Brandon Hamilton started his first small business at the age of 17 in order to earn money for flying lessons.
Looking back on his business background Saturday morning after a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of Hamilton Law Group, Hamilton said he believes he has a real-world understanding of what his clients need from a modern day “Main Street lawyer.”
“I always had a passion for the law and how things can turn on minor details and the interaction of it, but I didn’t always want to be a lawyer,” Hamilton said as the aroma of freshly baked doughnuts and cookies from another local business, The Drive-In, filled the renovated office space at 178 Scott Street.
Born & Raised in Olive Hill
Hamilton, a member of the West Carter High School Class of 1999 who served as class president for four years, is proud of his Olive Hill roots. He was among Kentucky’s youngest elected officials when he was voted in as a city council member in 2002, including service during and after the 2003 flooding in Olive Hill – and was a volunteer firefighter when two different floods hit with devastating results in 2010.
The education he received from serving as an Olive Hill city council member at a young age, and during times including crisis, was invaluable, Hamilton said. With a chuckle, he said those lessons learned included realizing “You are going to make half the people mad and half the people happy.”
“And I realized you are voting not for yourself but for the people you represent – even if you don’t personally agree. Don’t let emotion overcome being rational,” he said, adding he appreciated the way city council members could sometimes have bitter disagreements during meeting but walk away as friends and neighbors after being adjourned.
Hamilton’s accomplishments as a young entrepreneur began early with an in-house printing company, later followed by a chain of tanning businesses including Global Tanning in Grayson, and then Kentucky Tanning, which grew to be the largest tanning bed re-sale business “this side of the Mississippi,” Hamilton said.
Government regulations on the tanning industry began in 2008 with the Affordable Care Act, he said, and included an excise tax. “The growth just stopped,” he recalled.
The experience with governmental regulation was among the reasons Hamilton enrolled as a student at the University of Kentucky College of Law.
“Among the factors to pursue law school was the desire to help businesses balance profitability and compliance, with legal oversight. I’m an attorney with more years in business than in law. I think that helps me see both sides of the issue,” he said.
Business law, however, is not Hamilton Law Group’s specialty. In fact, as a “Main Street lawyer,” Hamilton said his office is ready to help handle practically any legal concerns a client might have.
“We don’t just do business law – we do it all,” he said.
Committed to Olive Hill
The decision to open an office in downtown Olive Hill is a reflection of his love for the city, Hamilton said.
“Olive Hill has always had a soft spot in my heart. You can’t just talk about problems, you’ve got to be part of the solution,” he said, noting he also hopes to again join the Olive Hill Volunteer Fire Department now that he is back in town three days a week.
“We have to rebuild one at a time … to show we believe in Olive Hill. There’s a lot of people investing in Olive Hill,” Hamilton said with undeniable hometown pride before adding, “If you are going to be an Olive Hill lawyer, you’ve got to be in Olive Hill.”
Family & Fun
Aviation continues to be a passion for Hamilton, who enjoys taking his wife and children on scenic flights to destinations where they can share experiences. He recalled buying his first airplane, a Piper Lance, for work while he was in the tanning bed business, explaining he had to cover a large region and found it to be a justifiable business expense. He now has more than 2,000 flight time logged, and especially enjoys flights to the Florida Keys with his son in the co-pilot seat.
Hamilton’s wife, Emilee, is a 2013 WCHS grad who works as his office manager and paralegal. The family lives in Morehead, where he works in his other law office two days per week, and they have three sons – Greyson, 12; Kingston, 5; and Graham, who is now a year old.
They have a four year old cocker spaniel named ‘Blu’ – “We bought her used so she came with that name,” Hamilton joked.
Story and Photos by TIM PRESTON & Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce
Carter County Post