I first met Larry Graham almost 16 years ago, when he was a mid-level associate considering whether to start a new intellectual-property law firm. At that time, it appeared Larry was the intellectual and I was the back-alley street fighter. However, we found synergy in these potentially divergent personalities and soon discovered we could make a good team. We had a common trait: integrity matters. From there, Larry became a name partner in the firm now known as Lowe Graham Jones.
Larry is not the typical "litigator" as stereotyped in the media and throughout Hollywood. While it may seem trite, our profession should be a noble one, one where counsel's word should mean something. Larry takes that pledge of integrity and truthfulness to heart, even when no one is looking.
Though many litigators seem to be bulldogs who push the bounds of decorum, courtesy and ethics, Larry has no patience for these antics either. In his two decades as a lawyer, Larry has been subjected to the classic litigation tactics - sharp language, impeding discovery, false accusations and the like. "I don't understand this part of the practice," he laments. "I'm not perfect, but I act in good faith and I do my best to try to defuse these situations."
There was a matter where opposing counsel asked for a settlement offer in a lawsuit Larry knew was baseless. When Larry asked the opposing attorney to first explain how his client could possibly be liable, the opposing attorney replied, "You may get paid by the hour to perform that sort of analysis, but I don't, so I'm not going to."
Perhaps it goes with the territory, but that's not Larry's style. "I recognize the stakes are high and emotions run strong," he says, "but the lack of civility is the one thing about litigation that dampens my spirit." He frequently posts articles on his firm's website, and this excerpt fits him like a glove: "Legal skills coupled with professional behavior trumps aggressive tactics and harsh language every time."
This sense of professionalism extends to his business practices as well. His clients have not only praised his legal advice, but also the fairness and the value of those services. Years ago, when we were partners, we represented a client who had been sued in Florida and was facing a preliminary injunction hearing involving live witness testimony.
Larry and I traveled to Florida, met with the witnesses, prepared the evidence, handled the hearing and defeated the motion that sought to shut down our client's business. When the client complained that the bill was too high, Larry told the client to simply pay whatever amount the client thought was fair and we would write off the rest, no questions asked. That's the way Larry handles these things - he is fair to a fault.
...login to read the rest of this article.