Random Profile: Chandler Grisham, Ft. Worth

For Random Profiles, we randomly pick one of our 87,000-plus attorneys and do a Q&A. We've found that every Texas lawyer has an interesting story. Will yours be next?

Family: Daughter, Austin Elizabeth Grisham, 20 years-old and a junior at St. Edward’s University – Austin, Texas.

Areas of practice: Probate, Guardianship, Trust, Estate Planning, Elder Law and litigation in these areas. I have also completed my training, pro bono work and observation sessions to become a licensed attorney mediator. I expect to be licensed within the next few weeks and am eager to build a mediation practice.

Education: Univ. of Texas at Arlington (B.A. 1983); Southern Methodist University (J.D. 1989).

Culinary talent:  I am a whiz at turning on the microwave.

Hobbies: Reading, writing, and I’m learning to play guitar. Unfortunately, I am about as good at playing guitar as I am at cooking.

Most important career lesson:  Learn to say “no.”

Favorite quote: (I am a lover of Mark Twain)  “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  

Pet peeve: spitting – or not waiting your turn in traffic. It’s probably the same people doing both.

Favorite TV program: Mad Men.

The last movie I saw: The Help.

Favorite food: Mexican food.

Favorite restaurant: Benitos.

If I had more time, I would: Take a nap. Get a massage. Travel.

Best thing about being a lawyer: Helping people and having something to talk about at parties.

If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? God. If that’s too sacrilegious, then Queen Elizabeth – the original one, on one of the days she bathed.

If you weren't an attorney, what profession do you think you would be in?  I would love to be a writer - a talented writer. I would also love to design wedding gowns (how random is that?).

Community Involvement: Sustaining member and Community Advisor for the Junior League of Fort Worth, Inc., member of fundraising committee for Warrior Support program of Mental Health Association of Tarrant County, member of nominating committee for Camp Fire USA, Tarrant County, member of Elder Law Committee of Tarrant County Bar Association, frequent lecturer on probate, elder law and non-profit risk issues.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? One of the biggest challenges we face as a profession is earning back the respect of the public, our peers and even the judiciary. Lack of respect for our profession is not new, even Shakespeare hated lawyers. However, now it seems that for each and every problem in society, the cause is a lawyer. 

I became a lawyer because I thought it was an important and worthy profession and I believed in our judicial system and constitution. I wanted to be like Atticus Finch, fighting for what was right. Instead, I feel pressure to be more like a mercenary – fighting for profit regardless of the cause. I believe that we have the challenge of practicing law in a way that earns respect. I believe we each need to live by the Golden Rule and to set personal boundaries of what we are and are not willing to do to make a dollar. I want to be proud of my profession and I want to feel the love. 

What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? I remember typing on IBM Selectric typewriters and using carbon paper, having to take a class to learn word processing because it was all in codes, switching from MSDOS to Windows and hating it because it took longer to use a mouse than to type the command.

I was the only lawyer in my firm for years to have a computer in my office. Computer research was new when I was in law school. I actually prefer the books. Since I’ve been in practice the internet has become something more than a play toy. Basically, everything is smaller, faster, brighter and obsolete before it leaves the box. 

Technology has completely changed the practice of law, but it comes with a price. We have now become dependent on our technology as opposed to it being a useful tool. People now expect things to be done in an instant. If you do not respond to an e-mail or phone call in a matter of minutes, people lose patience. Even worse, we carry our office around with us, usually glued to our palm. We never get away from constant contact with staff and clients. The loss of down time takes a huge toll on us physically and mentally, not to mention the toll it takes on our interpersonal relationships. We need to learn how to use the time that technology gives back to us for something other than churning out more work.

How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? I would like to see it continue to grow and thrive, but I am unsure what effect the economy will have. Will there be more lawyers because college graduates cannot get jobs, so they go to law school?  If so, what will that do to the rest of us and our practices? Are there sufficient clients to go around? Will we have to get more creative in the way we market ourselves and bill for our services? Will we see more boutique firms as opposed to large, full service firms?  Will the solo practitioner be a thing of the past or the new thing?  It will be very interesting to see how the profession weathers the storm.

Chandler is a solo practitioner in Ft. Worth.

You can also view Chandler's TexasBar.com profile.


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