Chances are good that you’ve seen attorney David Pool in action. Maybe not pacing the courtroom floor in front of a jury but in front of a raucous crowd at a late-night tavern. The in-house counsel for Drexel Chemical Co. came to the legal profession late, having been heavily involved in the local music scene with groups such as Pam and the Passions, and Carson & Pool.
Pool received a bachelor’s degree in commercial music with a concentration in jazz composition from the University of Memphis and then taught at Memphis Catholic, Central High School and Lausanne Collegiate School.
After seven years of teaching, he became a full-time professional musician, touring Europe, resort towns and with regular summer gigs in Destin, Fla.
Why give up nights on the beach club circuit for days in a law library? The idea was never far off, Pool’s father had been an attorney and Pool knew he could go to him with any questions.
“There were many times when he said, ‘You signed a contract? Let me look at it,’” Pool said. “But like any adult, you end up in situations with contracts or purchases … where you feel like you really got the raw end of the deal, so I frequently thought about going back to school.”
Couple the wisdom from his father with the fact that the music business is overrun with bad deals, and at 37 Pool found himself at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
“It was very demanding; every day I would think when I woke up, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” he said of being more than a decade older than the average law student. “It was a real eye-opener, the amount of effort and work and diligence you had to put into it.”
After graduating in 2008, Pool teamed with attorney David Ray for half a year before heading out on his own in general practice. He enjoyed working solo and soon found himself with more work than he’d expected. Being an older attorney when starting his practice, Pool had the advantage of a network already in place and referrals and clients came from the many people he’d met while performing live over the years. “I was so busy that I hired a secretary just to answer the phone,” he said.
Pool had further plans, though, having designs to run for judge. He sought advice from Leigh Shockey, a friend and the CEO of Drexel Chemical Co., who offered her help, but something else as well: a position as in-house counsel with her family’s business.
“I miss music, but there’s nothing like being a lawyer.”
“Every judge and every attorney that I spoke with said to me, ‘If they’re offering you an in-house counsel position, you should take it. You can always run for judge, but you can’t always get a position like they’re offering you; attorneys that have been practicing for years covet those positions and you really should take that offer,’” Pool said.
He did, and says that the position has “worked out fabulously.” Pool’s work for the company that manufactures agricultural chemicals and has 250 employees involves a lot of contract review, compliance, employment law and insurance matters. It’s a far cry from the days he spent in the Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex, the courthouse or Juvenile Court as a general practitioner.
“I have one client; it’s Drexel,” he said. “The questions and issues that are presented on a regular basis are so interesting and to resolve the problem is so satisfying.”
Having received his undergraduate, a master’s in teaching and law degree from one school, Pool is a big booster of the University of Memphis. He sits on the board of the Law Alumni Association and tries to help in any way he can, whether it be monetarily, with sweat equity or encouraging students to enter the law school.
As for the bright lights and roaring crowds, Pool is equally as happy with a satchel full of briefs and Westlaw.
“I miss music, but there’s nothing like being a lawyer,” Pool said. “Every lawyer that I talked to while I was in law school, the young ones and the old ones, there was a common theme: You won’t believe, when you graduate, how important this is and how every aspect of your life is inextricably related to the law somehow.”