December 07, 2018
Click here to read the interview
Taylor Porter Managing Partner Bob Barton was featured in the Baton Rouge Business Report "Executive Spotlight" Q&A in the Dec. 4 publication. On Oct. 1, Barton was elected the Managing Partner at Taylor Porter, succeeding Skip Philips, whose term concluded after holding the position for eight years.
Practicing law since 1994, Barton’s practice is varied, consisting of representation of local and national businesses in matters involving commercial litigation and transactions, regulatory and compliance matters, and general litigation. He is the co-chair of the firm's Business and Commercial Litigation practice. Barton has been selected for inclusion in both Louisiana Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in Business Litigation. He has lectured to lawyers, law students, and business groups on various topics related to his practice areas. He is an adjunct professor of law at Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where he teaches a course on Sports Law.
Below is the full Q&A with Barton:
Position: Managing Partner
Company: Taylor Porter
Family: Wife, Kellie, and three children: Sam (21), Kate (20) and Anne (17)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Education: Undergraduate at LSU; J.D. and MBA from University of Georgia
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was the biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first real job was working in the paint shop/yard at Nichols Construction in the summer of 1986. My biggest takeaways were that it was nice to have a little spending money; there is value and satisfaction in a hard day’s work and in getting a job completed; and that working all day in the Louisiana summer heat is brutal.
At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue a legal career, what appealed to you about the field and what keeps you passionate about your profession?
My grandmother always told me that I would be a lawyer and politician. I was fairly certain when I entered LSU as a freshman that I wanted to go to law school. I decided as I was applying to law schools that I might want to get my MBA as well, in case lawyering was not what I thought. The lawyers that I knew from my childhood and young adult life were people who I looked up to—they were smart and seemed to enjoy what they were doing. I’ve enjoyed my practice immensely. I have had the privilege of working with some great lawyers at Taylor Porter and other firms, and I have had some great mentors along the way. Many of my clients are also close friends. I enjoy working with them, and I am honored that they trust me as a counselor and lawyer. My passion for work has been in helping those clients and friends with issues that are difficult and critical to their businesses, hopefully in a way that has achieved a successful resolution in a professional manner.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I am usually up by 6:30 a.m. and in the office before 8 a.m. My first chore every morning is feeding dogs and the cat, and they never let me forget to do that. With our youngest now driving herself to school, Kellie and I get to spend a few minutes together over coffee before we both head off to work.
In September, you were named managing partner at Taylor Porter, succeeding Skip Philips. How has your role changed with the transition and what are you most excited about in your new position?
I am still practicing law and serving my clients, but have had to delegate some of that work as my administrative and leadership responsibilities have increased. Skip and I have used the last year in a planned transition, which has been an invaluable process and period. We have a great history at Taylor Porter and a great group of lawyers and other valuable employees. I think the most exciting thing to me about this job is the opportunity to be more directly involved in the firm’s client and community relationships and endeavors.
What’s something about your job that might surprise people?
That 75 lawyers actually get along and usually follow directions.
You have been practicing law since 1994 and you are also co-chair of the firm’s Business and Commercial Litigation practice. What are some of the most common legal issues your commercial clients are currently facing?
A consistent commercial issue that I see concerns the understandable efforts of a business entity to attract and retain high performing employees. The legal disputes that result when employees leave one employer to form or work for a competing company are often contentious and complex, and are usually personal to the involved parties.
You also have practiced quite a bit in sports law and you’re an adjunct law professor at LSU who teaches a course on sports law. What are some of the biggest issues in sports law these days?
It’s an interesting time to be teaching sports law, with changes and developments occurring weekly. That can make the practice area a little challenging. The issues garnering the most attention right now are: 1) whether college student-athletes should be able to receive compensation beyond the traditional athletic scholarship or grant-in-aid for their services as an athlete and/or for appropriation of their name, image and likeness, with proposals ranging from extra benefits that are tied to education all the way to an “open market” with each student-athlete free to negotiate his or her own deal with a university; 2) a related issue is whether student-athletes should be treated under law as employees, with the right to unionize; 3) the expansion of sports gambling and daily fantasy sports; and 4) the deteriorating labor relationship between the NFL and NFLPA, including disputes over commissioner authority in disciplinary matters, player protests during the national anthem, and revenue sharing, which will all come to a head as the current collective bargaining agreement sets to expire in 2021.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
I was scared to death when I returned to Louisiana and began to study for the bar exam. There were a whole lot of legal jargon, concepts and Latin phrases that I had definitely not learned in Georgia. Thankfully, a couple of friends from high school were taking the bar exam at the same time and had formed a study group with some other really smart LSU Law graduates. I talked my way into their study group (thanks ladies! You know who you are) and managed to pass. That was not a fun summer, but I learned a whole lot of Louisiana law in a short time.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
Sometimes you just have to say no.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
Travel with my family to the beach or mountains, read, golf, duck hunt, racquetball, music and LSU sports.
Tell us about some of your volunteer efforts in the community and why you support those causes/organizations.
I am the chair-elect of the Board of Hope Ministries. Hope Ministries is an organization I was first introduced to when I was volunteering as the chairman of community development for the Capital Area United Way. The organization impressed me then and now as one that was efficient and effective, even though it is not as large or well-known as some other nonprofits in the area. It is a “boots on the ground” operation headquartered in the 70805 ZIP code, which is also where most of its clientele live. Hope Ministries’ mission is to prevent homelessness and promote self-sufficiency, and while its programs provide great initial assistance to give stability to our community’s citizens in need, the real focus of the programs is on providing clients with the knowledge and support necessary for sustained self-sufficiency. It is a mission and model that can effect permanent change, and Hope Ministries has a great team dedicated to that mission.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are we going and what do you recommend I order?
There are so many good choices in Baton Rouge. One of my regular places is Digiulio Brothers. I’d recommend the veal avezzano or the speckled trout. Save room for some red velvet cake.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
Smartest: my wife’s wedding ring Dumbest: two condominiums I bought with three friends. We sold them seven years later at half of our investment. Why did I answer my phone that day? (thanks guys! You know who you are).
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
I have had quite a few including my parents and high school teachers and coaches, and several at Taylor Porter. One that sticks out is Skip Philips. I was fortunate as a young lawyer to work with Skip on several large commercial cases that went to trial. He was always prepared and handled himself professionally, no matter how high the stakes or heated the dispute. I have worked more recently with Skip on firm management and leadership initiatives. I hope that I have learned from Skip to not make a heated or reactive decision, but to always take the time to gather myself and make an informed and considered decision.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
Learn to play a guitar.