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Photo provided by BILL EVANS
Photo provided by BILL EVANS

Five Questions: Bill Evans

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Many attorneys are known to turn a phrase. Far fewer are known for their sleight of hand. Springfield tax and real estate attorney Bill Evans is one of the few. At a recent convention for the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Evans was named vice president for the nearly 12,000-member organization with representatives in 73 countries. A partner with Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown PC, Evans rekindled a childhood love for magic in law school, and still practices the craft daily.

Q: How does a tax attorney pick up magic tricks?
A: My Dad did a few simple magic tricks, and I used to go to a little magic shop when my parents would take a vacation in Florida. I got really involved with it as a kid and then basically dropped it for music. When I got to law school – at law school you read page after page on cases after cases – I went to the book store one day and saw a book on sleight of hand. I said, ‘Wow, that would be a great break for me.’ I’d study for a couple of hours and then take a 15- to 20-minute break and learn a card trick.

Q: How did you become involved in the International Brotherhood of Magicians?
A: I joined in 1977 … through my association with several professional magicians. Through Matt King – who has a long-running show at Harrah’s in Las Vegas – on a reference, I met David Sandy. He was looking for a lawyer to represent himself and Tom Mullica. (Mullica) does tomfoolery, a tribute to Red Skelton, in Branson. Sandy later became president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and he asked me when that happened if I’d become his legal adviser.

Q: Why are you taking on this role?
A: It was my turn, so to speak. I never sought the position. They asked me if I would move up the chairs. … At first, I decided I didn’t want to do that, but later on I decided it was my obligation to give something back.

Q: Have you ever performed any magic shows?
A: I used to do a lot of cocktail parties and walk-around magic. I used to teach continuing legal education for the Missouri Bar, and I would do magic effects as part of my presentation. … I would do a magic trick to get them interested because tax acts can be rather dry. Then I became involved with the M-Doc Band, which is a local band, and we do a lot of dates. I sort of gave up the cocktail party circuit, so to speak, but I still practice every day.

Q: How did you come into the mix at Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown?
A: I graduated in 1977 and went to St. Louis for a couple of years, and then I decided to get my Master of Laws in taxation (at Southern Methodist University). After that, I decided I’d rather move back to Springfield because I love the outdoors and there were 20 rivers within two hours’ drive that I could go float any time I wanted to. Then, John Carnahan and I joined forces in 1981.
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