Tell us a little bit about your career.
I started law practice with a small plaintiff’s firm in Memphis in April 1975. I had the best of both worlds - I was able to work on the rainmaker’s cases while building my own practice with referrals from the rural area where I grew up just outside of Memphis. After three years, I opened my own practice, sharing office space with three other solos who had been law school classmates. At age 36, after nine and a half years of practice, I ran for Circuit Court Judge and was elected from a field of six candidates. I spent 33 years as a trial judge and retired from the bench in July 2017. I have transitioned from the bench into a second career as a mediator and arbitrator. I have continued helping litigants resolve their legal disputes and saving them time, money, and the stress involved in trials, appeals, etc.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I have had several highlights in my career. The first highlight was passing the bar exam. I am still amazed that a country boy from Capleville, Tennessee, was able to make it through undergraduate school, law school, and pass the bar. Another highlight was getting elected judge and spending 33 years doing something I loved and feeling that I was making a difference in the legal profession and our system of justice. Another highlight involved leading a fight to get rid of the partisan election of judges in our county. Our county had never had a partisan election of judges until the early 1990s when one of the political parties decided to conduct partisan primaries for all local offices, including judges. I felt strongly that forcing judges to choose a partisan label was bad for the justice system and led the fight to pass legislation doing away with partisan judicial elections in our judicial district. After a long, hard fight that took several years, including an unsuccessful Federal Court lawsuit by the opposition, we were successful in keeping judicial elections non-partisan in our county. The final highlight was shepherding through the ABA House of Delegates for CoLAP a Model Rule on Conditional Admission to Practice Law.
If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, would you have done anything any differently?
I have had a richly rewarding legal career and reached what I consider to be the pinnacle of my legal career with the privilege of serving as a jurist for 33 years. Looking back the only thing I would have done differently is to spend a little more time with my legal studies than I did while in law school.