What is your name?
Lansing “Lanse” Scriven. That’s Lanse with an “s”.
What is your current job?
Partner – Trenam Law, Tampa Florida.
What was your first job?
My very first job was working as an attendant at a Chevron gas station at age 16 (before the days of self-service gas stations). Growing up, I also worked as a one-man janitorial/clean out crew for my dad’s rental units in Jacksonville, Florida so I know a great deal about rolling up my sleeves. My first legal job was working as a law clerk for the Honorable Joseph Hatchett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit following law school.
How do you do your best work?
No question my most productive time is early in the morning before the phones start to ring. I usually wake up at 5:30, which means I have to retire for the evening by 10:30 p.m. I find that being able to have a reliable block of time early in the day of at least two hours helps me focus on difficult problems and prioritize my work day.
I’m married to Mary Scriven. She is actually the first girl I met (and I was the first guy she saw) on the campus of Duke University as a college freshmen in June 1980. She is now a United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa. We have four children (two boys, two girls). Our oldest is a successful post-.com entrepreneur who now lives in Atlanta. He is married to a wonderful talented pianist/business woman from Chicago. They’ve “given” us one really cute grandson, who bears my name, Lansing Patterson Scriven. Our second, a daughter, lives here in Tampa and, as my wife is fond of saying, is looking for herself everyplace but in the mirror. Our third, also a daughter, is a Duke graduate who is currently pursuing her Masters degree in women and gender studies at DePaul University. Our youngest, a son, is a high school senior.
Any tips for balancing work and family?
I’m not aware of any one-size- fits-all solution. I was blessed to have married my best friend so that certainly helps. If I were to offer one piece of advice, it would be that peace at home does not happen by itself and that it takes deliberate effort. Make appointments for that important aspect of your life just as you would schedule depositions and trial dates months in advance. Earlier in our marriage, my wife and I would schedule time to get away about 3 times a year (sometimes to just a local hotel). That was our dedicated time to reconnect and spend time with one another away from the stresses of work and young children. We kept notes from those getaways so we had a record of the things we committed to work on in our marriage.
Any funny stories or teachable moments from when you were a brand-new lawyer?
I remember a time when a big article was published about me in the local newspaper extolling my virtues as a leader. At the time, I had just been elected as the President of the Hillsborough County Bar Association. I recall waiting eagerly for the publication date. Early that morning, I ran straight out and I bought a large armful of the newspapers for delivery to family, friends and fans. Much to my horror, when I looked at the full-page spread of my imposing photo, I noticed that my fly was down!! It was somewhat camouflaged in my fancy pinstripe, but it was so embarrassingly apparent to me. I am not sure how the photographer missed it, but he did. It took me a full week to recover, and surprisingly most people did not notice — at least they did not say anything to me — which suggested to me in hindsight they probably just quickly glanced at the photo and tossed the article aside and went on about their day. Eventually, I had the photo touched up and hung it on the wall as a reminder to myself: Never take yourself too seriously and always check your fly!
Pet peeve or unprofessional behavior you have seen in the legal profession?
Generally a lack of professionalism. One of the hardest things for lawyers to grasp is that our clients’ problems are not our own, and that our clients seek us out for objective, well-reasoned advice. We are counselors as well as advocates. If we lose our objectivity, we become completely ineffective in at least half of what we have been retained to do and only half as effective as advocates. Our role is to assist our clients in finding solutions that best serve their interests, and opposing counsel’s role is to do the same for their clients. In fulfilling our roles to our clients, we must remember that we can be zealous advocates for our clients without being rude or intemperate to opposing counsel.
Favorite way for a young lawyer to get involved?
In terms of bar service, getting immersed in a local voluntary bar is a great way to get involved in the profession. Remember, you only have a limited number of hours in the day. Blend your avocation with your vocation. Choose a committee that really interests you (as opposed to one someone else thinks may interest you) and put your best energy into it. The same is true for other civic and community involvement. For instance, if you love the arts, find an organization or volunteer opportunity that allows you to contribute within that space. For years, I volunteered with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, which is one of the largest juried art festivals in the country. I did everything from pulling permits for the festival to space design and loved every minute of it. Ultimately, after years of service and working in the trenches, I became chair of the entire festival. An editorial piece that year described the festival as “the best ever.” That’s not a pat on the back to me, but simply to illustrate that when you do things you have a passion for “success” will follow.
Best advice for young lawyers?
First, it takes a lifetime to build a professional reputation but only a moment to lose it. No one will take much notice of the good you do, but when you make a lapse in judgment and treat others poorly, that will become who you are. Focus on being a person of good character, and your reputation will take care of itself. Second, remember that if you don’t have a definitive plan for professional improvement, you will become obsolete. It’s a wonderful thing to be a young lawyer, but remember that there are generations of young lawyers who will succeed you and who will be trained in the latest technologies and trends in the law. Lastly, maintain a respectful balance in your life . . . that means setting aside deliberate time for the things that are important to you outside of your professional career. For me, that means maintaining my spiritual and physical health. If you don’t set aside that time, you will feel as though you are in a perpetual state of imbalance.