Gene Price (’88) balances roles as litigator, Navy Rear Admiral

Gene Price, a 1988 Brandeis School of Law graduate is a member of Frost Brown Todd LLC and practices in the litigation department. He is also a Rear Admiral and Deputy Commander in the United States Navy.

Price draws on his experience in the U.S. Navy Reserve to augment his work in the Admiralty and Maritime law arena. He also handles employee benefit litigation, primarily ERISA matters for health and welfare benefits plans. These include claims relating to denial of benefits for medical treatment and disability benefits.

Price received his commission as a Navy Reserve Intelligence officer in 1986. As a junior officer, he served in a variety of assignments, including as an analyst during the War in Kosovo, a member of USEUCOM's Crisis Action Team, and as political advisor for NATO's Ambassador to Macedonia. He supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as chief of Iraqi Maritime Analysis, led an analytical team located in southern Iraq, and concluded his mobilization as NAVCENT's chief of intelligence operations.

Price commanded NR Naval Forces Central Command 0267, and then commanded USPACOM's Joint Detachment Minneapolis. He was then selected for major command at Navy Intelligence Reserve Region Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was responsible for reserve intelligence requirements across the Southeast and Europe.

Price was again mobilized in 2011 to Afghanistan, where he served as senior U.S. Intelligence Officer at Region North in Mazar-e Sharif. He also led its Multinational Fusion Center in conjunction with U.S. Coalition partners. After redeployment, he was assigned as deputy senior inspector, Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command, Fort Worth, Texas. Price assumed his present duties as Deputy Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. Tenth Fleet, in 2014.

Price’s accomplishments have earned him a Brandeis School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award, which will formally be presented to him at a ceremony on Oct. 23.

Rear Admiral Price took time out of his busy schedule to share his career path and what compelled him to study law, as well as to offer advice for current students.

Q: When did you join the Navy and what compelled you to do so? When were you named Rear Admiral?

Price: I joined the U.S. Air Force as a pilot trainee after earning my bachelors at UofL, but washed out with a burst eardrum.  The Navy also made me an offer to fly when I returned, but before I could accept, I was accepted at Brandeis (I had applied just in case I didn't get to fly).

I then decided I wanted to practice law, but then the Navy offered me a chance to become a reserve intelligence officer, which I accepted and which helped pay my way through school.  I was nominated by the President (for Rear Admiral) on July 2014, confirmed by the Senate in August, and promoted on October 10 (2014).

Q: What compelled you to study law and to do so at Brandeis?

Price: I was working in sales and although doing well, I was dissatisfied. I had wanted to be a lawyer ever since seeing Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (like so many other lawyers my age and older), and the thought of the Court being "the great leveler" still had a clear appeal. So I took the LSAT on a whim, did better than expected, and was accepted at several law schools.

But Louisville was my home and UofL is my school. I also needed to work my way through school (had one child when I started, two when I finished), so I had to go to the old night law school.  I was thinking of going elsewhere until I learned that the faculty at night was the same as the one during the day, so I knew I would still get good training. And I did.

Q: How does your work with the military intersect with your work as an attorney?

Price: The two intersect powerfully if you are a litigator. Intelligence depends on discovering what your adversary thinks, has done, and how they do or did something. And then as you get closer to a confrontation, forecasting accurately what your adversary will do is critical. Litigation depends on the very similar skills and abilities, even though the tools used to accomplish those purposes are vastly different.

Q: Can you provide an example of your work in maritime law?

Price: My maritime expertise arose when a client found out I was a Navy officer, and asked me to take on a Jones Act claim. I started there, and then did collision and demurrage claims. I'm licensed in both Kentucky and Indiana, but my reported maritime cases are all out of Indiana. My biggest maritime case resulted in the Indiana Supreme Court striking down the application of the Jones Act to riverboat casinos. The client was very happy, but most of my Jones Act work dried up almost overnight. I was pleased, but poor.

Q: Why did you add other areas, such as employment and health law, to your portfolio?

Price: A former boss of mine, Darryl Durham (one of the best lawyers I know), told me years ago that your clients determine what kinds of cases you practice, and he was right. My former firm (I've been with Frost Brown Todd for over 20 years) did health care work, and so then did I. When I moved to FBT, they came with me. I enjoy doing ERISA-related work, and really enjoy working with my clients, many of whom I have known for 15 to 20 years.

Q: How do you balance two large obligations as a lawyer with FBT and a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy?

Price: The two have no relationship at all, other than the skill sets used to ferret out what's happening. I could not balance the two without some super supportive people at Frost Brown Todd, from the Firm Chairman and Managing Member, to the lawyers who fill in for me, to the support staff who sent me Care Packages when I had to go Afghanistan and Iraq. Even now as I have been returned to active duty as the Deputy Commander of the US Tenth Fleet, Frost Brown Todd is supporting what I do. I would not have done anything for the country in my capacity with the Navy without them.  You probably already know this, but the Navy is much less forgiving of any competitor for my time!

Q: Can you provide a piece of advice for current Brandeis law students?

Price: Nothing sets one up for success better than hard work. Doing well – in school or in litigation – means working hard. Yet litigation is not war, and your adversary is not your enemy. Treat your adversary with respect and speak the truth, because people will notice.  And remember.

Q: With all of your accomplishments, what goals are you aiming for next?

Price: I’m too tired to think about this one …