Eric Barnum, ‘94, always knew he wanted to make a difference in the world. He just wasn’t sure how to go about it. As he envisioned the future, there were three directions he could take: medicine, the ministry, or the law. He didn’t have the scientific inclination for medicine or the temperament for the ministry, but he saw law as an incredibly powerful tool that could be used to correct some of the injustices in the world.
McGeorge School of Law provided Barnum with the gateway through which he could achieve that dream. He chose McGeorge because of the excellent curriculum, the high bar passage rate and because he would receive the high caliber legal training needed to be a difference-maker. While there, he worked at the law school’s Community Legal Services Clinic representing the indigent, was president of the Black Law Students Association, helped with voter registration drives and sat on the board of the National Black Law Students Association as Western Region Director.
After graduation, Barnum was the founding president of the McGeorge Black Alumni Association and the first Chair of the McGeorge Alumni Diversity Board. He served on the Board of Directors of the McGeorge Alumni Association from 2005 to 2012 and the Dean’s Council from 2019 to the present day. In 2021 the Eric and Daisy Barnum Scholarship Fund was founded to provide financial assistance to McGeorge students from historically underrepresented communities.
As a management-side labor and employment attorney, Barnum spends his days making sure that everyone who is employed by one of his clients enjoys a workplace that is fair, equitable, and free of harassment and all forms of discrimination. For his practice, Barnum has garnered a plethora of recognitions, including Chambers USA, The Legal 500 United States, The Best Lawyers in America®, Lawdragon 500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyers®, Minority Corporate Counsel Association Outstanding Outside Counsel, and Georgia “Super Lawyer.”
Beyond the office, as a person of faith, Barnum continues to give back to our communities, whether it be through his service on the Board of Stewards at Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Marietta, GA; the Board of Directors of Communities in Schools of Atlanta; the Corporate Board of Directors of the Boys and Girl Club of Metro Atlanta; as a Southeast Regional Board Member of the Anti-Defamation League; a member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta or a member of his beloved Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. “Leveling the playing field for kids and communities who don’t have the opportunities that I had has always been very important to me.” he says. “There are people who have it really rough. I must do something with my law degree. It’s how I was raised.”
Barnum understands that without the solid foundation of support from his wife Daisy and son Emanuel, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to do all that he does, and for that he is eternally grateful.
As a law student, Barnum imagined himself as the next great civil rights lawyer or Thurgood Marshall debating cases before the Supreme Court. One might argue that he has had an even greater impact on his community, one matter at a time.
Throughout 2024, the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law will celebrate members of its vast alumni network in honor of the school’s 100-year anniversary. This post is the first in a series highlighting 100 exceptional McGeorge School of Law alumni.
Stay tuned for more blog posts as we celebrate the law school’s centennial anniversary.