Sparta to Memphis: Bruce McMullen Shares His Path to Success

by Baker Donelson

Diversity Matters Newsletter

Bruce McMullen is a shareholder in Baker Donelson's Memphis office and focuses his practice in health care law and commercial litigation. Over the years, Bruce has built a successful career, earning an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, and listings in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2009 and in Mid-South Super Lawyers. Bruce also has held board positions in various organizations, including the National Bar Association, Memphis Area Legal Service, and the Memphis Urban Debate League. He is a Fellow in the Memphis Bar Foundation. We recently talked with Bruce to find out how his past experiences, from growing up in a small town in Georgia to his work in the insurance industry, helped shape his career.

Q: You currently practice in Memphis, but have you always lived there?

A: No, I was born and raised in the small town of Sparta, Georgia. I went to college at the University of Georgia in Athens and I lived and worked in Macon, GA for five years. After college, I moved to Memphis after law school at the University of Tennessee and now consider it home.

Q: Who have been your biggest influences?

My parents who were teachers in my local school system. My mother was my first grade teacher, and from what I recall I enjoyed her class. My father taught my high school social studies class. I had heard most of the class lectures at home so I had a slight advantage over the other students. They were great parents.

Q: Did you have a career before law school?

A: After graduating from the University of Georgia, my first job was in the insurance industry. I worked in claims management for a large insurance company for five years and earned a MBA at Georgia College & University. My experience in claims and risk management was extremely valuable, and affirmed my longstanding desire to attend law school. I attended the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Initially I wanted to be a transactional lawyer, but once I was in law school advocacy became more and more appealing. UT had a new advocacy program which was extremely attractive to me. 

Q: What type of work did you first do as an attorney?

I started doing primarily insurance defense and medical malpractice. My earlier experiences in the insurance industry made that type of practice a perfect fit. At that time, many more cases went to trial, particularly medical malpractice cases, and that gave me an opportunity to get into the courtroom early in my career.  From the beginning, I pursued as much trial work as possible.  Because of the high exposure involved in many of the cases I handle today, few of them make it to trial. However, I do get back in trial about once a year and I love it. 

Q: What do you think has helped you to have such a successful career?

When I worked in the insurance industry, I dealt with lawyers on a regular basis and realized firsthand the frustration that clients often feel when their goals and their lawyer's goals were misaligned. Often clients want early resolution and to  limit exposure despite the lawyer's assurance that the case can be won. After having been on the receiving end of legal services, I try to consider the wishes of my clients by providing the types of services and information they want which is not always what we as lawyers consider important or relevant to our legal strategy. Lawyers generally think in terms of trial strategy not risk management.

Additionally, I grew up in a very opinionated family. My parents, four siblings and I had very diverse views on various issues and loved to discuss them. I learned early on to look at situations objectively and to consider all sides. It is amazing how useful this skill is in preparing a case for trial or anticipating challenges when trying to achieve a positive result for a client.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

I love to follow my kids' activities. My daughter, Zoe Marie, and son, Reese, are involved in everything! They are into basketball, football, soccer, piano, dance and theater, to name a few. They always manage to keep me and my wife busy.

Q: What advice do you have for lawyers who are just beginning their career?

Always remember that the practice of law is an apprenticeship occupation. Learn as much as you can from as many different lawyers as possible.  Also, seek out opportunities that allow you to grow and develop professionally – especially those that push you out of your comfort zone.  It is those experiences that will help distinguish your skill set, from others.

Finally, waste no experience. No matter how routine or mundane a task may seem, find something you can take away from it.  File it away in your head for a later time. You will be surprised how useful it will become in the future.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Baker Donelson | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Baker Donelson

Baker Donelson on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.