SPARK: Where Do You Find Inspiration?

This month we introduce a new feature, back here on the last page. After 25 years of reading Bill Haltom’s column on this page every month, there will be a big space to fill — we know you will need something fun to raise your spirits, to inspire you in your work. So we offer you “SPARK,” a rollicking page of random, light-hearted, law-related ideas and thoughts, with perhaps a spark of inspiration.

To kick it off, we asked our long-time columnist a few burning questions before we let him go:

TENNESSEE BAR JOURNAL: Where do you find inspiration for your writing? How does the magic happen?

BILL HALTOM: People share stories with me, and I ask them if I can share their stories in my columns and books. It’s that simple.

We lawyers live in a world of words: the spoken word in court or in negotiations with other lawyers, and the written word in pleadings and briefs and correspondence. We lawyers are natural writers, and I tell lawyers who would like to write to follow the advice of the old Nike ads. Just do it. Think of an experience that has inspired or challenged or amused you, and write about it. Preserve it for yourself, your family, your friends and even folks you don’t know. Everyone has their own unique story. Share it.

Bill HaltomTBJ: How or why did you come up with the idea for this column?

BH:  The credit or blame for my column goes to United States District Judge Pamela Reeves. Back in the ’80s, she became the editor of the Tennessee Young Lawyers newsletter. She called me one day and said she remembered the humor columns I wrote for the UT Daily Beacon when we were undergrads at UT. She asked if I would like to write a similar column for the YLD newsletter on the lighter side of law practice. I did, and after Pam and I both “aged out” of the YLD, my column moved to the Journal.

TBJ: What’s your favorite column?

BH: My column I most enjoyed writing  was “The Lawyer’s Typewriter” (December 2012, TBJ). It was about the typewriter my father gave me for Christmas when I was in high school. I used that typewriter to write term papers in high school and college, case briefs in law school, and yes, my first columns for my high school newspaper (the Frayser High Ram Page), the UT Daily Beacon, and ultimately the Tennessee Bar Journal. The column brought back great memories of my wonderful father, and my life-long love for writing.

TBJ: When you passed the bar, you were a lawyer. When did you first realize that you are also a writer?

BH: Since I was a boy I always dreamed of being both a lawyer and a writer, and I have been able to be both! My life as a full-time trial lawyer and part-time writer has really been about the same calling. I love to tell stories. I have shared stories about my clients before judges and juries, and shared other stories in my columns and books.

TBJ: What are you going to do in retirement?

BH: I plan to travel with Claudia, spend time with my kids (and someday, perhaps grandkids) and keep writing on my blog, in any newspaper that will print my stuff, and in more books. In other words, I plan to keep telling stories …

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