Glankler Brown job too good to pass up for Jobe

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

July 18, 2013

Attorney Mark Jobe has recently started working as an associate withGlankler Brown PLLC.

The Memphis native grew up in Midtown, son of an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark Jobe, and the politically active Lora Jobe, who served on the Memphis City Schools board for 10 years beginning in the late 1990s.

Playing baseball throughout his time at White Station High School, Jobe landed a combination of academic and athletic scholarships to the University of Memphis, where he pitched for the baseball team and planned for courses in pre-med. It would be the labs, though, to get the best of him.

“I just realized that’s not where my interest was,” said Jobe, who wound up majoring in economics and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

For Jobe, even at a young age, the approach to education and career was to build a foundation.

Thinking fiscally, he chose Division I baseball over Division III because of the availability of scholarships. And when it came to post-graduate education, he looked at an MBA versus law school based upon “which one would lay a better foundation for my future.”

But in the end, he chose law . . . (read more)


For Pool, law career strikes right chord

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

July 11, 2013

Chances are good that you’ve seen attorney David Pool in action. Maybe not pacing the courtroom floor in front of a jury but in front of a raucous crowd at a late-night tavern. The in-house counsel for Drexel Chemical Co. came to the legal profession late, having been heavily involved in the local music scene with groups such as Pam and the Passions, and Carson & Pool.

Pool received a bachelor’s degree in commercial music with a concentration in jazz composition from the University of Memphis and then taught at Memphis Catholic, Central High School and Lausanne Collegiate School.

After seven years of teaching, he became a full-time professional musician, touring Europe, resort towns and with regular summer gigs in Destin, Fla.

Why give up nights on the beach club circuit for days in a law library? The idea was never far off, Pool’s father had been an attorney and Pool knew he could go to him with any questions.

“There were many times when he said, ‘You signed a contract? Let me look at it,’” Pool said. “But like any adult, you end up in situations with contracts or purchases … where you feel like you really got the raw end of the deal, so I frequently thought about going back to school.”

Couple the wisdom from his father with the fact that the music business is overrun with bad deals, and at 37 Pool found himself at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

“It was very demanding; every day I would think when I woke up, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” he said of being more than a decade older than the average law student. “It was a real eye-opener, the amount of effort and work and diligence you had to put into it.”

After graduating in 2008, Pool teamed with attorney David Ray for half a year before heading out on his own in general practice. He enjoyed working solo and soon found himself with more work than he’d expected. Being an older attorney when starting his practice, Pool had the advantage of a network already in place and referrals and clients came from the many people he’d met while performing live over the years. “I was so busy that I hired a secretary just to answer the phone,” he said . . . (read more)


The verdict is in

Feature story on the Rhodes College mock trial team for Rhodes Magazine

Summer 2013

Society has always had a fascination with the law and legal proceedings. It is the stuff of literature and theatre, the big screen as well as prime time television. Many dream of becoming a lawyer and protecting the poor and downtrodden from certain injustice, of becoming Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Jimmy Stewart′s Mr. Smith filibustering Congress, or Perry Mason calling a surprise witness at the last minute. But how many see that dream fulfilled? How many, in the parlance of the court, may approach the bench?

At Rhodes College, a select group of students learn what it might be like to sit in a paneled courtroom, to pace in front of a jury, and to “Object!” when the time is right. And they′re doing so in competition that puts them on a par with the best orators from the country′s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

While mock trial has long been used in law schools as a way to ready students for their careers, the high school program was only founded in 1983, at Drake University in Iowa. Two years later, the college game was created and with it the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). It was two years after that, in 1987, that Dr. Marcus Pohlmann, a professor of political science and new to Rhodes at the time, received a postcard asking if he had any students interested in participating. Not knowing just what it was, he laughs now, “I grabbed six kids out of my constitutional law class. We had one session with an attorney … and we went up to Iowa and competed in the national tournament.”

From that meager start has grown a program that regularly competes on a level with Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and Yale. And, more often than not, betters such schools. Says Pohlman, “We have arguably been, over time, the most successful mock trial program in the country.”

Award-Winning Track Record

Just this past spring, Rhodes had its best national tournament finish in 12 years as the A Team was national runner-up, winning its 24-team flight but losing to Florida State University in the championship round. Rhodes will be rated second in the nation when tournaments resume in the next school year. Three Rhodes students—Matthew Jehl ′13, Pauline Dyer ′13, and Matthew Niegos ′14—were named All-Americans. Jehl and Niegos received All-Amerian Attorney awards, while Dyer earned All-American Witness honors.

