A Memphis Lawyer Is Named One of Nashville’s Best! - Articles

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Posted by: William Haltom on Feb 1, 2013

Journal Issue Date: Feb 2013

Journal Name: February 2013 - Vol. 49, No. 2

From Graceland to the Grand Ole Opry

In my long and undistinguished legal career, I have somehow managed to win a few honors. Several years ago, I was elected a “fellow” of something called “The American College of Trial Lawyers.” I was very excited about this, until I found out that the

American College of Trial Lawyers is not really a college, after all. It does not have a football team. (What kind of college does not have a football team?) If it did have a football team, it would probably beat my beloved Tennessee Volunteers, although it couldn’t beat the Vanderbilt Commodores.

I have also been told several times over the years, that I have been named a “Super Lawyer.” I have been told this by the Super Lawyer’s Company, which each year writes me a congratulatory letter and offers to send me a “Super Lawyer plaque,” if I will just send them $200.

They have even offered to put my picture in Super Lawyer Magazine. I have seriously thought about agreeing to this, but there are two problems. First, I just can’t bring myself to have my photograph taken while wearing red leotards, a cape, and a blue jersey with a red “S” on my chest. (I also refuse to change into this outfit in a phone booth.) The second problem is the Super Lawyer’s Company wants either me or my firm to pay them to put my picture in Super Lawyer Magazine.

The folks at the Super Lawyer’s company tell me it will be great publicity for me to be on display in Super Lawyer Magazine.

They are probably right. I’m sure there are all sorts of clients out there that are just waiting to hire a 60-year-old lawyer who is ready to go to court wearing red leotards, a red cape, and a blue jersey with a big red “S” on it. I can even envision the headline for the article: “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…No, It’s Bill Haltom!”

But I’m just too cheap to buy such publicity.

Besides, what I’m really hoping is that I will be selected for the upcoming Tennessee Bar Journal Swimsuit Edition.

But recently, I found myself on the pages of Nashville Lifestyles, a magazine published in the Volunteer State’s capitol city that apparently has even a bigger circulation than Super Lawyer Magazine, at least in Davidson County.

No, I was not on the cover of Nashville Lifestyles Magazine wearing leotards, a red cape, and a blue jersey with a red “S” on my chest. But I was listed inside the magazine as … the envelope please! …one of Nashville’s 50 top attorneys!

This is no doubt the biggest honor of my legal career, and I didn’t even have to pay Nashville Lifestyles magazine for it.

It would be an honor for any lawyer to be named one of the top 50 lawyers in Nashville. After all, as all Nashvillians will modestly tell you, in recent years, Nashville has become the world’s greatest city, surpassing New York City, London, Rome and Paris (France, not Tennessee) for culture, cuisine and even college football. (See the Vanderbilt Commodores supra.)

But what makes the honor particularly distinctive for me is this: In my 34 years as a Tennessee lawyer, I have never practiced in Nashville.

You read that right, Conway Twitty-breath! Like Elvis, I’m a life-long Memphis boy. I have never walked inside the Davidson County courthouse as either a lawyer or a defendant. I’m not admitted as a lawyer in any courts in Nashville with exception of the Tennessee Supreme Court, which actually is a court, but I don’t think of it as a Nashville one.

I did not actually see my listing in Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. However, I know it happened, because I was told about it by a company called “Showmark.” They recently wrote me a letter (in fact, they have written me several letters) and sent me several emails congratulating me on being named one of Nashville’s top 50 lawyers by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine! And they have even offered me a commemorative plaque at the very reasonable price of $159!

They even sent me a picture of the plaque. (Apparently they’ve already made it!) And here’s what my plaque says:

William H. Haltom
Top 50 Attorneys in Nashville
Selected by Peer Recognition
Nashville Lifestyles — December 2012

Wow! Peer recognition! This means that lawyers in Nashville selected me as one of their top 50! To borrow a line from Sally Field, “You like me, Nashville! You really like me!”
I do wonder where Nashville lawyers got the idea that I practice law in Nashville. Maybe they saw a guy who looks a lot like me hanging around the Davidson County Courthouse wearing leotards, a red cape, and a blue jersey with a big red “S” on it.

I am confident that if I had ever practiced in Nashville and Nashville lawyers saw me doing it, they would not have elected me one of their best.

While being named one of Nashville’s 50 top lawyers is no doubt the highest honor this Memphis boy will ever receive, I did receive another particular honor just the other day.

So help me, Showmark, the same plaque company that gave me the news that I was named one of Nashville’s 50 best lawyers, has recently sent me several emails telling me that I was also recently selected … drum roll, please! … one of the 50 top attorneys in the State of Arkansas!

But I’m a little concerned about this most recent honor. You see, I am not now nor have I ever been licensed to practice law in the State of Arkansas, even though my Razorback peers have apparently selected me as one of their finest.

If I accept this honor or appear on the cover of Arkansas Razorback Super Lawyers Magazine, can I be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law in Arkansas?

I think I better pull a Marlon Brando and turn down the Arkansas honor. I’ll just stick to practicing law in Memphis … and not practicing in Nashville where I am one of the very best.

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association. He has never practiced in Nashville or Arkansas, nor is he a finalist for the Tennessee Bar Journal’s Swimsuit Edition.