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I had an interest in the courtroom but
also in transactional work. I was drawn
to the world of creditors’ rights because
of that mix between litigation and
transactional work. When I got into it, I
found that as a creditors’ rights lawyer,
my job is about solving problems. I
have some really good clients who
realize that not every situation needs to
be addressed by immediately filing a
lawsuit or starting foreclosure. They
realize that a lot of times the best way to
maximize recovery is an out-of-the-box solution. That’s what’s really drawn
me to this type of work, the ability to
solve problems with that mentality.
Q Has that changed over the past few years? Since 2008, a lot of
people have been squeezed financially.
Did creditors decide that it was in their
interests to work at this? Has there been
a change in their attitudes?
I don’t know that
there’s been a change in attitude, but I
can’t stress enough how fortunate I’ve
been to have really great clients who
take this approach. The approach of
one of my principle clients has been,
“We want to treat a borrower with the
respect that they deserve so that once
this bump in the road is over, they will
still want to be customers of the bank.”
They have a tough time right now and
we need to address that, but if you go
into every single situation with the
gloves off, you’re not going to make any
friends, and these folks are going to tell
their friends, “Don’t do business with
Of course, every situation is
different, and sometimes you’re not
looking to salvage a relationship
for different reasons—perhaps
you have a bad borrower, a
fraudster or something like that.
Q When you were clerking at the firm, did they try to expose you to
all different types of law?
Sure. The law firm is
full-service corporate firm, so I had the
opportunity to see all different types of
law. I liked the mix between the
transactional and the litigation, but I
also liked the group of people, the
Bankruptcy Practice group at this firm.
I really enjoyed those people, which as
you know is almost as important as the
subject matter of whatever your job is.
Q With the benefit of your experience, if you could start over,
would you do anything differently today?
I don’t know that I
would do anything differently—nothing
drastic anyway. Realizing that I’ve had
the chance to work with some really
great older lawyers over the years—I’m
not talking about just inside in my firm,
but outside, opposing counsel as well. I
wish I had been a little more deliberate in
learning from them, about how they
handle people, how they handle
situations. I’m not a journal keeper, but it
probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea
to just jot down little nuggets about how
they handle the technical part of the law,
but also the servicing and representation
of clients and clients.
Q Usually the bankruptcy bar is small enough that once you’ve been at it
for a while, you do get to know the other
players. Has your relationship with them
changed over the years as you’ve gotten
to know them better?
It really has. The
bankruptcy bar in Birmingham, like
most cities, is relatively small, so you
see the same people over and over.
Your word is important, no matter what
you’re doing, but when you’re working
with the same people on a regular
basis, it’s nice to know that a
handshake means something, that
someone’s word means something. I
hope that I’ve earned the trust and
respect from my colleagues that they
have earned. There are a lot of folks out
there who when they call me and tell
me something, I don’t necessarily need
a letter confirming that. I know that
they’re going to do what they said
they’re going to do.
You’re going to have situations where
things get tense. That’s the nature
of what we do. You’re going to have
situations where they’re not your
best friend at the time, but you can
handle a situation professionally
and be honest with one another
and when it’s done, you can shake
hands. And that’s important to me.
Q What have been some of your most gratifying, favorite, or
I represented a lender
a few years back in a workout matter
involving a family business. This was a
multigenerational business, so it had
been in the family for a long time. Things
had gone bad, and they were selling the
business. Emotions were high on the
We had a closing here in my office,
where we were signing some
settlement documents to help them
go through the process of selling. My
lender client couldn’t be there that
day, but at the end of the meeting, the
president of the company stood up and,
literally with tears in his eyes, said, “I
want you to tell your client how much
we appreciate how they’ve worked
with us and how they’ve treated us
with respect through this ordeal.”
That really stood out to me. Going back
to my point about being fortunate to
have great clients, my client did what
they needed to do to protect the bank,
but at the same time they treated these
people like the humans that they were
and they were conscious of what these
borrowers were going through.
This was a situation where, as we say
down here, these were good people,
they just had some problems with their
business, and the economy certainly
didn’t help the situation either.
Q Who inspires you professionally and personally?
I have three children
at home, 3-year-old twins and a
1-year-old. My wife Lora is the person
who inspires me. I come to the office
every day, and she stays at home and
chases these three kids around the
house. She makes what I do look easy.
Any time I have them by myself and I
find myself constantly thinking, “When
is Mom coming home?”
Q How did you and your wife meet?
She was still in college
finishing her master's in accounting. I
had just graduated. My brother was
friends with her, and she came over to
my house one weekend when my
brother was in town. We met, started
dating, and were married a year and a
Q Who else inspires you?
person who comes to my mind is my
mentor here at the firm, Hamp Boles.
Hamp is the go-to banking lawyer in a
lot of ways in the state of Alabama. He
has taught a number of young lawyers,