Each academic year, AMTA releases a case problem to be used by all competitors, and then releases case updates throughout the competition season. Some mock trial cases are taken from actual court cases, while others are written specifically for competition by contributors. During a trial there are three witnesses and three attorneys, opening statements, witness direct examinations and cross examinations, and closing arguments. Each aspect is timed and scoring is based on knowledge of the rules, ability to argue, and convincing portrayals. “It′s a very condensed version of a trial,” Pohlmann says, where “the plaintiff or prosecution is trying to meet a burden of proof with three witnesses in 25 minutes.”

Rhodes carries four teams. In a typical year, 50 hopefuls start out each fall with half returning from previous years and half being new. Those new to the program will start with Trial Procedures, a class born from mock trial and worth four credit hours. In-class trials are conducted as a way to evaluate students for the course as well as to try out possible competitors.

“As it usually plays out, of the new kids, the ones that just don′t enjoy it or that can sense that they′re not particularly good at it will opt out,” Pohlmann says. “It′s pretty rare that we actually cut somebody who wants to continue.”

By the middle of October, the class comes to an end, and those still standing are ready for the ensuing invitational season. Four “invitational teams” work through three invitational tournaments, followed by a reconstitution of those teams. The reconstituted “regional teams” then attend one last tune-up invitational tournament in January. In February, the AMTA competition begins with 24 Regional Tournaments, and, from those, only the top two of the four Rhodes teams can move on to qualify for the Opening Rounds Championship Series, which begins in March. Students still on the team in the spring will earn one credit hour, which can be repeated up to four times. “The most you can get in the time you′re here is two full course credits for all that work, so it is an extracurricular for the most part,” says Pohlmann.

Out of more than 500 teams from more than 350 universities and colleges that enter the AMTA competition, only 48 will advance to the National Championship Tournament. Rhodes has qualified for the national tournament every year for 27 years, including eight trips to the final round and four national championships. Rhodes is one of the only colleges with such a record, the rest being universities; the only school with more national championships is the University of Maryland. Such success and consistency is a direct reflection on the commitment of Rhodes.

“I feel like we′re funded well by the college so as to be competitive at the high end,” Pohlmann says. “And we′ve actually had some generous contributions from the parents of a couple of the kids that have competed for us. There has been some other private money that′s come through as well.” . . . (read more)


Clients, service take precedence at Harris Law Firm

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

July 4, 2013

Michael Harris of The Harris Law Firm PLLC has high praise for the Drake University Law School, where he earned his juris doctorate.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Harris said.

The 31-year-old Memphis native and Southside High School graduate attended Fisk University in Nashville to study biology, a major that lasted mere weeks, before switching over to political science.

The idea to enter law school, he said, “came so natural for me.”

In college he ran track and cross country, played saxophone in a jazz ensemble, participated in mock trial and had the good fortune to meet influential lawyers such as Richard Dickens, then-general counsel for Fisk and currently a sitting judge on the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

“He was such a mellow, kind, gentle spirit,” Harris said. “You had no idea that he was this powerhouse lawyer.”

Harris graduated from Drake in 2008 with his law degree and an MBA, and returned to Memphis where he worked for Memphis City Schools as labor relations administrator, managing contracts with labor unions, handling layoffs and employee discipline.

A year later he became a victim of the very system he was managing when he was laid off . . . (read more)


Dad hanging on, enjoying the ride with family tornado

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

July 4, 2013

Hanging on, enjoying the ride with family

We returned recently from a vacation in North Carolina where we rolled into Sapphire Valley pointing and shouting and laughing. My four kids gave the natural power of the waterfalls there a run for their money, roaring along with white water and swimming alongside the trout.

This family leaves the house in the HOV lane. On the road, we are a Bedouin caravan of one, the kids piled high with blankets and pillows for comfort despite the sub-Saharan temperatures outside. It is a force to contend with, this single-car parade rolling around town or through the state; our minivan appearing to have sprouted arms and legs and a voice box that knows no cruise control. We are a Tasmanian Devil in movement, whirling through our own Looney Tunes cartoon to wreak havoc upon the landscape.

On the beaches of Florida earlier last month we took up valuable gulf front real estate, spreading our blankets, chairs and towels as wide as necessary and building a walled castle to declare that spit of sand our own. Closer to home, we’ll unpack nylon chairs and eat up three parking spots at the Summer Twin Drive-In. We’re in your way at the Levitt Shell and, on the off chance we all end up at Kroger, it’s probably best if you just skip the aisle we’re on.

