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VOL. 123 | NO. 188 | Thursday, September 25, 2008

Local Boutique Firm Changes Name, Forms New Partnership

By Rebekah Hearn

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The Law Firm of William M. Jeter PLLC has changed its name to Jeter and Nahmias PLLC as a result of a partnership between Bill Jeter and Adam Nahmias, a 15-year veteran of the law profession who joined the Jeter firm in January 2007.

The partnership between the two lawyers was finalized July 14. Also in July, the firm hired James D. Lawson, an attorney who has been practicing for 22 years in North Little Rock at Hilburn, Calhoon, Harper, Pruniski & Calhoun LTD.

Jeter, Nahmias and Lawson all handle business litigation issues, mostly construction-related matters.

Forming a partnership

Jeter started his solo firm in September 2000. He previously had worked for another Memphis firm for about 24 years.

Upon starting his firm, Jeter hired an associate who later moved out of town. Jeter worked with several other associates until he hired Nahmias.

The partnership between the two was “something we had talked about from the very beginning, and it was just a matter of working out the financial aspects of it,” Jeter said.

Before joining Jeter’s firm, Nahmias was an attorney at Jackson Shields and Yeiser, now Jackson Shields Yeiser & Holt, in Cordova.

“I’ve known Bill for years, and frankly, it got to be a good fit,” Nahmias said. “I feel like Bill’s got as good a reputation as any attorney in this city, and I’ve always respected that.”

With the addition of Lawson, Jeter said they have been able to increase their caseload and share knowledge.

“Adam knows more about liens than I do, so when I have an issue come up like that, it’s easier for him to take the case and handle it, and the client benefits from it because they save money associated with the expenses on the case,” Jeter said.

Also, Jeter said if Nahmias has a problem or an issue on a case, the two of them can work on it together.

“We all have different areas that we’ve been involved in more than the other, and we’re able to just share knowledge,” said Jeter.

On the construction industry

Both lawyers talked about the current state of the commercial and residential real estate economies.

Jeter said he recently has seen an increase in construction litigation cases, which he said was surprising to him.

“So many people are looking to cut costs by suing somebody and making them pay for part of their complaint. I think more lawsuits associated with construction are being filed on a regular basis,” Jeter said.

“We’re also seeing a substantial increase in business for our clients not being paid by various owners, and having to file liens and the lawsuits associated with them.”

Nahmias agreed that the increase in cases is partially related to nonpayment issues. He also said he has seen more nonpayment issues and lien filings recently, which he attributes to the state of the construction industry.

Often, Nahmias said clients call only if they can’t work out the problems on site.

“Sometimes they will try to resolve those issues themselves, if they can, and we’re sort of the last resort when they’ve exhausted all those remedies on the site with the people involved on the construction project,” Nahmias said. “Obviously, the more construction projects that are ongoing, the more likelihood something will go wrong.”

Both lawyers said the residential market is where the hits really are being taken, since builders who are paying on lots now have to question whether it’s worth it to built on those lots, which Nahmias described as “a catch-22 for some of them.”

“But these same clients are holding a lot of inventory as well,” he added. “But right now, it’s a tough market, for everybody in the construction industry.”

Buyer’s market?

Jeter confirmed that the local housing industry really is a buyer’s market.

“I’ve heard that from a lot of real estate agents,” he said.

Although it may be a buyer’s market in terms of the availability and low prices of homes, at least in the Memphis area, the problem of obtaining a mortgage is what stands in the way of many people buying homes right now.

“It’s definitely tougher to get a mortgage these days; the regulations are much different, or at least they’re being reviewed more strictly than they were in the past,” Jeter said. “I was personally involved in selling something recently, and I can tell you from experience it is definitely a buyer’s market.”

Regarding the difficulty of obtaining a home loan, Nahmias added that someone who can afford a house in the $400,000 to $1 million range will have a better chance of qualifying for a loan, even right now.

“I think it’s those other loans that things have gotten much tighter from a banking standpoint,” Nahmias said.

PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064