As an undergraduate student studying communications at the University of Mississippi, Mark Lambert was leaning toward a career in advertising, and the possibility of being an attorney had never even crossed his mind.
“I always envisioned it being a great deal of writing and library time, and being a little bit on the boring side and not very creative,” he said.
But a chance encounter on a rainy Mardi Gras night in New Orleans had a profound impact on the college student’s direction in life.
“It started to rain and I stumbled into this little cafe, where I was standing next to this older attorney,” Lambert said. “We ended up talking about his work, and he told me that what he enjoyed most about being an attorney was that he never stopped learning things … and that just struck me because I was young and I wanted to learn as much and as often as I could.”
He never did catch the stranger’s name, but that conversation led Lambert to later enroll at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he received a number of accolades, including the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence and the American Jurisprudence Award for his services to the Memphis community as a student attorney for the Litigation Clinic.
After graduating from law school with honors in 2002, Lambert chose to focus his practice on representing injured workers and the families of workers killed on the job.
“That’s important in this area because our workforce is so industrialized and we still have a great deal of transportation and manufacturing,” said Lambert, who, along with colleague Peter Gee, was recently named a partner at the Memphis branch of Morgan & Morgan.
The firm, which branched off from The Cochran Firm, is one of the nation’s largest plaintiff’s law firms, with multiple offices throughout the Southeast. Morgan & Morgan attorneys handle auto accident, personal injury and medical malpractice cases, as well as claims against drug and medical device manufacturers.
“Our corporate model is that we only represent individuals; we’ll never represent a corporation, a big business or an insurance company,” said Lambert, 38, of his firm, whose motto is “For the People.”
Lambert said what the stranger told him in New Orleans that rainy night many years ago still rings true today; the best part about being a lawyer, he says, is the opportunity to learn something fresh each day.
Lambert said his area of practice allows him to one day – while working on a case for a client who was injured when a piece of equipment malfunctioned – think like an engineer. The next day he may be working with a client who has an implanted medical device, which requires him to think like a physician.
“I have to think abut how that’s going to affect the way they can rotate their shoulder or bend their elbow,” he said.
Lambert said working with clients who’ve lost a loved one in a sudden, tragic manner can be emotionally taxing at times, and while some attorneys are able to more easily detach themselves, Lambert said he tends to “wear these things on my sleeve.”
“They’ve generally lost either the primary or sole breadwinner, so they’re not only emotionally devastated they’re financially devastated,” he said. “They’re looking to me to fix some of those problems.”
But, he says, his work can also be tremendously rewarding. It’s not unusual for Lambert to receive thank you cards and even homemade pies.
“You get a great deal of thanks and appreciation from your clients, and I don’t think you get quite as much of that working for larger corporations,” he said.
When he’s not working, Lambert devotes his time to a number of philanthropic endeavors. He has done everything from volunteering with the Memphis Family Shelter to raising money for the Mid-South Food Bank.
He also visits local high schools to speak to students about the dangers of distracted driving. He said he enjoys spending time with young people, and he often ends up talking shop with them.
“I want to tell them that it’s an enjoyable profession and that I love my work,” Lambert said. “Every day, I can’t wait to get to the office and do good work and help people. It’s very rewarding.”
The Cooper-Young resident also enjoys visiting the dog park with his adopted retired racing greyhound, and checking out local bands on the Memphis live music circuit.
“I love living in Memphis for a number of reasons,” he said. “I could choose to live anywhere I want, but I love live music and there’s probably no better place than Memphis.”