HEAD HONCHO: Randell Wallace leads 26 employees at Lathrop Gage, including eight other partners.
Day in the Life with Randell Wallace
Attorney Randell Wallace still is getting used to a fresh change as he enters his office on the bottom floor of the BKD LLP complex this sunny June day.
The day before, his law firm Lathrop & Gage LLP rebranded as Lathrop Gage. But it’s a move beyond dropping the ampersand and moving to new two-toned purple business cards and coffee mugs. The rebranding campaign by New York’s DeSantis Breindel emphasizes the services beyond what the Kansas City-based firm does well. In fact, a specific emphasis is on the word “beyond,” which Wallace says is fitting for the modernizing law firm.
“Based on client feedback, it’s ‘beyond,’” Wallace says of the rebranding that positions the firm as client advisers, too. “Clients are saying we go beyond what they expected. It all goes down to client service.”
After a bit of cardio and yoga, followed by local news over breakfast and a call to his mom while he drives to the office, Wallace arrives about 8 a.m. at 910 St. Louis St. Lathrop Gage takes up 80 percent of the first floor in the four-story building dominated by accounting powerhouse BKD. The partner in charge of Lathrop Gage’s Springfield office, Wallace leads 26, including eight other partners.
He starts the day checking emails – a noticeable theme of his day, as he says the majority of his corporate practice is conducted this way – before meeting at 9:15 a.m. with Madeline McCubbin, the office administrator. She goes over final details of the rebranding process, including interior signage changes. Exterior changes will come later. Sipping from a new Lathrop Gage coffee mug, Wallace takes a peek at a few concept photos he agrees will give the office a new panache.
“That’ll look good, I think,” he says.
They discuss the addition of dedicated information technology employees at the Springfield office, as well as the potential for a lateral – an employee from another law firm they’re hoping to recruit. Padding the office’s employment count is necessary given a busy legal season for the firm.
“Nothing else that’s burning right now?” he asks McCubbin at the close of the meeting. “Nope, just getting ready for my days off,” she answers.
At 9:30, Wallace walks around the L-shaped office to get up to speed with staff. As lead partner, he’s responsible for reporting to other senior partners and Kansas City executive staff the goings-on in Springfield. Faces familiar in the Springfield business and legal worlds, including Dwayne Fulk and Michael Textor, are busy at work as Wallace pops his head into their offices. Others, such as James Meadows, are at court.
As for Wallace, his practice rarely pulls him into court. He specializes in real estate transactions, and mergers and acquisitions.
“Everything is really done electronically,” he says, noting video conferences and other technologies have changed the profession the past decade.
At 10, Wallace meets with partners Textor and Joseph Reid. Textor, who focuses on construction litigation, and Reid, a product liability expert, discuss their heavy caseloads.
Wallace takes a reserved approach, leaning back in his chair and verbalizing the occasional “OK” as Textor and Reid explain their current situations.
Reid says new staff members under discussion would be beneficial.
“I take it that you’re busy?” Wallace asks, smiling.
“Slammed,” Textor responds. “We’ve got plenty to keep our people busy.”
At 10:30 in his office, Wallace takes his first call of the day. He uses a headset to avoid neck pain while attempting to confirm a 3 p.m. conference call later in the day.
An hour of contract work later, Wallace meets in the lobby with BKD Managing Partner John Wanamaker. They often eat lunch together downtown, but today there’s a luncheon at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for past directors.
“It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks,” says Wanamaker, who repeats the sentiment during his luncheon speech as chamber board chairman.
After some networking with the likes of Harmison & Pearman PC attorney Jerry Harmison Jr., Wallace eats from a buffet prepared by Infused Catering – Italian chicken is the main menu item – as he and around 80 others hear updates from chamber President Matt Morrow.
At 2 p.m., Wallace has a meeting with Lathrop Gage intellectual property attorneys James Jeffries and Joe Johnson.
“Out of this office, we do patent and trademark work all over the world,” Wallace explains. “It’s a full third of our law practice. A lot of people don’t realize they’ve got intellectual property they need to protect.”
Johnson says the firm currently conducts IP work in 155 countries.
At 3, Wallace holds the previously scheduled conference call with a local municipality kept under wraps because of attorney-client privilege.
“The city attorney agreed to my changes to the development agreement he had prepared, and we agreed upon an expedited schedule to get approval of the agreement from his city council,” Wallace says later of the meeting involving a medical clinic construction project.
Wallace finishes up at the office at 6 after an unplanned client meeting before connecting with his wife Carla downtown for appetizers. At home, he plans for a family trip and reads a bit of “The Lost City of Z” before turning in at 10:30.