Five Things I learned from a Great Lawyer

(advice for young lawyers (and everyone else))

Imagine being honored with a professional lifetime achievement award.  What a gift.

After you’ve processed what must be an overwhelming feeling of humility once you learn you’ve earned the award, you’ve got to prepare an acceptance speech worthy of the honor.  I enjoyed one this week we can all learn from.

Along life’s path, we continue to be reminded to listen and learn from those who went before us.  Sometimes that applies to those older than us, other times it’s those with more experience.  Even more special is when you find someone that fits both categories, but who is also a master of language and strategy.

Lifetime of Achievement in Law – One Regret

Tenacious and fair, tough and loyal are some of the words used during the toast to describe this year’s recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” Lifetime Achievement award winner, Lew Connor.   Practicing law for 56+ years, clearly Mr. Connor has earned wisdom and respect we can learn from.  His advice was simple, far reaching and impactful for those of us enjoying the event.

In wrapping up his acceptance remarks, Mr. Connor expressed one regret.  How can you regret anything in a life / career so successful?  Interestingly, his serves as a summary of the lessons he shared as the basis for his remarks.  His career has been so rewarding his only regret is his inability to go back and experience it all over again. Here are his observations. Intended for young lawyers but applicable to each of us:

Lessons from Experience

Lesson one. “Step away from the computer. It’s about relationships and people.”  Technology has changed how we work, especially in law. His counsel was for lawyers to focus on people and let technology experts support your needs.  Release your death grip on computers.  Spend time with people.

Lesson two.“Embrace the passion in everything you do”. Passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion”.  During the toast of Mr. Connor, his advocates told stories of the unapologetic energy and vigor poured into his work…which was likely because of lesson three. “Love what you do or get out”.   Simple in concept, difficult in practice.

What would you do if money was no object and you knew you wouldn’t fail?  If that’s not what you’re doing now, I’ll bet you don’t love what you do.  Do what you love. People will sense your passion and you will succeed.

Lesson four. “Give back to your community”.   Experts agree.  Feeling anxious or sad? Do something for others.  It will provide a sense of satisfaction, belonging and accomplishment while making your place… a better place.   Do good and you will do well.

Lesson five. “If you haven’t figured out how important your assistant, secretary or paralegal (professional “right arm”) is, you’re getting it wrong.”  We all have that special person we rely on to think for us, plan ahead, handle important matters and assist with life.  Professionally, this exceptional person can be a differentiator for you. If you don’t have them now, find them.  If you do, embrace and reward them.  It’s an investment that in the long run will be tough to outperform.

Congratulations Mr. Connor and well done sir. We thank you for the insights and advice and your contributions to the practice of law.

The Winners Are

And our congratulations to this years long list of hard hitting Best of the Bar honoree’s:

Randall Kinnard, Michele Johnson, Mark Ison, Jay Hardcastle, Anna Grizzle, Anne Sumpter Arney, Mandy Haynes Young, James Weaver, Gif Thornton, Brad Lampley, Gregory Smith, Joh Hollins, Matt Potempa, Harlan Dodson, Bill Penny, David Raybin, Cynthia Chappell,  Emily Zibart, Gulam Zade, Sheree Wright, Laura Smith, Jason Rogers, Donna Roberts, Mark Plotkin, Tracy Kane, Sherie Edwards, Patricia Eastwood, Jon Cooper, Kay Caudle, April Berman, Chris Whitson, Page Davidson, Chase Cole, Matthew Burnstein, Cindy Sellers, Bob Mendes, Emily Bowman, Cynthia Barnett, John Tishler & David Anthony.

Lew Connor is an award winning lawyer with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP in Nashville, TN.   For over 50 years, businesses in a variety of industries from healthcare to construction have turned to Lew Conner to resolve their complex legal disputes. Whether seeking his counsel in the role of trial lawyer, family law advisor, or mediator, clients know they will receive competent and candid advice from Lew. He can be reached at


Brian is the Chief Commercial Officer for Cicayda and attended the Best of the Bar event in Nashville June 2019.  Based in Franklin, TN, Cicayda uses people, innovation and technology to support the practice of law and its professionals in eDiscovery, Production, Litigation Hold and Compliance.  Brian can be reached at