Meet The Barrister – Lynn Peterson
A periodic Q & A session with a Lewis Thomason (LT) lawyer
Lewis Thomason: What do you want your legacy to be?
Lynn Peterson: First and foremost I want to raise happy, self-confident (and self-sufficient) children who have deep roots here in Tennessee but are not afraid to follow their passions in life. I started the Blount County Youth Court Program three years ago and am now not only the President of that organization, but am President of Tennessee Youth Court Programs. I would like to see Youth Courts continue to grow across the State, and perhaps convince Knox County to establish a Youth Court.
Lewis Thomason: What is the one thing on your bucket list and why?
Lynn Peterson: I love to travel and want to go to Africa and New Zealand. Those countries, particularly Africa, have intrigued me since I was very young and I hope to one day see first-hand the wild life and geological wonders each country has to offer.
Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite drink and why?
Lynn Peterson: My favorite drink is beer, from a humble Budweiser to the great craft beers that are available virtually everywhere. My father brewed beer when I was growing up, and after doing yard work he would let me and my brother split a beer. To this day, for me, there is nothing more refreshing on a hot, summer day than a cold beer.
Lewis Thomason: What famous person to you admire and why?
Lynn Peterson: Benazir Bhutto. She was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and she helped move the country from a dictatorship to a democracy. More amazing is that she was the first female leader of Muslims. Bhutto worked to implement social reform, in particular to help women and the poor. She was murdered by terrorists in 2007 while working for her party at a public meeting. She was a courageous woman who I admire for her perseverance and selfless service to her country.
Lewis Thomason: What has been your greatest challenge as an attorney?
Lynn Peterson: I often find that I am challenged by my lack of patience. This is a profession that involves a lot of delay and “hurry up and wait.” I like to chart a course of action and move clearly and swiftly in that direction, but I find that between other lawyers, my clients, adjusters, and the courts that delay is inevitable and still after all these years it is something that I find aggravating.
Lewis Thomason: What motivates you?
Lynn Peterson: The talented, young attorneys that we bring into our practice are a constant source of motivation. Their intellect and drive makes me want to continue to keep up so I can mentor and discuss the finer points of procedure and law with them. There is nothing like a young person to motivate you to stay current, active, and on top of the issues of the day.
Lewis Thomason: What’s the best advice you ever received?
Lynn Peterson: The best advice I ever received was to listen more than I talk, and never forget who the client is in a case. That has served me well throughout my career. You learn little by talking and much by listening, and following up on what you hear. Doing insurance defense work it can be tempting to just answer to the adjusters assigned to the cases you handle, but I always reach out to clients, find out what they have to say, learn about their businesses, and how they would like to see lawsuits handled. Although we do this every day, lawsuits are very personal, even to the most seasoned businessman, and they want an input in the case and its ultimate resolution whether that is a trial or through settlement.
Lewis Thomason: What’s the best lesson you ever learned?
Lynn Peterson: You can never go wrong with kindness and honesty. Your reputation is built over your entire career, but it can be lost in an instant with just one misstatement or over aggressive tactic. Think about what you are doing, remember everyone has bad days, families, and challenges. Be tough when you need to, but be kind when you can – it will be remembered and repaid.
Lewis Thomason: What is the first thing you do after work?
Lynn Peterson: The first thing I do after work is sit down with my children and talk about their day, and often about what has been in the news that day. It may take place while I am cooking dinner or driving them to some activity, but I want to know what they did, whether they had a good day, and what is happening in their world, and I want them to know and be able to interpret what is happening in the world around them.
Lynn Peterson is Lewis Thomason shareholder and a Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator, practices primarily in the personal injury, workers’ compensation, insurance defense, malpractice, employment law and general litigation areas of law. Ms. Peterson has been a speaker at workers’ compensation and employment law seminars sponsored by lawyers as well as by employers. She has also participated in in-house training for large employers.