VOL. 126 | NO. 73 | Thursday, April 14, 2011
Memphis Law Talk
Patterson Strikes Right Balance Between Legal Duties
By Allison Buckley
The legal profession is often depicted by the scales of justice. That image is an appropriate one for Chris Patterson, who balances his time as a member with the Memphis firm Wiseman Bray PLLC and as town attorney for the city of Oakland, in neighboring Fayette County.
Although Patterson never planned on going to law school, he wound up at the University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he graduated in 2004.
He is now more comfortable than ever with his career decision.
“There wasn’t any big, defining moment, no,” Patterson said. “I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do so I took the LSAT, did all right, and ended up going to law school. And I’m glad I did. I think it fits my personality. I enjoy what I do. I don’t mind coming to work in the morning. I mean, I’d rather be on the beach, but on balance, I think I’ve got a great job.”
Wiseman Bray practices in many different areas of law, including estate planning, personal injury and business law. Patterson concentrates in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and business and commercial litigation. He also assists clients in real estate and estate planning.
Because of the recession, many builders and contactors have fallen on slow times, bringing a lot of business to construction litigators. And while this means Patterson is never without work, it also means that he is given multiple opportunities to represent contractors and suppliers whose legal success is in Patterson’s hands.
“I like construction. You learn a lot of neat things, meet some neat people,” he said. “Contractors are similar to lawyers in that there are a lot of people out there that think they know how to be a contractor but they really don’t. There’s a lot of people out there that think they can handle their own lawsuit and they make a mess of it.”
Earlier in his career and through an odd twist of events, Patterson had the opportunity to litigate a construction case alongside Jim Summers, a partner at Allen, Summers, Simpson, Lillie & Gresham PLLC.
“I work with good, smart people and I enjoy what I do. I think it’s important to enjoy what you do and I’m fortunate that I do.”
– Chris Patterson,
Member, Wiseman Bray PLLC
This is one case out of many where Patterson, a lawyer for only seven years, has been given the chance to work with someone he considers a distinguished lawyer.
And Patterson said it is the opportunities to work with these “smart lawyers” that has given him the right skill sets to become a successful lawyer himself.
“My partner (at Wiseman Bray) Lang Wiseman is the smartest lawyer I know and I got to learn how to be a litigator from him,” Patterson said. “I’m better at what I do now because I got to have people who are really good at what they do tell me how to do things.”
Another example of Patterson’s mentors is Suzanne Landers, a family lawyer with The Landers Firm PLLC.
Patterson has been busy working on complex cases, but luckily he experiences heated trials only about twice a year.
Toward the end of May, however, Patterson will experience a different kind of pressure than anything he’s seen in the courtroom.
His wife, Carrie, will give birth to their first baby.
Thankfully, Wiseman Bray provides a flexible work schedule where Patterson will be able to experience the joys of being a first-time dad as well as juggle his caseload and his duties as Oakland’s town attorney, which entails handling a variety of issues for the municipality.
As town attorney, Patterson has been able to hone his interest in contributing to the construction industry. Much of his time in Oakland has been spent working to complete the many subdivisions under contract with Oakland banks left incomplete due to the recession.
Though Patterson said he has a lot on his plate, he has a network in place to deal with the responsibilities.
“I work with good, smart people and I enjoy what I do,” he said. “I think it’s important to enjoy what you do and I’m fortunate that I do.”