Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 13, 2022

From runner to partner: Greeneā€™s journey with Miller & Martin


Miller & Martin attorney Zac Greene can remember the first assignment he received while under the employ of the firm.

It didn’t involve representing a corporation in a business dispute or defending an individual in a white-collar criminal case, both of which fill his time today.

Rather, Greene was tasked with transporting a package to another local law firm – a job he completed on foot.

The assignment would be below his paygrade today but it wasn’t then. Before Greene became a partner at Miller & Martin, before the firm hired him as an associate and before he spent two summers interning at the practice while in law school, he worked as its runner.

“It was a great job for a college student,” says Greene, 42. “I spent most of the day outside.”

That was a simpler time in Greene’s life. A native of Chattanooga and a fan of history, he grew up spending hours wandering through local battlefields, replaying the skirmishes that took place there in his mind.

Greene also developed a fascination with the founding period of the U.S. and the Revolutionary War. He says his love of history sparked his interest in the law.

“It seemed like many of the people who had made things happen were lawyers. That made me want to become one.”

After graduating from UTC with an undergraduate degree in political science, Greene packed his bags and headed to Ole Miss Law, eager to experience a big university environment but not wanting to move too far from home.

“It was either go to law school or deliver pizzas for a living,” he jokes.

Greene’s coursework at Ole Miss steered him toward corporate law, and as he envisioned his future, he saw himself in courtrooms representing businesses in civil cases.

Upon returning to Chattanooga in 2005 and settling in at Miller & Martin, that’s what Greene began doing – most of the time.

Greene also assisted Miller & Martin senior partner Roger Dickson on several white-collar criminal defense cases. As an enthusiastic student of the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law, he enjoyed the work and found it challenged him in ways business litigation didn’t.

“White-collar criminal defense cases engaged the creative side of my brain, whereas my corporate work was more analytical,” Greene says. “I enjoy that diversity. I can jump from one kind of case to the other and give one side of my brain a rest.”

Greene did well enough on the white-collar criminal cases that Dickson continued to funnel work his way. Eventually, he began to develop a practice of his own.

He says his most significant work in white collar criminal defense to date was his representation of one of the defendants in the Pilot Flying J federal fraud case.

The matter dates back to 2012, when the FBI learned Pilot Flying J sales employees were running a fuel-rebate scam that wronged trucking companies, according to an article on the Heavy Duty Trucking website (www.truckinginfo.com). The Pilot Flying J sales staff promised the companies specific amounts in rebates but later reduced the amount to increase profits.

Over the course of several years, Pilot Flying J defrauded as many as 5,500 customers of more than $56 million in unpaid rebates, reports HDT.

Greene says the five years he spent working on the case taxed both sides of his brain.

“The case produced hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, which we had to piece together to tell the story,” he recalls. “A large part of the case involved figuring out what the documents said, how the government was going to use them and how we could use them in our favor.”

Greene dove deep into the pile, doing virtually no other legal work during his time on the case. After five years and several appearances in court, he was able to secure what he says was “a good result” for his client – 30 months in prison. (Greene claims his client, whom he declines to name, faced significantly more time behind bars.)

“The stakes are much higher and the pressure far greater on a white-collar criminal defense case,” he adds. “You do your best every day because you know what the end of the road looks like for your client.”

Greene says his work on the Pilot Flying J case taught him the value of collegiality in the legal profession.

“It’s important to be collegial with opposing counsel,” he notes. “Your job is to get the best result you can for your client, which you can’t do when you’re being obstinate, especially in a matter as contentious as the Pilot Flying J case.”

Greene’s legal experience also includes guiding clients through interactions with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency.

As such, he’s represented clients in prosecutions charging mail fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, immigration violations and public corruption, as well as in investigations involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, environmental regulations, nuclear power regulations and antitrust matters.

Greene’s civil practice is focused on business litigation in state and federal trial courts and courts of appeal.

It’s a tall order for Greene, but he still finds time to serve the legal profession as a member of the Chattanooga, Tennessee and American bar associations and the local Inn of Court.

Greene’s local involvement extends to several nonprofit organizations, including previously serving on the boards of Chattanooga Room in the Inn and First Tee of Chattanooga, an organization that teaches children life skills through golf.

Greene is currently one of the City of Chattanooga’s appointees to the board of the Finley Stadium Corporation.

In recognition of his achievements as an attorney, as well as his volunteer work, the American Bar Foundation recently named Greene to its society of Fellows.

At home, Greene is simply known as a husband and a father. He and wife Caitlin have been married 11 years and are raising two children: Harris, 9, and Grayson, 5.

Greene says his older son has become interested in golf, which creates bonding opportunities for them.

“My father taught me to play when I was 6. I still play whenever I can. It gives Harris and me something to do together.”

Greene also enjoys reading but confesses to not picking up as many history books as he once did.

“I’m constantly reading during the day, whether it’s a brief, a case, or an email, so the last thing I sometimes want to do on a Saturday morning is pick up a book.”

Given how many pages of history remain to be turned, perhaps Greene could give occasionally give both sides of his brain a rest and deliver a few packages instead. It would certainly return him to a simpler time.