Not many law firms can say they’ve survived for 150 years, but that’s the story at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. It started in Eyton, Ala., in 1870, moved to Birmingham a few years later and now has 10 offices, including Charlotte, where it employs 34 attorneys and 20 other staffers. Chris Lam, who is the managing partner of the Charlotte office, discussed the firm’s expansion to North Carolina in comments edited for clarity He’s a Southern Pines native with a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill. Lam is also current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association.
What prompted the Charlotte office to open in 2004?
“Our firm’s board helps implement strategic plans voted on by our partnership and they identified Charlotte as a place we needed to be. The office started with a small construction law specialty. We quickly added financial services, which made sense given the important role of that industry in Charlotte. We’re very proud of our construction group which has been recognized as the best construction law firm in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in two of the last three years.”
It sounds like it has worked out?
“Bradley was one of the earliest firms from outside North Carolina to have opened an office here. Unlike several others, we’ve remained, prospered and grown. And after 16 years here, Charlotte remains a priority, which is demonstrated by our recent growth. Our newest practice is cybersecurity and privacy, which is an important growth area in Charlotte. We have some of the few board-certified lawyers in Charlotte in that specialty.
“Some firms that tried to enter Charlotte and weren’t successful had a very narrow focus. We work with the major financial institutions and they are important clients to us, but we also enjoy working with the diversity of the business community.”
What prompted you to join Bradley?
“I joined almost four years ago, in April 2016, along with five other people. My practice focuses on business litigation and includes contract disputes, trade secrets, noncompete agreement and other matters. It has been a tremendous move professionally and it’s exciting to be part of an office that is in a growth mode. There is a lot of energy and motivation to continue to expand with the clients whom we service. There are not a lot of folks biding their time here.”
How did your firm achieve its size?
“Our largest merger involved Bradley Arant Rose & White in Birmingham and Boult Cummings in Nashville in 2009. That was a significant development. Nashville is the second largest office and it’s a dynamic city that has the core of our health care group.”
“I think 500 lawyers is a great size. I’ve practiced in a much larger firm, but we still have experts in virtually every area of law and it’s a more manageable universe of lawyers. Our geography spreads from Washington D.C. to Florida and Texas. We’ve got the resources and expertise to be able to represent our clients wherever they are but we are still nimble enough to be strategic.”
Tell us about your community leadership role.
“My term as Mecklenburg County Bar chairman ends in June. We have 5,500 lawyers in Charlotte and the chairman’s mission is to be a champion for Bar programs initiatives, continuing education and trying to be a liaison between the bar and state and federal benches.”