Meet the Barrister – Wally Irvin

A periodic Q & A session with a Lewis Thomason (LT) lawyer

Lewis Thomason: When I was in high school, my friends would describe me as ____?        Wally Irvin: According to the “Superlatives” page in my senior yearbook, it would be “Friendliest.”

Lewis Thomason: What was your first job and what did you learn from that experience?
Wally Irvin: Above-ground pool installer. My best friend’s dad was a high school science teacher, but he started a side-business when he graduated college. He kept it going by employing his students and then finally, his son and me. I learned hard work can be enjoyable when you are doing it with great people.

Lewis Thomason: My biggest “pet peeve” is ___.
Wally Irvin: Wow, just one? I keep an updated top-5 list, but the current number one is the improper use of the word “myself.” Really, a lot of improper writing/speech bothers me. My dad worked in public relations and tried to teach my sisters, brother and myself how to write and speak right; truly he did, so I tend to notice it a lot. Linda Glasgow is cringing somewhere as well.

Lewis Thomason: What is the last concert you went to?
Wally Irvin: I went to see my daughter Caroline sing with the Rutland Elementary School Choir’s Christmas concert. Prior to that, it was probably Lynyrd Skynyrd at Kingsport’s Fun Fest a few years ago. The best concert I went to was Eddie Vedder’s solo tour at the Orpheum in Memphis.

Lewis Thomason: What has been your greatest challenge as an attorney?
Wally Irvin: Marketing. Although I have been a construction lawyer my entire career, I have been a part of three firms, each with a slightly different primary client base. This required me to press the reset button on marketing efforts each time I changed firms. The construction industry is built on relationships and the same holds true with a construction party’s relationship with their attorney. Patience and persistence is key. Building a client base in the construction industry is a process, but there is a saying about that, right? Brick by brick….

Lewis Thomason: What motivates you?
Wally Irvin: The satisfaction that comes with a job well done. The facts are the facts, in life and in law. What I do with them is up to me. I am motivated by the desire to know at the end of whatever I am doing, I did my best.

Lewis Thomason: What’s the best advice you ever received?
Wally Irvin: Similar to my pet-peeve list, it is constantly changing. On the inspirational side of life, I would say it is “Serve God. Serve others.” When I focus on service, it makes me forget about a lot of the hiccups of life. Dealing with more practical matters, it would probably be, “Never ignore the small stuff, but don’t get lost in the weeds.”

Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite way to waste time?
Wally Irvin: I would not say it is a waste, but when I have spare time I enjoy spending it with my family, regardless of what we are doing.

Lewis Thomason: What is the best way to stay motivated and complete goals?
Wally Irvin: I try to view everything through a wide-angle lens and re-focus.  Any bump in the road is temporary. Calvin Coolidge once said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Perge! (Press on).

Wallace IrvinWallace Irvin, special counsel, is in Lewis Thomason’s Nashville office, where he focuses his practice on construction law with an emphasis on the representation of architects and engineers against professional liability allegations.  Mr. Irvin also represents contractors in a wide variety of business matters, including contract negotiations, project administration, closeout, construction defect defense and payment disputes, including the assertion and enforcement of mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens and performance and payment bond claims.  Additionally, Mr. Irvin advises contractors in administrative matters before the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors, Tennessee Occupational Health and Safety Administration (TOSHA) and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).  He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 listed Civil Mediator.


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