Jim Beasley Jr. is in the cramped cockpit of a World War II fighter plane, a P-51 Mustang, soaring 3,000 feet above the countryside — but he’s still very much a lawyer. Calm, articulate, commanding, his demeanor is the same as it is in court. The only difference is the view.
For Beasley, both flying and litigation are a family affair. Beasley’s father, Jim Beasley Sr., passed away in 2004, leaving the leadership of the 50-person Beasley Law Office to his son. It was Beasley’s father who taught him to fly.
When he was 9, the two of them were traveling and stopped at a rickety barn in West Texas to look at the P-51, which the younger Beasley convinced his father to buy. A thousand barrel rolls later, Beasley is Chuck Yeager’s friend and attorney, and he flies with the Air Force Heritage Flight. He’s just one of 12 civilian pilots allowed to fly with the military.
Beasley’s North American SNJ training airplane sits in a hangar at the Chester County Airport. Just 100 yards away, Beasley recently built a larger hangar, which houses his three other airplanes (three warplanes and one business plane in all). Flying represents neither easy transportation to a deposition in Florida nor a carefree exploration of the open skies. To Beasley, it’s about challenging himself to reach new heights. “Flying is really a metaphor for how we run the office,” he says.
With flying so much a part of his family background and childhood, why didn’t he join the Air Force? “Bad eyes,” he says with a smile from behind his glasses. A career as a lawyer wasn’t initially even his second choice. An avid student of science, Beasley attended medical school, but realized after graduation that he wasn’t cut out for it. “I enjoy the scientific theory, but I’m not a lab rat,” he says. So he again flew in his father’s skies, this time following him into the law. Today, Beasley is regarded as one of the area’s top litigators. He represents a wide range of clients, from plaintiffs alleging medical negligence to a “scubadiving dentist” in California who alleged that Disney used his idea for Finding Nemo.
Will there be a third generation of lawyer-pilots in the Beasley family? Beasley smiles at the idea and pulls out a photograph. “This is my 7-year-old son, Jimmy, in the back of the Mustang,” he says. “I put him in the back, where he just wants to play video games.”
Even money says 20 years from now Jimmy will be flying to his own court appearances.