VOL. 127 | NO. 140 | Thursday, July 19, 2012
Memphis Law Talk
Bailey Likes Solving Problems for Law Clients
By Andy Meek
The law firm founded by Olen “Mac” Bailey Jr. with a goal of being a leading estate planning law firm in the Memphis area celebrates 16 years in business this year.
Bailey, who concentrates his practice in estate taxation and planning, asset protection planning, charitable gift planning, business succession planning and elder law, doesn’t expect the focus areas of The Bailey Law Firm to change much going forward. But he does allow that while he thinks the firm has reached a “good size” for the time being, growth might still be on the horizon.
“I think we’re probably in the market right now for a couple of either lateral hires or acquiring some retiring estate planning or probate attorneys’ practices,” said Bailey, a frequent lecturer and presenter on estate planning issues to attorneys, accountants, financial planners and other professionals and individuals.
“We’ve done that in the past, and that’s part of our growth strategy – to look to lawyers who are looking to wind down their practice. And we would hopefully be able to acquire their practices, so to speak, and let them wind their practice down at our firm.”
The firm’s elder law side has just kicked off a new veterans affairs practice group, and the firm is doing more veterans’ benefits planning these days for individuals who have served in the military. Bailey said it’s specifically geared toward long-term care benefits for veterans.
Bailey said he enjoys the firm’s current focus areas for being so unlike courtroom work.
“I’ve always enjoyed it, because it’s always a win-win,” he said. “When you do litigation, it’s not always a win. You do lose sometimes in litigation.
“But when you’re doing planning for individuals and families and married couples, it’s always a win because you’re always providing them with something that’s beneficial to them and future generations.”
The Bailey Law Firm has four lawyers now. Bailey is the sole shareholder of the boutique firm, and it specializes in basically three areas: estate planning, estate administration and elder law.
Bailey went to law school at Vanderbilt University and graduated in 1989. He’s an alumnus of the Institute for Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University in Washington and of the London School of Economics in London. He practiced in Jackson, Miss., for five years, and after that, he relocated to Memphis and started his current firm.
He grew up in the Mississippi Delta and recalls a particular family attorney in the area who worked with his family whenever problems would come up.
“And this gentleman was always there for my father and mother and always took care of whatever their problem was, whether it was termite damage or a small fender bender or doing a last will and testament,” Bailey said. “He was the go-to guy, and my father would always pick up the phone and he would always take care of the problem. And that, I think, was a really powerful influence.”
The firm is built around three platforms, according to Bailey: a team approach, fixed fees and expedient turnaround.
“When I started the firm, those three platforms really weren’t existing in a lot of law firms,” he said. “The team approach is about the fact we work with financial planners and insurance professionals and CPAs and care managers, and I always like to have them all involved throughout the process. On fixed fees – you know, most clients like to know what things are going to cost. I think the old hourly rate method really isn’t as palatable in today’s society.
“On the expedient turnaround piece – just get it done and get it out of the way. Then the clients’ planning is complete and they can have that peace of mind.”
Solving problems is what he says he loves best about the practice of law.
“Because people don’t come to you unless they have something they need a solution to,” Bailey said. “I like people being able to pose questions to me and we provide them with answers.
“What we try to do is put lawyers in our firm in charge of the different practice areas and even paralegals only in particular practice areas where they would work with more than one lawyer if they needed to. And that’s really helped us keep abreast of the field.”