“Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
The place where your business or your life meets the legal system is a cliff.
To not fall off the cliff requires two things.
Trust. And, someone to tell your story.
Trust between lawyer and client. And a narrative that persuades, whatever the audience—judge or jury, prosecutor or regulator, adversary or ally.
I base my practice first on trust, then on persuasion. Trust gets you to a comfort level; persuasion allows us to solve problems by shaping someone else’s thinking. From white-collar criminal prosecutions to toxic torts, from D&O lawsuits to professional liability claims, from electronic-discovery advice to alternative-fee arrangements—all of which I do—none of it matters unless there is trust and a narrative.
So, when do I most like to work?
When they blame management.
In the current economic and political climate, directors, officers and professionals—accountants, investment bankers, business consultants and lawyers—are ripe targets for blame. I’ve handled most types of directors’ and officers’ and professional liability litigation—fiduciary duty lawsuits, malpractice claims and contract disputes, claims for securities fraud and tortious interference with contractual and business relations, and recovery actions brought by trustees of bankrupt publicly-traded companies.
When they try to put you in prison and your business out of business.
On the white-collar side, I have pretrial, trial and appellate experience across the federal and state landscape: corporate internal investigations, kickback cases, grand jury investigations, gaming issues, defense of criminal environmental offenses, public-corruption enforcement, due diligence issues under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Congressional investigations, election contests, defense of health-care entities in civil and criminal matters, including Medicare fraud and qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act, and investigations by military officials.
I’m also the publisher of the firm’s Twitter feed about white-collar crime and enforcement matters: @WhiteCollarWire.
When technology meets law, and it’s not going well.
As a lawyer in the firm's Electronic Discovery and Digital Information practice, I represent companies and individuals in a host of electronic-information issues pre-trial, at trial and on appeal.
When they claim you’re harming the environment.
In the environmental and toxic-tort area, I’ve represented a variety of industries and businesses for more than two decades in state and federal courts in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia. I’ve defended personal injury and property damage claims involving facilities in the chemical, petrochemical, nuclear, wood-treatment and pulp-and-paper industries. I’ve served as counsel to plaintiffs and defendants in private, governmental and citizen suits under CERCLA, RCRA and other federal and state statutes, natural-gas disputes and in Superfund and RCRA negotiations and remediations.
What else might be useful to know about me?
I’m a member of several state bars (Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the District of Columbia), and I was in school for a long time: undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee University; graduate degrees from the Institute for European Studies (Geneva, Switzerland) and Washington University in St. Louis; and a law degree from Harvard University. While at Harvard, I was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, which was more fun than class.
Out of law school, I was a judicial clerk to Judge David B. Sentelle, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit—wonderful man, great judge, powerful influence on me and best man in my wedding. Then I practiced at Covington & Burling (also in Washington, D.C.) before I became Special Counsel to the House Banking Committee (now called the Financial Services Committee). As Special Counsel to the Committee for its Whitewater investigation, I oversaw a team whose work culminated in four days of nationally-televised hearings in August 1995.
Sometimes, I teach: I’ve been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University and the University of Alabama, and I have helped out with a course on Electronic Discovery at Cumberland School of Law.
Professionally, I belong to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the White Collar Crime Committee of the ABA Section on Criminal Justice, and the Committee on Criminal Litigation of the ABA Section of Litigation. When I worked in Washington, I was a member of the Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court in Washington, D.C., an Inn devoted solely to white collar fraud matters. Currently, I’m a Barrister of the Birmingham American Inn of Court. As a member of the Alabama State Board of Bar Examiners, I graded a lot of bar exams. I’m also a former Group Chairman of the Birmingham Bar Association's Grievance Committee.
As a former president of the Washington & Lee University Alumni Association (1997-1998), I remain active in W&L projects. I’m married, and the father of two children, and I serve in various lay capacities at my church. To the extent that hard work and enthusiasm can overcome inexperience, I love to coach youth lacrosse teams.
Seminars, Articles and Speeches
- Civil Lessons from Criminal Trials; 2012
- ”Cost versus Value: Beyond Budgets, Towards Trust,” Network of Trial Law Firms, New York, New York (August 7, 2009)
- "Electronic Discovery," Practitioner-In-Residence for seminar held by Judge John Carroll, Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama (Fall 2008)
- "Electronic Discovery," Pretrial Advocacy Seminar, University of Alabama Law School, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (October 7, 2008)
- "Privilege and Ethics," The Basics of Electronic Discovery, Alabama Bar Institute on Continuing Legal Education, Birmingham, Alabama (October 31, 2008)
- "Effect of the Subprime Disaster on the Legal Profession," Alabama Bar Institute on Continuing Legal Education, Birmingham, Alabama (October 17, 2008)
- "Electronic Documents, But Real Money: Controlling E-Discovery Costs," Network of Trial Law Firms, New York, New York (August 1, 2008)
- "New E-Discovery Rules: Emerging Legal Issues," panel member, District of Columbia Judicial Circuit Judicial Conference, Farmington, Pennsylvania (June 4, 2008)
- "Public Corruption Cases," White-Collar Crime seminar held by Professor Pam Bucy, University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (January 30, 2008)