“Hi John – Are You Still Practicing Law?”

I was speaking at a seminar in Knoxville Friday and someone asked me that question. I was a little taken aback, and then remembered that Evan Schaeffer of Legal Underground faced the same issue recently.

The answer is an unambigious “Yes” but I guess some explanation is necessary. I have spent a good amount of time over the years during professional association activities, particularly with the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association and, in the last decade, the National Board of Trial Advocacy. I also founded and am a co-author of the Tennessee Tort Law Letter, a monthly newsletter on tort law developments in Tennessee and serve, from time to time, on various committees, boards, and commissions. Then, last February, I started playing with this blog. I guess that could cause some people to wonder if I still practice law.

Well, I do, and I believe that the folks in my office will tell you that it is still a full-time practice. How do I work it all in? I typically blog between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning, although I occasionally prepare a post at night before I go to bed and actually post it the next morning. I do my other writing at nights or on the weekends and squeeze in the professional activities just like the rest of you do. The writing and speaking I do on substantive law actually keeps me very current on the case law in the state and developments in the law around the nation, which I believe helps me better represent our clients.

Those of you who have been fortunate enough to speak at a seminar or write an article know that the speaker/author learns a tremendous amount by preparing to do it. Lawyers are a tough audience and expect substance. The speaker/author who has any self-respect will want to do a good job and will, if anything, over-prepare for the project. That preparation brings new knowledge that helps you do a better job representing your clients and makes you more efficient in doing so.

I am also fortunate to work with great people who help keep our cases moving at a quick pace. We keep a relatively small number of cases per lawyer and use our best efforts to bring them to a prompt resolution. By dividing responsibilities and having at least two lawyers and one paralegal on every case no case sits for even a week without substantive activity. Therefore, with the magic of cell phones, Blackberrys, and computers I can work even if I am on the road speaking taking a deposition, speaking at a seminar, or serving as a member of a Board or Commission.

So, as I said above, the answer is “Yes, I still practice law.” As I have said many times, the law is not (as they told us in law school) a jealous mistress. The law is a nymphomaniac. Fortunately, I enjoy reading about it, speaking about it, and writing about it. I enjoy working to keep the courthouse doors open in the Legislature and improving the administration of justice on committees and boards. But what I really enjoy is representing people who need help. And I still do it. Everyday.