As I sit at my desk looking out my window on the 17th floor of The Financial Center and take in the beautiful views of Birmingham’s skyline, Lynn Park and Sloss Furnace in the distance; I reflect on my 20 years with Farris, Riley & Pitt. It has been an incredible journey to see our firm grow from where we began to where we are now.
I remember being at dinner one night with Kirby Farris, his wife and my husband, Barry. It was a typical Friday night that we had done many times. Kirby and my husband were college roommates and best friends. Kirby had just passed the Bar and announced that he had decided to “hang out his shingle” and see if he could start his own law practice. Barry and I had recently moved back to our hometown of Birmingham and I was a stay at home mom. My youngest son; however, was about to start four-year kindergarten. When Kirby said he would need help at his new firm, I jumped at the chance. Problem was, there was no money to pay me. I said, “No problem. I’m sure this will just be for a few weeks until you get on your feet and find someone with experience.” After all, what the heck did I know about working in a law office?
That first day was a blur. We had a tiny office in the Massey Building with hand-me-down furniture, an old phone system we inherited from the previous renter and $1,500 in the bank. I remember duck taping a leg of my desk together to keep it from falling on me. Kirby was fortunate enough to have some cases when we started the firm so he walked in the office on our first day ready to work. He was headed out the door to handle a meeting and handed me a file and said, “Ok Lisa, I’ll be back soon but in the meantime I need you to read over this file and find the doctor we need to depose and then set the deposition.” I, of course said, “No problem! Just one question, what is a deposition?”. And so it began…..
Those first few years I did it all – from receptionist to medical records to legal assistant to paralegal to accounting to my eventual title of Firm Administrator. This has allowed me to understand every process of a case that flows through our firm. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve seen clients, attorneys and co-workers come and go. I’ve seen incredible results for our clients. I’ve made lasting friendships and wonderful memories. I’ve grieved with parents that have lost their children and I watched as we laid to rest our Partner, Redding Pitt – one of those most distinguished men I’ve ever met. I’ve seen the amazing growth of our little firm from that tiny, run-down office to our beautiful offices atop the Financial Center overlooking our fair city.
The one thing that has remained steadfast over the last 20 years has been our firm’s commitment to delivering justice to our clients. That was our focus from day one and has remained our focus every single day since then. I have found that if you have a mission and a passion for that mission and you never waiver from what you are trying to accomplish, your journey will not only be rewarding but what you put into that journey will come back to you in so many ways.
I was sitting at breakfast a few mornings ago having coffee and watching the news when our firm’s commercial aired on a local channel. It was so surreal watching and listening to the promises that Ken Riley was making. Words that I knew he meant and promises I knew he would work tirelessly to fulfill. Working in an environment with that kind of integrity as a member of a team who has the same commitment to the end result is truly rewarding. That morning I sat and watched the end of our commercial as each member of Farris, Riley & Pitt faded into the shot. I thought back 20 years ago and how far we have come. And while our firm has grown; technology has improved; laws have changed and lives have been touched – the one thing that has not changed is the satisfaction I have had every single day for 20 years in knowing that something I did that day may have helped someone in need and changed a life. And for that, I will be forever grateful.