From the beginning, Founding Partner Walt Burton and I believed hiring well-rounded people and giving them the freedom to pursue their passions would help build a great firm. It’s vital for work-life balance.
So far, I like our track record.
Kevin Grimes is an outstanding MLM attorney. Outside of work, he has fostered 24 teenage boys over the last 13 years.
At work, Phillip Young Jr. tackles some of the most complex bankruptcy litigation cases. In his personal time, he takes great pride his community involvement and is known to say, “My life outside of work is busier than my life in the office.”
John Hollins Jr. is a published author who wrote Surviving Divorce: A Lawyer’s Common Sense Guide To What You Should Know Before, During, And After A Divorce.
Those are just several examples of Thompson Burton attorneys making an impact.
I put together a list of the many organizations for which Thompson Burton staff volunteer their time. In addition, many lawyers are active in their individual churches.
As a smaller firm, I’m proud of the overall results. What also strikes me is the diversity of organizations and the variety of passions our team pursues. That makes us all better.
HEALTHCARE & MEDICINE
HOUSING & LAND USE
SPORTS & FITNESS
WOMEN & CHILDREN
I had my first inclination when I was in 8th grade. One of my teachers had to fill some time at the end of the semester and decided to hold a mock trial. She assigned me the role of defense attorney, and I earned an A+ for my work. The teacher pulled me aside afterwards and said I should consider being an attorney.
I dismissed it at the time. I had no lawyers in my family and knew nothing about the practice of law. I became curious about the practice of law during college, so I interned for a judge in my hometown of Montgomery, Ala., one summer. I took it on the chin financially because it was a free internship, but I quickly learned that this was a career path I wanted to pursue.
I gravitated toward litigation during law school and my summer internships, earning a moot court award during my second year at Vanderbilt Law School. My first year at Bass Berry & Sims, I was recruited to work on the bankruptcy for Service Merchandise, the largest bankruptcy ever filed in the Middle District of Tennessee. I had never done anything with bankruptcy before that and had never given any thought to becoming a bankruptcy litigator.
It was supposed to be a limited engagement. I worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for three months straight and earned a good reputation with the bankruptcy group. Three other first-year associates on the same team quit — one left the practice of law altogether.
After three months, they asked me to stay on for another six months and then finally asked me to stay in bankruptcy full time.
That three-month project turned into an eight-year engagement, and I knew bankruptcy was a good fit for me.
There are two things I really enjoy.
The first is problem solving. I pride myself in coming up with out-of-the-box, efficient solutions to complex problems.
In bankruptcy, you are often working with pennies on the dollar, and the cost of litigating over pennies is unjustified. The best and most financially responsible resolutions are often ones that avoid costly trial unless absolutely necessary. It doesn’t work in every case, but I have a good track record when everyone is “economically rational.”
The second part I enjoy is becoming an expert on multiple industries. You get a crash course in the industry, whether its retail and real estate with Service Merchandise, lawnmowers with Murray or movie theaters with Regal Cinemas.
Good client relationships occur when I understand their business or can learn it quickly, when I understand exactly what the client is trying to accomplish and when they trust that I am giving them advice to best accomplish their goals.
I was with a small, boutique firm and was referring out so much work to full-service firms that it became a disadvantage.
When I started looking around, I knew that I wanted a firm where lawyers were recognized as the top in their field. I had a receivership case where I needed commercial real estate expertise. I hired Walt Burton to manage that part of case and quickly saw that we practiced law the same way, had a lot of the same principles and were committed to excellent service.
As we were nearing the end of the case, Walt asked me to join the firm.
I started my career in a large law firm where I put my work before family. When I left that firm, I made a promise to myself that family was going to come first. Thompson Burton makes work-life balance a priority. When my colleagues at other firms see that I am doing top-tier legal work in an environment that makes me so happy, they often ask “Is Thompson Burton hiring?”
Honestly, my life outside of work is busier than my life in the office.
Our family is very involved with Columbia Academy where my boys are in school. My wife teaches 6th grade, and I serve on the board of directors. I’m very involved with my children’s activities, including band, athletics and robotics.
In addition to my involvement at Columbia Academy, I teach two Bible study groups at my church and serve as a deacon over our college ministry.
My father and I are long-time season ticket holders for University of Alabama football, and my oldest son and I are season ticket holders for the Tennessee Titans.
When I think about what it takes to build a great firm, two things immediately come to mind. The first is hiring great people. The second is doing everything possible to ensure our attorneys and staff can do the most high-quality work possible for our clients.
The latter is why “efficiency” is one of Thompson Burton’s seven core values.
Having started our careers in “Big Law,” we saw many opportunities to be more efficient in how we deliver legal services. Some traditional processes worked well, but others made no sense given newly available technology and business practices.
Success happens when our attorneys and staff are producing the highest quality work and serving our clients at the highest level – not carrying on needless traditions. Below are three examples of how Thompson Burton practices efficiency every day to serve our clients better.
Work no longer happens in just the office. Thompson Burton attorneys have to be prepared – and have the freedom – to work wherever it makes the most sense.
From the beginning, the firm provided all attorneys with laptops and mobile technology, freeing them to work at the office, home, a coffee shop, a client meeting, etc.
ROWE also facilitates the work-life balance that attorneys value. Client and personal emergencies can throw a wrench into anyone’s schedule at any time. ROWE gives attorneys the flexibility to manage these situations while still staying on top of client work whenever and wherever it makes most sense.
Paper is the bane of efficiency – for attorneys and clients. If there is one thing we loathe, it is antiquated filing systems and reams of useless and environmentally unfriendly paper files. We are very intentional in how we practice law and interact with counterparties to minimize paper.
Cloud storage does not completely eliminate paper, but it does make work much easier for everyone.
With cloud storage, attorneys are able to:
And, of course, cloud storage supports ROWE by syncing updates across all devices at all times.
Time tracking and invoicing are vital activities for any firm.
Many firms use traditional paper time-keeping and invoicing. I think this may be one of the single biggest wastes of time and source of lost productivity in the legal profession.
We opted for a digital timekeeping system that eliminates several steps in the process and makes it easy for attorneys to generate client invoices in a timely and very efficient manner.
The real benefits are for clients. They receive invoices via email with all details of the attorney’s work. They can easily access prior invoices and all details online. And they can pay via whatever method is most convenient for their business or personal needs.