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VOL. 123 | NO. 125 | Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rainey Kizer Firm, Reviere Ready for Downtown Move

By Rebekah Hearn

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Russell “Rusty” Reviere
Position: Member
Firm: Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC
Basics: The firm will open a Downtown office in early July.
“You’re ultimately going to be measured by the quality of the work that you do, and the quality of the person doing it.”
Russell “Rusty” Reviere

Russell “Rusty” Reviere is moving Downtown. Well, sort of.

His firm, Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, where he is a member, has offices in Jackson, Tenn., and East Memphis. But over the next couple of weeks, the firm will open a new office in the Morgan Keegan Tower Downtown, which will replace its East Memphis location.

Reviere’s practice focuses on bad faith and insurance fraud, insurance coverage, and defense of professional liability claims and complex litigation. He is a certified civil trial specialist by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and also is a member of several organizations, including The Defense Research Institute and the International Association of Defense Counsel.

Reviere also was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of insurance law.

Q: Talk about the new Downtown office.

A: We have been in Memphis for five years out east. Probably the biggest part of my practice has been in Memphis, as well as others in my firm, so it was sort of a natural progression that we open another office in Memphis. That (new) office will have five attorneys, and I’m in and out as well. You’re more part of the legal world when you’re Downtown and in the community there. We’re very excited about it, and we’ve got some great lawyers that are going to be there.

Q: What led you to bad faith and insurance fraud?

A: It’s partly (that) I fell into that. State Farm was starting a program a long time ago fighting insurance fraud. They asked me if I would be interested in doing that, and I started it. State Farm had a lot of success, and a lot of other insurance companies seemed to follow suit. So it sort of carved out a niche that I don’t know was by design as much as just result. But the other areas, such as the professional liability stuff, just developed in terms of business opportunities that came. I like that kind of work; I like that combination of work.

We’d (Rainey Kizer) already been working with State Farm, and that goes all the way back to the early 1980s and mid-’80s. At that point … insurance companies felt like they couldn’t fight successfully the problems of insurance fraud, primarily arson. So State Farm developed a pilot program in Tennessee and Kentucky where they designated lawyers to specialize in that order and also trained adjusters. It just proved to be very successful. There’s the sense of fighting a real problem, a societal problem.

I’ve heard estimates as much as 50 percent of every premium dollar for homeowners and property insurance goes to insurance fraud. It’s a real problem that we all pay for, so I like the feeling that we’re hopefully doing something to fight that problem, and it’s certainly been very successful.

Q: How did you get involved with the International Association of Arson Investigators?

A: Well, it was a natural result of the type of work I was doing. You start to associate with groups that had similar motives, whether they be insurance or law enforcement or fire officials who have the same type motivation; we work separately but cooperatively with law enforcement and fire officials who are doing investigations often as well. So we find that it’s sometimes very cooperative but separate, truly independent investigations. These organizations, like the International Association, are designed to bring those folks together.

Q: What, if anything, would you change about the practice of law?

A: I would encourage more civility and more professionalism. It’s adversarial, but it’s adversarial with respect for what the other lawyer is doing. I am happy to go to dinner at night with a lawyer that I’ve knocked heads with during the day. In fact, I was in a case in Memphis years ago, where … a couple of the other lawyers were both gourmet cooks, and they would pick restaurants and we would all go to dinner at night. We got to be great friends, but absolutely represented our clients fully in every respect.

To me, that’s an example of how we can do our jobs without making it petty and personal. You’re ultimately going to be measured by the quality of the work that you do, and the quality of the person doing it. It’s not going to be about your win and loss record, or how big your bank account balance is.

Q: Are there any cases, either historical or current, that you wished you could have been counsel on?

A: I’ve never gotten to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, and for people who do litigation and appellate work, that’s obviously the ultimate. Having been in a case where I would have had the opportunity to argue – and hopefully still may – before the U.S. Supreme Court, would be something I would love to do. But I’ve got a long way to go yet, I’m not going to quit; so I still may get that chance.

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