Before exploring the hushed recesses of a law library and the endless indexes of a legal textbook, Chris Frulla of Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC wanted to explore some of the country.
His wanderlust took him from Memphis, where he’d attended White Station High School, to South Carolina and College of Charleston. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in anthropology and minor in geology and environmental geostudies.
Following college, Frulla worked for a cultural resource management company doing private archeology surveys for two years.
“Eventually I decided that it was something that I enjoyed but not something that I wanted to base my career around, and I started trying to make some decisions about the rest of my life,” he said.
His father is William Frulla, a University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law alumnus and longtime Memphis attorney.
“Growing up and watching the passion he had towards his profession, it’s always been in the back of my mind,” Frulla said. “I knew I wanted to go back to school and eventually I made a decision that I wanted to pursue a career in law.”
There was a stop to make first, however, in his exploration. Already an avid outdoorsman, he moved from South Carolina to Denver to work for an environmental law firm. The work got his foot in the door of the legal profession, also giving him the opportunity to fly fish, hike and golf amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.
“I wanted to come back to Memphis and be where my family was. I’ll enjoy the outdoors anywhere I am. Being an attorney allows me to take some nice vacations every now and then.”
– Chris Frulla
“I enjoyed the work I did there and during that time I made the decision to apply for law school,” Frulla said.
He knew his studies would take place at home and close to family in Memphis at the same school his father had attended. He said his time off between undergraduate and law school – almost four years – gave him a perspective he thinks many may lack going directly from one to the other.
Having come from days spent at the office in Denver, he treated school like a job, attending from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. whether he had class or not.
The focus and dedication paid off, and a summer job after his second year of law school with Rainey Kizer turned into a job offer and work that began last August, two months after finishing school. His area of law covers insurance defense and tort litigation, something he worked in during that summer program.
Though he has yet to make it in front of a jury, many cases settling before trial, he does enjoy being in the courtroom.
“A lot of the cases I have are in General Sessions, which does not involve a jury trial,” he said. “It involves a bench trial with a judge.”
Still within his first year as a practicing lawyer, Frulla said Rainey Kizer has been great about working with him to further his knowledge in the field.
“All of the attorneys here are very helpful in assisting new attorneys,” he said, pointing especially to his mentor in the firm, Jonathan Stewart.
And, of course, help can still be had over family dinner with his father just across the table.
“He is a great resource,” Frulla said. “He was a great mentor throughout law school and he’s still a great one anytime I have questions about anything specific or just in general. He’s always there.”
Frulla can also draw on his law school experiences, where he worked as an extern for Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and also served as vice president of the Student Bar Association.
Though he moved away from the salt marshes of the Atlantic coast and the pristine streams of the mountains, Frulla couldn’t think of anyplace else he’d rather begin his legal career.
“I wanted to come back to Memphis and be where my family was,” he said. “I’ll enjoy the outdoors anywhere I am, and being an attorney allows me to take some nice vacations every now and then, and be able to get back and enjoy the parts of the country that I lived in.”