The drive-thru won’t work with so many orders being screamed at me, yet dining in means we wait for a table large enough to become vacant, though at a Waffle House in Ooltewah, Tenn., recently, we rearranged the furniture to meet our needs. We’ll use most of a waitress’ resources, her largest tray and all of her patience, but the gratuity from our ticket should keep her fed for a week.

It might take longer than necessary for us to leave the house — there are last-minute bathroom breaks, the brushing of hair, a lost shoe and uneaten snack — but once we do, it’s as though we’ve exited the driveway from a slingshot and are screaming into your neighborhood. From the back of the van there are arguments, impromptu concerts, shouted demands, strange smells and questions. Oh, the questions. They are as endless as the hours spent on I-40.

When we arrive at our destination, this clown car will empty into your lives for a period of sightseeing or dinner or a show, and for this I apologize in advance.

We move as a tornado moves: unpredictably and with force, itineraries altered at the slightest suggestion. A momentum is built up over time and its energy propels us forward, on to the next adventure, the next experience, the next question. Those of you with large families know the sensation; it’s one of falling, of running down a hill as your feet move ever quicker to keep up with your building speed.

These kids are growing and in need of constant nourishment and stimuli. They want to see what’s around the next corner and to know what’s after that, and sometimes it’s all I can do to hang on for life and try to enjoy the ride.


Tomlinson finds home with employment law

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

June 27, 2013

Courtney Tomlinson has known since the fifth grade that she wanted to be an attorney. Specifically, she had designs on being an environmental lawyer.

“I thought that meant I would be defending animals in court,” she laughs now.

These days she has the far more adult task of defending companies large and small as an employment attorney in the Memphis office of the national firm Fisher & Phillips LLP.

As a child, Tomlinson was a military brat and moved with her father and the Army from Germany to Illinois to South Carolina. She considers herself a native of St. Louis, however, and attended the University of Missouri at Columbia to study political science and history, graduating cum laude in 2005.

Law school found her at the University of Mississippi and it was during this time that she clerked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Office of Legal Counsel, the policy arm of the organization, in Washington where she discovered her love for employment law.

It was a strong foundation for Tomlinson, who worked directly for the assistant legal counsel, Peggy Mastroianni, and built strong connections while there. The EEOC recently came out with guidance on the use of criminal records in employment, something Tomlinson researched and helped form as an intern in 2008 . . . (read more)


Children jolt whole idea of peace cup of java

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

June 20, 2013

Children stir jolt of reality into midlife café dreams

I’m a fan of the show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” It boasts an elegant look and simple premise: Jerry Seinfeld and another comedian drive around in a nice car and then go for coffee. They talk, they share, they laugh; simple and funny.

What’s not so simple and funny? Kids in cars getting coffee. Though it sounds entertaining, children all hopped up on espressos and cappuccinos is more irritating than amusing. They run in circles, talk incessantly and eventually drop to the floor and quiver. People turn from their laptops to stare disapprovingly at such behavior.

The problem is that I love coffee shops. I love the café culture of sitting idly, reading and sipping a drink I didn’t make. I’ve spent loads of time at Otherlands, Bluff City Coffee, Poplar Perk’n, Republic Coffee and Café Eclectic. I have penned this very column over their brews.

And, to their credit, they’re all extremely kid- and family-friendly. So maybe it’s I who am not. I’ve found over the years that when you add a 2-, 3- or 6-year-old to the mix, what you get is a powerful concoction of caffeine, frothy milk and sugar spilled all over your book and the floor.

It’s not just sitting at a café table, either. The short ride there has become a time of disagreements and petty arguments. Being strapped in with seatbelts is not enough to keep them from picking at each other.

I’ve never seen Jerry Seinfeld with coffee on his pants. I’ve never seen him with any kids at all, come to think of it. He has three children of his own, but as the second season of his Web-only show begins, we’ve yet to see them. Neither does he drive a minivan with a busted side door and 100,000 miles on it, opting, instead, to chauffeur friends like Larry David and Alec Baldwin around in a 1970 Mercedes-Benz SL or a 1969 Jaguar E Type Series 2. You can’t even fit a car seat in those, which may be the point now that I think about it.

My life is not sitcom fodder; it’s real. In this reality I find myself attempting, more and more, to sneak out of the house alone. What does it say about me that my midlife crisis manifests itself in wanting a peaceful hour in a local coffee shop? There are no

dreams of a motorcycle or skydiving. My heart didn’t even leap at the sight of that sleek silver Jaguar rolling through Manhattan. What did Jerry Seinfeld long for during his crisis? He wanted to go get coffee with a friend. Maybe we’re not so different.

