland. … That was kind of a bucket list trip where you go with a bunch of buddies and play as many rounds of golf as you can in a week. Then come home exhausted.
What’s your favorite part of your job and the part of your job that you do because you have to?
I’ll start with the thing that’s the most challenging: It’s HR issues. I’ve never had to deal with that. … I remember sitting in my first meeting with our administrative staff, that was HR-related, talking about an issue and how do we deal with it. They turned and looked at me and said, “What should we do?” I said, “Are you talking to me?” We were talking [earlier] about soccer; I was always more of the assist guy than the goal-scorer. What I’m doing now is, I’m trying to lead the firm, but I’m trying to make a difference for other people: attorneys, the staff, our clients. I think that’s what I like most about it.
Title: Chairman and managing partner
Company: Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Employees: 214 in Nashville; 924 firmwide
Address: 1600 Division St., Ste. 700, Nashville 37203
Education: University of Kentucky, B.A.; University of Kentucky M.B.A.; University of Kentucky, J.D.
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
The complete article, “The Boss: On the soccer field and in the office, Jonathan Skeeters is the 'assist guy’,” was first published in the Nashville Business Journal on Sept. 20, 2019.