Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 14, 2014

Son speaks of father’s influence in his practice of the law

Many things have enabled associate attorney Jeffrey Maddux to do what he’s doing today: An undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance from Lipscomb University, an MBA and a J.D. from the University of Memphis, and three internships led him in 2008 to Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, where he’s developing a commercial litigation practice. But as significant as those events were in molding his budding career, they did not have a hand in shaping the kind of lawyer he’s becoming.  Rather, Maddux cites his father, attorney Lee Maddux, as being especially influential in that regard.

“Growing up, I watched the way he treated people and how he interacted with his clients and opposing counsel,” he says. “Another thing that impressed me was how he never missed any of the events in which my brother or sister or I took part. As a kid, you don’t know how busy attorneys are, but he was always there at my Thursday night JV basketball games. That made a big impression on me.”

Jeffrey, now 33, says attending law school was in the back of his mind as he entered undergraduate school, but he initially chose to explore the medical field. “I had aspirations of being a dentist,” he says. “That lasted until it was time to take organic chemistry.”

Although Jeffrey was unsure about what else he might want to do, he switched to Economics and Finance. After graduating in 2003, he did an internship with Merrill Lynch in Brentwood, Tenn. While he enjoyed the work, he felt no strong pull to a career in the field he’d studied.

So, Jeffrey took some time to think, and while he thought, he coached soccer.

Soccer had been a big part of Jeffrey’s life growing up, and was a factor in his first going to Hampden-Sydney College, a Division III school in Virginia, and then Lipscomb University in Nashville. He was good enough on the field and smart enough in the classroom that he attended the latter on both an athletic and an academic scholarship.

“After college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I became my brother’s assistant coach at Lipscomb,” he says. “The school didn’t pay me, so I coached some club teams around town to fund that.”

Jeffrey’s nearly constant smile broadens. “That was fun. I was coaching soccer, living with my brother, and making just enough money to pay the minimal rent he was charging me.”

Although Jeffrey was having a good time, real life was pressing him forward, so he took the LSAT and the GMAT, packed his bags, and moved to Memphis, where he earned his law degree and his MBA in three short years at the University of Memphis.

“It was intense,” he says. “I took my law classes during the day and my business classes at night. Fortunately, the time management skills I’d learned playing sports in college came back to me.”

Jeffrey clerked at the law firm at which his father worked at the time, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, as well as a firm in Knoxville. When the time came for him to choose a final destination, he picked Chattanooga – the hometown of he and his wife, Emily.

“Chambliss had what I wanted in a firm,” he says. “They value the relationships you have with your colleagues and the staff, and they make sure you’re able to spend time with your family.”

Chambliss has suited Jeffrey well. Since joining the firm in 2008, he’s represented doctors, physician groups, and nursing homes in medical malpractice defense, and defended medical billing groups in complicated disputes. Businesses, lenders, and individuals have relied on his advice regarding federal and state law issues involving commercial litigation, the Uniform Commercial Code, business bankruptcies, consumer bankruptcies, and real estate.

Although Jeffrey has represented and assisted clients in state and federal courts in various jurisdictions, including Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and California, and represented clients in jury trials in Georgia and Pennsylvania, he’s quick to credit his success to the colleagues who gave him his real legal education.

“I’ve had some great mentors,” he says. “I was able to work with my dad for four years. Although he was in a different department, it was nice having someone I could ask the questions young attorneys have.”

Jeffrey says Chambliss lawyers Bruce Bailey, Hal North, and Steve Barham have also been tremendously helpful to him. “They give me a lot of responsibility, which has been good. Sometimes, you have to learn by being on the front line, but their doors have always been open to me.”

In addition to representing clients, Jeffrey is active in his community. He’s on the Cherokee Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Boyd-Buchanan School Alumni Board, and the Business Alumni Board at Lipscomb. He’s also the vice-president of the Young Lawyers Division of the Chattanooga Bar Association.

“Chambliss encourages us to be involved in the community,” he says. “It gets us out of the office and meeting the people who are going to be leading this city years from now.”

Jeffrey didn’t need to be convinced to volunteer his time, as his love for Chattanooga runs deep. “I left in 1999 and came back in 2008. During those years, the city changed. This is an exciting time to be here. On the business side of things, Chattanooga is on the cutting edge.”

Jeffrey is enjoying life in the Scenic City with his wife and their 16-month old baby girl, Madelyn. They live in North Chattanooga – Jeffrey says he can see Normal Park Elementary School from his house – and enjoy going to parks, hiking, and spending as much time together as mom and dad’s full-time jobs will allow.

While family time has cut into the hours Jeffrey can devote to playing adult league soccer, he’s not complaining. “Being a dad changes your priorities,” he says. “My family - my wife and my daughter – is the most important thing to me now.”

Jeffrey says his father has influenced his parenting as well as his choice of career. “I’m lucky to have the job I do because I want to be able to see my daughter at her events, like dad did with me.

“Also, I’m able to see [Emily] ... before I go to work in the morning and when I come home at night. She’s getting to the point where she knows I’m coming home, and she’ll get excited. That’s a lot of fun to see as I’m walking in.”

Jeffrey is glad to have a strong local support system, however, for the times when he and his wife need to work late or on a weekend. “It’s nice to have both sets of grandparents in town,” he says, smiling.

For recreation, Jeffrey is able to play some recreational soccer, though less than he used to. For that reason, he’s glad the competition isn’t as intense as it was in college. “It’s a great way to stay healthy and see a lot of people. We have a good time, but everyone realizes you have to go to work the next day,” he says.

One arena in which Jeffrey will remain competitive is in his practice. However, as his father, now an attorney at Adams and Reese, taught him, adversity does not preclude civility. “Dad taught me to treat my clients and opposing counsel the way I’d want to be treated,” he says. “You should represent your clients the best you can, but you should also be courteous and respectful to the people on the other side. You have your job to do, and they have theirs. This has made my practice more enjoyable.

“I hope people see my dad when I practice law.”