Don’t get me wrong: My kids have spent their fair share of time at Café Eclectic and Otherlands, but such outings aren’t as funny to me as they once were. We’ve turned a corner in my kids’ entertainment value, and there was an inviting coffee shop on that corner. They have reached the age of awareness, and they are aware now of white chocolate syrup, packets of raw sugar and doughnuts available all day.

You blend in that amount of sugar and caffeine with the normal, everyday insubordination and chatter I contend with, and not even Jerry Seinfeld could find the punch line.

Permanent link to The Commercial Appeal


Ebelhar finds rewards in move from classroom

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

June 20, 2013

Jay Ebelhar was recently elected shareholder of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC.

The Owensboro, Ky., native attended Bellarmine University in Louisville where he studied English and secondary education. He went on to teach high school English, public speaking and journalism. Though he enjoyed his time in front of the classroom, Ebelhar said, “I just didn’t love it, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my career.”

Though he admits he had never even considered the legal profession as an option, it was this career that would find him back in the classroom, but on the other side of the lectern. He went about his search for a career in a methodical way, studying what it was he thought were his strengths and what he would enjoy in a job – writing, research, public speaking – and all roads led to one point.

“The legal profession just seemed to be tailor-made for it,” he said.

His wife, Christy, a registered nurse, is from Memphis and he’d always enjoyed visits here, so he applied to the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.

“I really enjoyed it,” he says of his time as a later-in-life student. “It wasn’t as intimidating as it might have been if I’d come straight through from undergrad.”

He looked at the endeavor as a job itself and planned on staying all day whether he had a full load of classes or not, spending the downtime studying and doing research . . . (read more)


Cates wears multiple hats as litigator, prosecutor

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

June 13, 2013

Taylor Cates, attorney with Burch, Porter & Johnson PLLC, describes himself as “an adequate rhythm guitar player.”

It’s a skill that might not find him onstage at the Levitt Shell, but did help him with work at his first job out of the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1999. His interest helped him to “speak the language,” and he went to work for a firm in Nashville that specialized in entertainment litigation.

When, in 2003, he and wife, Carolyn, moved home to Memphis where Cates had grown up and attended Germantown High School, it was as new parents with a growing family. There was also a family connection of law and he took an office just down the hall from his father Tom Cates, and father-in-law Joel Porter, both attorneys at the old-guard law firm.

With his connection to the legal profession in his father, there was always some indication that Cates would go into the profession as well.

“That’s something that was helpful in showing me what it was like,” he said.

With a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia University, the course was an easy one to law school.

Cates says his bread and butter is in business litigation, but still works in entertainment and intellectual property law with referrals coming to him from the Memphis Music Foundation . . . (read more)


All That Jazz in the Land of the Blues

Feature story for Memphis Magazine

June 2013


At the turn of the nineteenth century, 359 miles due south of Memphis in a dance hall in a seedy section of New Orleans called Storyville, a man named Buddy Bolden stepped away from his band, wandered off stage-left, and took a solo on his cornet. We now call this improvisation — a breakthrough, that tangential and unteachable musical leap-of-faith that would become the foundation of “America’s indigenous art form.”

Bolden and his band, according to lore, are thought to have been the originators of the brassy stuff that would become “jazz,” a word of uncertain origins that seems to have evolved (believe it or not) among early twentieth-century California baseball writers who used it to describe players who were “lively.”

Lively the music certainly was. It blew through the polished horns soldiers brought back from the Spanish-American War as a mixture, a gumbo stew of African, Haitian, and Creole cooked up in a pot boiled on the fire first lit by John Philip Sousa.

“Throw everything together in the pit of society and something new and beautiful comes out of it,” says John Bass, executive director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College.

At the same time as this art form began to take shape, if not shortly before, sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, the children of slaves, were telling their own stories handed down through song and gospel, and put to music made with a six-string and upturned bucket. When mechanization began taking over the work of shoulder and back, and drought turned the mud to dust, the blues would work its way from those front porches that rose no higher than a cotton boll, up Highway 61 and into the big city called Memphis, and onto a street called Beale.

And thus did Memphis become the Home of the Blues, and rightly so. But on the way, it would have to squeeze out the music that first filled those clubs. W.C. Handy, a master of the new New Orleans “stuff” who had been steeped in the blues, came up the road from his hometown of Holly Springs, and did his part to give jazz a Memphis home, but that Delta music had a tenacious grip and let go begrudgingly. The sidemen playing his brassy rags after hours, late into the night, knew that the blues in Memphis paid their bills. It mixed with the smog of barbecue paste and dander from cotton bales along Cotton Row.

