All College

Jamie HansonJamie Hanson (’02) recently lent his name to his law firm, Lang Thal King & Hanson, the latest step in an unlikely journey that has wound its way through high school teaching and the halls of state — though it began at Thomas Aquinas College.

Mr. Hanson heard about the College not from family or friends, but from the college counselor at his high school in Phoenix, Arizona. “She knew that I liked to read and enjoyed thinking,” he recalls. “She said, ‘I heard about this Great Books school — you should consider it.’” Intrigued, Mr. Hanson attended the High School Summer Program in 1997. He enjoyed the immersion in the College’s curriculum, but, no longer practicing his faith, he found the ubiquitous Catholicism of his fellow attendees a bit too intense for comfort. 

By the end of his senior year, however, after reading C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton rekindled his belief, intensity was just what he hoped to find. “I wanted to read books, and I wanted to get the Faith in a genuine form,” he says. He found both at the College, and more. “If you go toe to toe with those great books, with Cicero, Aquinas, Newton, and the smart men and women who are there to guide you, then there’s very little in human life that you’re not equipped to deal with.”

After graduating in 2002, Mr. Hanson found short-lived work as a winemaker in Oregon before joining the faculty of Veritas Preparatory Academy, now a part of the Great Hearts network. “My boss hired me because he knew that TAC alumni tended to take the intellectual life seriously, which is what he wanted for his school,” he says. The opportunity was a pleasant surprise. “Teaching caught me and sustained me,” says Mr. Hanson. “I loved it.” 

Mr. Hanson spent the next six years at Veritas, during which time he wed his wife, Alishia. The couple soon realized, though, that raising children on a teacher’s salary was a tall order. Fortunately, a number of his students’ parents were associated with Alliance Defending Freedom, which caught Mr. Hanson’s attention. “They were good public policy attorneys who gave me a sense that you could do something noble as a lawyer,” he says. “I liked to read and argue, so I decided I’d go to law school.’”

Mr. Hanson completed his J.D. at Arizona State University College of Law in 2011, and, through connections established at Veritas, clerked for the Hon. Peter B. Swann of the Arizona Court of Appeals until 2012. He then joined his current firm, at that time named Lang & Klain, where he worked in contract law. In 2015, his career took an upswing. “When Gov. Doug Ducey was elected, he changed leadership at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, and the new ROC Director named me its chief counsel,” he says. 

The Registrar of Contractors supervises the licensing and regulation of contractors, but legal disputes frequently arise involving either “contractors with problems, or people with problematic contractors.” Although his tenure at the Registrar was brief, it was a momentous step for the teacher-turned-lawyer. “I was this young, pipsqueak attorney who was suddenly running the legal department for a state agency,” he laughs. “We were making decisions important to construction and contractors in Arizona, and I suddenly had real responsibility.”

Mr. Hanson found himself especially indebted to his alma mater during his time at the Registrar. “I had to read the Registrar’s statutes, make decisions, and think outside the box to get this state agency to run in a way that made some sense,” he says. “The seminar method gave me the intellectual capacity and the spine to say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do and why.’”

In 2017, Mr. Hanson brought his deepened experience back to Lang & Klain. He brought such value with him that, last year, his contributions led to a name change (Lang Thal King & Hanson) making him, in his words, “the man behind the ampersand.” Mr. Hanson credits his enduring value in large part to his time at the College. “It wasn’t easy,” he says, “but TAC gave me great confidence. There’s now a well of insight and wisdom that I can draw on.”