Meet the Barrister – Peter Winterburn
A periodic Q & A session with a Lewis Thomason (LT) lawyer
Lewis Thomason: Tell us about a tough decision early in your career and how it helps you today.
Peter Winterburn: It seems that tough decisions are around every corner in this profession. I would come home from work and wonder aloud to my wife, almost daily, “Why am I still practicing law?” Now, however, I call her on the phone several times a day and ask her that.
Once when I was a young lawyer, I decided to stay in town one weekend and help with an “all hands on deck” effort at the office rather than go out-of-town on a trip with my family. That decision was hard, and it doesn’t really help me today. But I learned that I have an awesome wife who understands the demanding nature of my work and tries to help me and support me as much as she can.
Lewis Thomason: How have your goals changed over time?
Peter Winterburn: Over time, I have learned to give up on my biggest dreams. Playing on the PGA Tour, winning a World Series Poker bracelet, or understanding the Rule against Perpetuities. This has been really liberating.
Actually, producing quality legal work and winning results has always been the goal. But learning to manage cases and handle more responsibility directly with clients has allowed me to grow in recent years and focus on building a book of business.
Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite thing to do in Memphis?
Peter Winterburn: Go on a dinner and movie date with my wife; swim with my kids in the summer; play golf; play basketball; and take my kids to Grizzlies and Tiger basketball games.
Lewis Thomason: Describe your most memorable moment in a deposition or trial.
Peter Winterburn: There have been lots. I was defending a nursing home case several years ago. The Plaintiff’s lawyer was deposing a “bad apple” former employee who now lived in another state and had a criminal past. I had done some background investigation on her but she was unwilling to meet with me or talk to me prior to the deposition. She actually did a pretty good job until the end, when the Plaintiff’s lawyer started asking about her criminal background. At first she only mentioned some traffic tickets, but finally admitted that she was convicted of shoplifting and embezzlement. That much I knew. The Plaintiff’s lawyer asked if she had been arrested for anything else. “Murder,” she said, nonchalantly. She was not convicted, she explained matter-of-factly, because her husband had charged at her with a gun and she grabbed a knife off the counter and stabbed him in the chest, killing him. It was deemed self-defense. I listened in amazement, while wearing what I hope was a great poker face and pretending that I was not at all surprised.
Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite family vacation?
Peter Winterburn: The beaches of South Walton on Highway 30A in Florida – a/k/a The Redneck Riviera.
Lewis Thomason: What is the best way to stay motivated and complete goals?
Peter Winterburn: Take time to relax and unwind. Also, perfectly timed margaritas can really help.
Lewis Thomason: What is the best advice you ever received?
Peter Winterburn: Sweep the Leg.
Lewis Thomason: What’s the first thing you do after work?
Peter Winterburn: Pick up my 4 year old and give her a big hug and kiss (she’s the only one of my 3 kids who still yells “Daddy’s home!” and runs to the door to great me).
Lewis Thomason: When I was in high school, my friends would describe me as _______________.
Peter Winterburn: Screech from Saved by the Bell, except goofier.
Lewis Thomason: What is one thing on your bucket list and why?
Peter Winterburn: Golf in Scotland. Why? It’s Golf. And it’s Scotland. Also, I want to play at Augusta National. Sure, going as a spectator would be fine, but playing there is the dream.
Peter B. Winterburn is special counsel in the Memphis office of Lewis Thomason. He concentrates his practice in Long Term Care defense and medical malpractice defense litigation. Mr. Winterburn has represented physicians, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities in Tennessee and Mississippi throughout his career. He also maintains a general civil litigation practice that includes automobile and premises liability, legal malpractice, and appellate practice. Mr. Winterburn has routinely litigated cases in trial courts and through the appellate process involving medical malpractice, Tennessee’s Health Care Liability Act, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreements in the health care setting. He has also written Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreements and trained managers and health care providers on arbitration.