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Best thing about being a lawyer: jury trials

If I had more time, I would: audit all the undergraduate and graduate classes I wanted to, for free.

The best piece of advice ever given to you and by whom: “Never give unsolicited advice.” – Elaine Taylor, my mother 

Born/Age: Temple, Texas, 1965/46 years old

Family: single mom to a 9-year-old son

Area of practice: criminal defense

Education: B.A., Economics & Finance, University of Texas at Dallas; J.D., SMU Dedman School of Law, 1992

Bet you didn’t know: that when I was in college, I worked for Jerry Clements (now head of litigation at Locke, Lord, Bissell) as a legal secretary. Jerry was the best woman boss a secretary could ever have. 

One other little known fact: I recently took a six-week cooking class and can now cook food that doesn’t kill anyone.  

Bad habit: cursing, sometimes like a sailor

What kind of car do you drive? a car that is paid for

Don’t: post anything on Facebook or anywhere else on the Internet that could hurt your client in front of a jury. The panel members will have googled you down to your blood type before you can even finish voir dire. Bragging about acquittals and dismissals on your website may get you clients, but it might also get your clients convicted. 

Am not good at: having a conniption when my young son fashions a toy gun out of tin foil in the school cafeteria.      

Community involvement: halting the further production of tin foil guns by volunteering at my son’s school cafeteria.

If I could be anyone for a day, I’d be: Kyle Bass.

Mentors/heroes: Mike McCollum, a Dallas criminal defense lawyer who also serves as Co-Director of the Criminal Clinic for SMU Dedman School of Law. I tried my first jury trial with him when I was a third-year law student; they broke the mold when they made Mike. The Honorable Judge Barbara Lynn, who was one of my supervising partners at Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, LLP, before I went on to go solo and make several typographical errors. Karen Hirschman and Bill Dawson, who patiently supervised me during my first year at Carrington, back when I was a trial-crazed baby lawyer. My former office partner, the Honorable Judge Tena Callahan, who had the courage and fortitude to make a ruling that was likely to, and in fact did, draw her an opponent in the general election (she still won).
Most important career lessons: (A) don’t ever, ever give Barbara Lynn anything with a typo in it, unless you have a death wish. (B) decline to represent any client who may face a jury and refuses to immediately delete (not deactivate, but delete) his Facebook page.

Pet peeve: arrogance in public servants, particularly judges. It’s abominable and inexcusable.  

Favorite books: Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis; Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen; Fortune’s Rocks, Anita Shreve; The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Favorite artist: Evelyn Niblo, from Abilene, Texas. Buy her paintings now, while you can still afford them.   

Favorite musician: JJ Cale is one of many.

Favorite magazine: The Economist

Where to be found on a Saturday night: with my son, on a date, or in the bath tub

Talents (besides law): singing karaoke with Tena Callahan and beating Barbara Lynn at poker at the Dallas Bench Bar Conference

Memorable vacation: Captiva

What most people don’t know about me: I’ve made a few seven-letter triple-word-score words in Scrabble, and I’ve got the Polaroids to prove it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing attorneys today? Social media, which has exacerbated our “used-car salesman” reputation. Unfortunately, it’s a reputation we too often deserve, based on the things I’ve seen posted by some lawyers on their websites and Facebook pages. 

Who is your favorite on-screen or literary attorney, and why? Matt Damon (“The Rainmaker”) because he acted like a real person instead of some priggish “now comes Mr. Begat Whom Begat, who shall not go hence without day” lawyer.

If you weren’t an attorney, what profession do you think you would (try to) be in? acting
What’s the turning point that made you decide to become an attorney? A speeding ticket for doing 93 in my mom’s old Buick wagon as I drove from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College to UNC. The visiting judge in Tiny Town, N.C. was going to throw the book at me until a kind prosecutor (and Hollins College graduate) intervened and got the case reset. All the while, I had no earthly idea what was going on. After that, I never walked into a courtroom clueless again. 

What has changed the most technologically or practice wise since you have been licensed? Technologically, the advent of “social media.” Practice wise, legal research is now computerized and affordable. (But I still love the smell of real books).

How do you think the practice will change in the next 15 years? Though I am but a lowly criminal defense lawyer, the big-firm business model will be rapidly changing, I do believe. Computer programs – with their sophisticated algorithms – are faster, cheaper and more accurate than any Harvard-schooled army of associates unleashed to review a warehouse full of documents. Major companies with complex litigation matters can now hire boutique firms and get the same, if not better, level of service – without paying for all the marble and glitzy granite. 


Leigh works at the Law Offices of Leigh Taylor Logan in Dallas.

You can also view Leigh’s profile.

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