Conversation with a Leader

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 1:00am

Robert Holland serves as the managing member of the Miller & Martin PLLC Nashville office, concentrating his area of practice in real estate and corporate transactions. (The firm also has offices in Atlanta and Chattanooga.) On a local note, Holland serves as real estate counsel for the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency. A member of the Nashville, the Tennessee and the American bar associations, Holland is president of the Mary Queen of Angels Board of Trustees and a board member for Tennessee Special Olympics.

What was Miller & Martin's most significant court victory in 2005?

We represented the world's largest bottler of Coca-Cola beverages in labor and employment victories across the nation. We obtained defense verdicts on behalf of a number of clients in the health care industry. Lawyers in our commercial litigation department successfully handled a malicious prosecution case on behalf of a Nashville fulfillment company, obtaining a judgment for $4.2 million, including $3.5 million in punitive damages. Our products liability practice group successfully defended one of our clients, an international crane manufacturer, in which the plaintiff was seeking $10 million. Our lawyers persuaded that court to exclude the plaintiff's expert from testifying and to thereafter grant summary judgment on our client's behalf. The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to review an appeal filed on behalf of our client, a private airport security screening company. The issue is whether the company's employees have the right to collectively bargain given that federal screeners do not have such a right because of national security interests.

In what way has the Nashville legal community changed most dramatically since 2000?

The most significant change is the increase in the size of law firms, whether by organic growth or as a result of mergers with larger regional law firms. The bigger law firms continue to compete for more sophisticated legal work. It is imperative that these law firms provide a full array of legal services for their clients. The result is the need for more lawyers with different skill sets to provide the legal services that clients desire. Over the last five years, you have seen local firms grow significantly in their size, and you have seen mergers providing regional law firms with a presence in Nashville. I would not be surprised to see the merger trend continue.

What has been your main challenge in helping lead Miller & Martin?

There is a constant need for growth and expansion of services. Therefore, there is a constant need to hire bright and capable people who are willing to put our clients first. These hiring decisions, whether they be new or lateral hires, are always a challenge. You have to be certain that the lawyers that you are hiring have the necessary skills and work ethic to meet the demands of the legal business. You also need to try to make sure the persons you hire fit into the personality mix of your law firm.

How has rapidly changing technology affected your profession?

Technology is now prevalent throughout our profession and has improved and enhanced the presentation of evidence to judges and jurors. It has also created new avenues for lawyers to interact and communicate with their clients in a variety of ways. It obviously enables us to communicate with our clients in a more efficient manner. It also allows lawyers to communicate and work together much more efficiently. I think it is one of the reasons there has been so much merger activity because technology enables lawyers in different cities to work together efficiently.

What is the significance of your work with MDHA, and your take on eminent domain?

My work with MDHA is very rewarding. Most of the issues I deal with involve the city's redevelopment districts, and it's exciting to be involved in projects that, in essence, are taking place around our downtown office. I do think that eminent domain is a vital, but rarely used, tool that eliminates blight and brings about redevelopment.

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