Attorney at Law Magazine Nashville Publisher Amy Dreiling sat down with Lela Hollabaugh to discuss her career and what she hopes to accomplish in the future.
AALM: When did you first know you wanted to become an attorney? What drew you to this career?
Hollabaugh: I knew I wanted to be an attorney in high school. My father was an attorney and I was interested in learning the law. My father was my legal “hero.” He was a tremendous advocate for his clients. He focused on being creative and practical in developing solutions to his clients’ legal issues. Also, he was a great teacher of other lawyers. I strive to emulate these qualities every day.
AALM: What experiences have taught you the most?
Hollabaugh: I have learned the most about other lawyers and myself from leadership roles in the profession and in my firm. Lawyers are very creative people and every day I am reminded how much we all have to learn from one another, whether young or old, seasoned or new to the practice. An open-minded lawyer is a great lawyer.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? How would you describe the culture of the firm?
Hollabaugh: I was asked by a close friend who had been with Bradley his whole career if I would be interested in joining the firm. the business opportunity that offer presented was unparalleled and the answer was easily, yes. Our firm culture is grounded in our firm values and focuses on excellence, teamwork and collegiality. It is fun to work hard with incredibly smart and nice people every day.
AALM: How has the legal community evolved most drastically over your career? Do you believe this to be a positive or a negative?
Hollabaugh: Technology has changed the practice most dramatically during my career. When I began, I did not type and did not have a computer. Now, I do both and am accessible 24 hours a day to our clients and to others in my office. While technology has its challenges, I think it has made the practice of law easier. Technology has also made the legal system more accessible to non-lawyers.
AALM: What flaws do you currently see in the legal landscape? What steps can lawyers and the legal community take to rectify them?
Hollabaugh: Access to the legal system continues to be a challenge for many people in our community. Our Supreme Court has done an excellent job of tackling this problem and continues to work to make our judicial system “open” to everyone. the Court is always looking for ideas and ways to improve how justice is delivered.
AALM: Looking back on your career, which case most impacted your practice?
Hollabaugh: My career was defined by the opportunity to try a case to a jury in the first few years of my practice. With that experience, I became a trial lawyer. Without that opportunity, I would not be where I am now or have the practice I have today.
AALM: Tell us the best compliment you’ve received or the funniest story from your career.
Hollabaugh: Recently, I was out of state in a hotel conference room with a client and numerous other lawyers preparing for an argument in court that was critically important to my client. Late in the day, I told the client I needed to take a walk outside to finalize my argument. His response was “I know. You do whatever you need to. You are one of the very best.” I smiled and did my very best.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future?
Hollabaugh: At the end of my career, I would hope people would say that I contributed to the profession and represented my clients with passion and integrity.
AALM: Thus far in your career, what are you most proud of accomplishing?
Hollabaugh: I am most proud of watching lawyers that I have mentored succeed with their careers. Knowing you played a small role in their success is very rewarding.
AALM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Hollabaugh: Many people have influenced my career, and I thank each one of them for all that they have done to lead the way.