Meet the Barrister – Paul Whitt
A periodic Q & A session with a Lewis Thomason (LT) lawyer
Lewis Thomason: What do you want your legacy to be?
Paul Whitt: That’s a difficult question to consider at this state of my career. However; at the end of the day, I hope that my peers simply say that I did things the right way.
Lewis Thomason: What is one thing on your bucket list and why?
Paul Whitt: Some sort of Mediterranean cruise or vacation. The scenery, the history and the food (of course) would be amazing.
Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite drink and why?
Paul Whitt: Coffee. I drink it first thing, every day, and throughout the day. I have become a semi-coffee snob, but most times I won’t turn down any type of coffee. My father is a strong advocate of good coffee. In recent years, he has made yearly trips to Ethiopia (which Wikipedia tells me is the birthplace of coffee), and has brought back fresh coffee directly from the factory. It is the best coffee I’ve had, and each year I increase the number of bags I have him pack into his suitcase for me on this return trip. Also, no cream or sugar – just straight black coffee is the only way to go.
Lewis Thomason: What’s the best lesson you ever learned?
Paul Whitt: I’ve learned my share of “lessons”, and as a PK (preacher’s kid) many of those lessons were learned the hard way. But a law practice related lesson, taught to me by Loy Waldrop, was to think outside the box for ways to resolve a case or gain an advantage in a case – which we like to call “flank attack.” Many times the factors that best influence decision makers aren’t directly related to the facts of the particular incident or claim, but often times deal with big picture issues for the litigants, or unexpected consequences of the litigants’ decisions or positions taken in the litigation. That’s where you can see a case flip almost instantly.
Lewis Thomason: What’s the first think you do after work?
Paul Whitt: Go home and see my wife (Courtney) and my 2 boys – and help manage the nightly rodeo. Those boys are an absolute mess. My wife comes from a family of all girls, and I often times feel sorry for her being stuck in a house of all boys. But she does a great job; even if she doesn’t understand that (most of the time) the boys’ fighting simply means they love each other.
Lewis Thomason: What do you do in your spare time?
Paul Whitt: I watch a lot of sports and spend time with my wife and the boys. I’m an avid sports fan. I love college football (I am from the South, after all), but I actually enjoy and follow college baseball as much as college football. I am a huge South Carolina Gamecocks Baseball fan. In the spring I will attend, watch, listen or follow via internet virtually every inning of every South Carolina Gamecocks baseball game. That adds up to about 60 games every season.
Lewis Thomason: When I was in high school my friends would describe me as _.
Paul Whitt: Shockingly to those around me now, a huge Tennessee fan. I even had a piece of Neyland Stadium in my room (and still have that packed away somewhere). I lived in Birmingham, AL during high school, but was raised in West Tennessee in a small town (Milan, TN – Go Bulldogs!) that produced several Tennessee players (Ernest Fields, John Fisher, George Kidd), so most people were Tennessee fans in my hometown. However, life took me to the University of South Carolina for law school, and I became afflicted as a Gamecocks fan. I used to remark that pulling for the Gamecocks is like pulling for the Cubs. I hope that remains true give the Cubs’ success this year, but there is always next year.
Lewis Thomason: What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
Paul Whitt: My iPhone, unfortunately. Enough said.
Lewis Thomason: If you had time for a new hobby or to learn a new skill, what would you choose and why?
Paul Whitt: Play the guitar. I’m a music fan, and have always wanted to be able to play the guitar. Many of my college buddies were great guitar players. I missed a great opportunity to learn from them before life got so busy.
Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite family vacation?
Paul Whitt: I love our yearly trip to the beach with our boys. We go to Sea Pines (Hilton Head, SC) each year. We intentionally stay a few blocks back from the beach (in the middle of the woods) and bike to and from the beach each day. The contrast in Sea Pines of dense forest (tons of live oaks and moss) and the beach makes that location unique.
Paul Whitt, a shareholder in the firm’s Knoxville office, practices in the areas of construction law and litigation, including professional liability defense of design professionals, such as engineers, architects and surveyors, as well as professional liability representation of accountants and lawyers. Mr. Whitt also has significant experience representing insurance carriers in first party actions brought by insureds related to coverage matters, claims of bad faith, insurance fraud and other extra-contractual matters, as well as experience in general civil litigation.