He’s a familiar Nashville face, most often seen on any of his commercials, like “Speed Dating,” the lesser-known but no less enjoyable “Park Like a Nash-Villain” and the Nashville personality Bart Durham/Dr. Ming Wang mashup. (Peruse his entire library here.) But there’s more to Nashville personal injury lawyer Bart Durham than meets the eye. In this special Q&A, we posed the questions you likely wanted to ask. Get to know more about Bart Durham, his son Blair and his favorite Bart Durham Injury Law commercial.
ONE ON ONE WITH BART DURHAM
Where were you born and raised?
Born in Memphis, raised in Ripley, TN
How long have you been practicing law?
Almost 55 years
Where did you go to law school?
Almost three years at the University of Tennessee. I went into the Army and finished the last several months of law school at the night law school in Memphis. I drove back and forth from Ripley to Memphis.
What was it about personal injury law that was so compelling to you?
Up until the early ’90s, my law practice had several departments: bankruptcy, criminal, domestic and workers’ compensation personal injury (car accidents). It became clear that my personal injury practice was the most profitable, so I started to phase out the other areas of practice.
What’s the largest settlement you’ve ever had?
Each year, I have several multi-million-dollar settlements.
What’s the most memorable or satisfying case you’ve ever taken?
I was on the team with the justice department that tracked down and prosecuted James Earl Ray. Right after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, I went with FBI agents to the Lorraine Motel and investigated the scene.
Some of the domestic relations cases illustrated how emotionally involved people could be when it’s a loved one. Footnote: Almost all of the courtroom killings involved domestic cases.
What is it like to work with your son, Blair?
It’s great. I have a ton of pride for Blair in his development as a lawyer. I also get to relive my career through his career.
What is your favorite commercial you’ve made?
Heritage Spot. It is about growing up in my hometown of Ripley, and it documents the three generations of Durham lawyers. Blair states, “I wish granddad can see this,” and I respond with, “I think he can, son, I think he can.” The spot means a lot to me.
We have made hundreds of commercials over the last 20 years.
Do you enjoy filming your commercials?
It feels enjoyable once the shoot is over. It is a lot of work.
If you weren’t an attorney would you consider going into acting?
No. I was asked to audition at a local casting call for a movie shot in Nashville. I realized pretty quickly that acting is not for me.
What skills do you think you need to be a great personal injury lawyer?
Empathy, empathy, empathy. Strong work ethic.
Have you ever taken a case where you’ve had to get additional security?
No. There were many cases in the Attorney General’s office that required FBI involvement and security.
What is one thing about you that the general public would be shocked to know?
I have preached in Methodist churches in West Tennessee. I applied to the Vanderbilt Divinity School but did not get admitted.
If somebody gets into an accident, what’s the very first thing you should do?
If they are injured, seek medical help. If they seek medical help, hire a lawyer to help navigate the process.
To learn even more about Bart Durham, visit bartdurham.com.