He was accepted into the University of Chicago Law School on a prestigious Floyd Russell Mecham full scholarship. He served on the law review his last two years and in 1969 wrote "Racial Discrimination in Employment Under the Civil Rights Act of 1866" for the law review. The summer of 1968 he worked in the General Counsel's Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
During law school, in order to avoid interruptions in his legal education, he signed a contract with the Navy to serve four years as a Navy lawyer after law school. He graduated from law school in 1970. The Navy then allowed him another year to serve as a law clerk for Judge Simon E. Sobeloff of the Fourth United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Baltimore, MD, 1970-1971.
While serving in the Navy JAG Corps 1971-1975 at the Navy Annex in Alexandria, Virginia processing legal matters, Jim found on his arrival that there was a large backlog of paperwork and plodding secretarial output. He began typing the secretarial paperwork himself and in short order the secretaries increased their output and worked through the backlog, maintaining work up to date during his tenure.
In 1975 Jim joined the prominent Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter, which was a good fit for Jim because of their progressive leanings and considerable amount of pro bono work. In one pro bono case, American Cetacean Society et al v. Baldridge, Jim was part of the team before the U. S. Supreme Court. In the summer of 1975 his high school sweetheart, Dr. Sheryl P. Gardner, joined him in Washington, D.C. after completion of her obstetrics-gynecology residency, and they ultimately married. In 1980 Jim became a partner in the law firm. In 1983 he began to fulfill another of his childhood passions when he and Sheryl, along with his brother and sister in law, became certified SCUBA divers in Grand Cayman. Thereafter their vacations were to various diving locations in the Caribbean.
In 1986 Jim was eligible for a six-month sabbatical leave from his law firm. He and Sheryl went to Hawaii, where he was certified as a SCUBA instructor and spent his days diving with students and tourists. Three months into the sabbatical, Jim told Sheryl, "I don't want to be a lawyer anymore! Let's move here to Hawaii!" So they did, and Jim gained a certain notoriety and legendary status at the law firm.
Jim taught SCUBA and also did underwater photography for some years. In 1997 he retired as well from diving in favor of his other passion of managing parents' and personal investments. He developed Parkinson's Disease by the early 2000's which was gradually progressive. In recent years his primary interests were in progressive politics and a continued interest in civil rights. Ultimately the ravages of cognitive as well as physical complications of advanced Parkinson's Disease took his life.
Jim is survived by his wife Dr. Sheryl P. Gardner; his brother and sister in law Kenneth S. and Elizabeth M. Beat of Garland, TX; and his nephew Eric M. Beat of Dallas, TX. In accordance with his wishes there will be no services.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased