It’s been a long time coming, but Michael Coury has made the move to Glankler Brown PLLC.
The attorney, whose practice is in bankruptcy and creditors’ rights law, business reorganizations, workouts, and business and commercial litigation, nearly made the switch when previous firm Waring Cox disbanded in 2001.
A client conflict kept that from happening, however, and he stayed with the firm that would become Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC. When an opportunity with Glankler Brown became available last month, he moved his office across Poplar Avenue in East Memphis.
“The idea of coming to Glankler is not a new one,” Coury said. “If things worked out right 12 years ago, I would have come here.”
Coury was raised in Memphis and attended Rhodes College, where he graduated in 1977 with a degree in political science – and a fervent interest in the law.
“While I was at Rhodes I took a constitutional law class and I think that was one of the things that got me interested,” he said. “They had some practicing lawyers that were part-time faculty that would come and lecture, and it was just something I always had an interest in.”
Laughing, he added that a sibling rivalry also may have contributed to his three decades-long career.
“Truthfully, part of it was that I had a brother that was two years older and was going to be a doctor, and I decided I wanted to be different from him,” Coury said.
After attending Vanderbilt Law School, he returned home to take a position with the now-defunct law firm of Laughlin, Halle, Gibson & McBride.
Early in Coury’s career, he was sent to attend a hearing on a bankruptcy case presided over by Judge Freeman Marr.
“One thing led to another and he ended up hiring me to be lawyer for the trustee on that particular case,” Coury said. “It was the very first client I brought in on my own as a lawyer.”
He began cutting his teeth on bankruptcy law with that case that ended up being a rather large one at the time, he said, and he still considers Marr, now a municipal judge in Bartlett, as mentor.
In 1992, Coury joined Humphreys Dunlap Wellford Acuff & Stanton before eventually signing on with Waring Cox.
In the nearly 33 years since Coury received his law degree, the largest and most profound change in the practice of bankruptcy law has been in the realm of technology, which he has embraced wholeheartedly.
His wife, Cyndi, is a computer consultant as well and “she’s usually able to try to keep me on the cutting edge.”
When he first began, clients were “more dependent on local counsel to do the heavy lifting.” On the business bankruptcy side, in some respects, he has seen practices become more regional in scope.
“Part of this, I think, is technology driven because you can now file pleadings electronically over the Internet,” he said. “And so, as long as you meet the requirements of getting admitted to a court in another district, or having local counsel there, you can do a lot of work here in Memphis even though the case might be, say, in Delaware.”
Such changes, and the inherent fluctuation and evolution of the legal profession, and the challenges that poses, are the reason the 57-year-old Coury considered a move of firms instead of a move to retirement.
“Even when you become adept in a particular area of law, I think most of the lawyers I know enjoy practicing law because, even though the subject matter may be similar in your case load, every case is a little bit different and the clients are a little bit different and the problems that come up are different,” he said.
Coury is a Fellow with the American College of Bankruptcy and is the director of the Tennessee chapter of the Turnaround Management Association. He is a past director of the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute and the Memphis Bar Association.