Jazz, so it happened, was the music I went after as I grew up in Memphis. I had to chase it down the way others had to seek to learn of foreign literature, the masters of art, or about seminal films. Jazz was everywhere as I was growing up, of course, in films as background scores, in commercials and in stock footage of Broadway or New York nightclub scenes on television. I had been to New Orleans where the notes seemed to rise from the cobbled streets of the Quarter with the steam from a new day. But alas, I grew up in Memphis and, while the nascent notes of a jazz combo might float past like springtime pollen, the Delta blues, Sun Studio  rock-and-roll, and Stax soul were in my face from childhood.

And rightly so. The blues are at home here, everywhere on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff. Home at all the places previously mentioned, as well at Hi and Royal and Ardent. Home with Jerry Lee Lewis. Home with Justin Timberlake.

But Memphis is also the home of Manassas High School.

Almost three decades after Buddy Bolden stepped into the “jazz” spotlight, Jimmie Lunceford came to Memphis after studying music at Fisk University in Nashville. He became the football coach, taught English, and without any established curriculum and without much more than a love of the “new” music and more than a little know-how, he created what would become the modern-day high-school music program in Memphis.

It was 1927, and Lunceford by now had put together the “Chickasaw Syncopators” from among his Manassas students, eventually taking that group on the road and to New York, into the Olympus of jazz venues — the Cotton Club in Harlem — where the Syncopators would displace Cab Calloway’s as the house band. Following Lunceford from the halls of Manassas were George Coleman (saxophone), Charles Lloyd (saxophone), Frank Strozier (saxophone), and Booker Little (trumpet). All later would play with Memphis jazz pianists Phineas Newborn Jr. and Harold Mabern.

But who are these men? What do their names mean to us as Memphians? These are names that don’t have much weight in the fast-forward pop culture of the twenty-first century. They count for little next to those of Elvis, Johnny, Carl, B.B., Otis, and Isaac.

But consider this: Glen Miller (surely his name still has some cachet!) once said of that former football coach from Manassas High: “Duke is great, Basie is remarkable, but Lunceford tops them both.”

Then consider this: Phineas Newborn Jr., who played piano behind B.B. King on Beale Street and with Willie Mitchell at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, has been placed in the pantheon of “Jazz Greats” alongside Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum.

Perhaps third time’s the charm: Miles Davis, whose album Kind of Blue is still considered, yes, the most influential jazz album of all time, put together a new band in 1963, and found himself with more than a little piece of Manassas.

From his 1989 autobiography Miles: “Before I left for New York, I had had tryouts for the band and that’s where I got all those Memphis musicians — Coleman, Strozier, and Mabern. (They had gone to school with the great young trumpet player Booker Little, who soon after this died of leukemia, and the pianist Phineas Newborn. I wonder what they were doing down there when all them guys came through that one school?)”
What were they doing? John Bass, whose Mike Curb Institute at Rhodes is dedicated to the research and archiving of Southern regional music, particularly in Memphis, has a theory: They were coming up through church. “You had people playing music in front of audiences from a very early age, and just getting used to the idea of getting up in front of people and playing and honing your skills at a young age,” he says.

In addition, there were the other places to play, the sin as yin to the church’s yang. Places like the Cotton Club in West Memphis, and streets like Lamar and Beale, presented the opportunity to play even at an early age. Charles Lloyd won an amateur competition at The Palace on Beale at the age of 10. (Lloyd told this story at a recent homecoming show at Rhodes last March, saying that Phineas Newborn Jr. approached him backstage after the awards presentation and said, “You need lessons bad.”)

Manassas High School would continue its tradition of music with Professor William Theodore McDaniel taking over as director after Lunceford and mentoring the Manassas Rhythm Bombers with other future successes such as Calvin Newborn Jr., Sonny Criss, and George Cowser. Director Matt Garrett led the band in the 1950s. His daughter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, would go on to become a successful jazz singer in her own right, fronting Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and winning a Tony Award for her role as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz on Broadway.

In the same year that Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton moved their fledgling recording studio into the old Capitol Theater on McLemore Ave. and christened it Stax, and smack in the middle of Elvis’ two-year stint in the Army, a group of Memphis musicians assembled to record an album. The first cut on the album Down Home Reunion, recorded on April 15, 1959, at Olmsted Studios in New York City by a band touting itself as “The Young Men From Memphis” — Booker Little, George Coleman, Charles Crosby, George Joyner, Louis Smith, Phineas Newborn Jr. and brother Calvin, and Frank Strozier — is titled “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.” And certainly they were not. It was a true reunion, many of the players having grown up and played together. That record — get yourself one when you can! — is a love letter of sorts for our hometown . . . (read more)