TBA Law Blog

Posted by: William Haltom on Oct 1, 2016

Journal Issue Date: Oct 2016

Journal Name: October 2016 - Vol. 52, No. 10

I have now practiced law for 38 years. I’ve been counsel in more than 100 jury trials, ranging from who-had-the-green-light, to libel cases, to construction battles over sinking buildings, and even an antitrust case. (I’m one of the few lawyers in America who has actually tried an antitrust case. This is an offense that could actually have me kicked out of the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association.)

I am now a senior counsel who really only brings one thing to a courtroom: gray hair. A lot of it. This is what is known in the legal business as “gravitas.” It’s a very fancy word that just means you have a lot of gray hair and you went to law school with the judge.

But as I approach the sunset of my long and undistinguished legal career, I’m frankly looking for something new to do in my practice.

I’m not quite ready to retire, but I also no longer wish to answer interrogatories. For some reason the thrill of preparing discovery responses is gone.

I have also developed an alarming tendency to fall asleep during depositions. That’s okay when you’re de- fending a deposition since the only thing a lawyer really does in that situation is occasionally mumble, “Object to form.” But I’m afraid that during one of these depositions, I may actually start snoring, and the court reporter will type “z-z-z-z” into the transcript.

But I believe I have found a new role for myself in my law practice. I would like to become an official law firm greeter. I’m willing each morning to stand in the lobby of my firm’s office wearing my best seersucker suit and greet all the lawyers and clients as they enter in search of justice.

And in an incredible innovative marketing move, I’m also willing to be a greeter at satellite offices at Walmarts across the state.

I got this wonderful marketing idea when I recently read an article about an Atlanta law firm that is now opening offices at two Walmarts in Peachtree-ville.

This marketing move is reminiscent of that of one of my all-time favorite lawyers, Lionel Hutz. Literate readers of the Tennessee Bar Journal will remember Lionel as Homer Simpson’s lawyer. Lionel’s office was located in a shopping mall, and his firm was named “I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm!”

Hutz also offered “expert shoe repair” and once had a marketing campaign in which he announced, “I’ll win your lawsuit in 30 minutes or your pizza is free!”

Well, in this competitive era, all of us lawyers are looking for a marketing edge, with Lionel Hutz’ “I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm” operating out of a shopping mall, and Atlanta lawyers headed for Walmart.

You may be skeptical that the white shoe, silk stocking, seersucker firm where I practice will join Lionel and the Walmart lawyer crowd, but nothing is really surprising in this era of TV commercials featuring lawyers and their dogs.

I admit it’s more likely that my firm will establish a satellite office in a Bed, Bath & Beyond or (my preference) a Starbucks, but wherever we head, I am more than willing to be the firm’s greeter.

I’ll be happy to don a seersucker vest with the firm logo prominently displayed. I will greet all potential clients with a warm smile and cheerfully exclaim, “I’m Bill, and I’m going to be your lawyer today. My desk is on Aisle 5, by the produce section. Let me tell you about our specials!”

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a shareholder with the firm of Lewis Thomason. He is a past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and a past president of the Memphis Bar Association. Read his blog at www.billhaltom.com.