The formation of a charity based Retreat for kids and young adults has been my lifelong dream and aspiration. This is the primary reason I retired from 36 years of practicing law to dedicate the next chapter of my life to this goal. I want to experience first-hand the gleam in the eye, the smile, the excitement, and the happiness that the experience will provide for each child as I strive to interact to develop a personal relationship with each and every child.
Robert Lipman Creates Retreat for at Risk Teens
A lifelong Atlantan, Lipman graduated in 1973 from the University of Virginia with a major in government studies. At age 22, he spent a year as a policeman in Atlanta — an unlikely stop-gap for a young man who’d only attended private schools and had never seen a body. On his second day of the job, he encountered his first homicide case.
“This was a ghetto where I was assigned,” he remembers. Though he expected a hushed solemnity to drape the neighborhood, “it was like an everyday affair there,” he says. “There were kids playing kickball around the body.”
Kids like that — underprivileged, prone to crime, often from broken homes — are much on Lipman’s mind. Two years ago, he bought nearly 450 wooded acres near Ellijay, Ga., featuring two lakes, three mountains and 15 miles of trails. If all goes as planned, starting this summer they’ll be enjoyed by at-risk boys and girls and their parents, who can use the site as a campground/retreat.
“I’m targeting 12- to 14-year-olds, because I think that’s where the most impressionable years are,” he says. “When you have wayward kids who have never left the city and never seen the forest, the wilderness cleans the spirit and the mind.”
At his retreat, a nonprofit public charity with a board of directors, a family member or guardian will be with each child. There is no religious or philosophical doctrine attached to the getaway, called The Reserve at Tri-Mountain.
Though very proud of his firm’s success, “I’m taking steps to broaden my interests and take a few steps away from the practice,” Lipman says. “If I can make a difference in just one or two lives, it will be worthwhile to me.”
Ironically, at one point during his time as a Mercer student, his chosen legal specialty seemed unlikely: “I’ve never humiliated myself more than in moot court,” he recalls. Asked to deliver an argument to two practicing lawyers and a professor, “I was so nervous, I thought, `I’ll never go into a courtroom, ever. It’s not for me!’ But lo and behold, within my first year I was trying cases.”
He adds: “If it wasn’t for Mercer, I wouldn’t have succeeded in finding a niche I truly loved, which is helping people.”
– Taken from Mercer Lawyer, Spring 2012