VOL. 126 | NO. 23 | Thursday, February 3, 2011
Memphis Law Talk
Wiseman ‘Sets the Table’ for Policy as Lawyer, GOP Chair
By Andy Meek
Like most lawyers, some of whom will point to the first time they watched Perry Mason or read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Lang Wiseman gets asked a lot about how he got into the field of law.
(Photo: Bob Bayne)
He was the first person in his family to go to college, much less law school. Wiseman, one of the namesakes of the Memphis firm Wiseman Bray PLLC, freely admits that back then, he had no idea what he was getting into.
The young man who graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the University of Tennessee and later with honors from Harvard Law School, however, had always been fascinated with the law – and, in particular, its relationship to rules, history and politics.
“It all just seemed to kind of dovetail together,” said Wiseman, who’s led a fruitful legal career and is helping nurture a growing law practice that’s about a decade old and also has found time to serve as the current chair of the Shelby County Republican Party.
It should come as no surprise the party chairman has seen politics sprinkled throughout much of his adult life – something that actually started when he was still in law school.
“I’d always kind of been interested in politics,” Wiseman said. “Growing up, I was always fascinated with Ronald Reagan and his life story. When I was in college, I read one of his biographies that had come out.”
When he was still at Harvard during the 1996 presidential contest that ultimately pitted Bob Dole against Bill Clinton, Wiseman would frequently trek from Boston to New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
It’s a key early testing ground for presidential candidates, who are expected to greet the state’s well-engaged voters in person as often as they can, and it also provides good exposure to politics for young hopefuls.
“I would drive up there almost every day for a couple of months,” Wiseman said. “(Current U.S. Sen. Lamar) Alexander was in the primary then, and I would go work on his campaign and just do grunt work. I really liked it. The people of New Hampshire take their politics very seriously. I kind of fell in love with it.”
After graduating from law school, Wiseman spent a year clerking for a federal judge, then went to Washington. He worked for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson while Thompson was chairman of the Senate’s governmental affairs committee.
After that, Wiseman went to work for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC. After about four years there, he started his own firm, which is coming up on its 10-year anniversary.
Today, Wiseman’s practice includes what he says is a “healthy mix” of both plaintiff and defense cases. His firm’s website says he concentrates in the areas of business and commercial litigation, personal injury, automobile accidents, medical and legal malpractice, products liability, wrongful death, construction litigation and lien disputes, and government relations/public policy.
“We have a fairly diverse practice,” Wiseman said. “Currently, we have five lawyers. We have an office here and an office in Brentwood that serves Williamson and Davidson counties.”
His firm has made heavy use of the Internet and social media. It maintains a blog, plus Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. The firm also recently added a new associate.
As far as the other hat he wears, Wiseman said he does not intend to offer his name for nomination at the party’s convention in March, meaning he won’t be the local GOP chairman much longer.
In thinking about his chosen profession, Wiseman summed up his interest in it by pointing to its unique position of influence over so many human endeavors.
“The law kind of sets the table for everything we want to do, whether we like it or not, in life,” he said.