Representation Profile - Lawrence C. Anderson

Welcome to the latest edition of HHK’s blog series dedicated to giving you up close and personal insight of the people behind our one hundred thirteen year old institution.  The individuals we profile here have dedicated themselves to continuing Hinman, Howard & Kattell’s motto … Achieving clients’ goals since 1901.

hm-attorneyslide3.jpgLawrence C. Anderson is the Assistant Managing Partner of Hinman, Howard & Kattell and is a member of HHK’s Corporate Law, General Business Representation and Commercial Real Estate and Financing.  He is also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.

Have you always known you wanted to be an attorney?

I really wasn’t sure I wanted to be an attorney until my junior year in college.  My father and grandfather were attorneys, but I didn’t want to necessarily follow in their footsteps, so I took time to explore my alternatives.  I was keeping all of my options open and I did consider a business career.  There wasn’t anything in particular that made me decide to pursue a legal career.  I just came to the realization of how involved attorneys are in every aspect of life – business and personal matters – and how whatever was happening it seemed like attorneys were always involved and I decided that I wanted to be part of that process.

My grandfather, Floyd Anderson, practiced law in Binghamton.  He practiced on his own, and then at one point he was with a firm named Chernin, Gold & Anderson.  He also served in the NY Senate before my dad. Then he got appointed to the bench as a Supreme Court Judge by Governor Dewey. The AndersonCenter at BinghamtonUniversity is named after him.

What are your ties to the community?

The Anderson family ties go way back.  My great grandfather lived in Johnson City and at one point he ran a general store in WhitneyPoint.  I can remember my grandfather telling me my great grandfather would take the train to WhitneyPoint every day, walk down street from the train station, open the store and at the end of day he would hop on train and travel back to Johnson City.  He was one of the original commuters.

Also one of our forefathers named David Ellerson earned some prestige as a Revolutionary War soldier.  After the war, he and a friend reportedly blazed the first trail from Cooperstown to Chenango Forks.  I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good story. My wife and I have lived in the Chenango Forks area for almost 40 years.  I think that is sort of interesting.

Your father was a well-known Senate majority leader for many years. What is something people do not know about him that you would like to share?

My father was a perfectionist and with the exception of his golf game, it showed in pretty much everything he did. His interest in politics really started when he was an undergrad student at Colgate.  I can remember him telling me he got involved in politics at Colgate – I can’t remember which campaign it was – but that is where his interest started.

He always had been peripherally involved in politics and then there was one of my grandfather’s senate campaigns which George Hinman and Billy Hill didn’t think was going quite like it should.  They didn’t think that my grandfather was doing as thorough a job for his reelection campaign as he should – in the late 1940s George was already very involved with the Broome County Republican party – so he approached my father and told him that he needed to help his dad with the election.  My father went out campaigning for my grandfather and he came to know all the Republican Committee people in the district and that built the foundation so that when he himself decided to run for office he already had a good base.

Are there any myths or stories you have heard about your father that are untrue?

There is one myth, which is also true.  My dad liked to play golf.  A friend of his, Amo Houghton from Corning Glass was a member of the Augusta National Country Club and he would on occasion invite my dad down to play golf.  If you are unfamiliar with Augusta National and the Masters, there is a tradition –when you win the Masters you are given a green jacket.  The same as are worn by the Club members. The thing many people don’t know is that you aren’t allowed to take the green jacket off the premises of Augusta.

Dad went down and stayed at Augusta and as he was unpacking, he opened the closet and hanging in the closet is one of the green member’s jackets.  He said to himself “I’m going to put this on” and apparently it was a good fit.  Dad goes to the mirror to look at himself and as he’s standing there he looks inside the lapel and embroidered inside the jacket is the name Warren M. Anderson. At that point dad has a Twilight Zone moment and he’s thinking “maybe I won the Masters”.  He then figured out that there was another Warren M. Anderson, who he also knew and who coincidently had also gone to Colgate – 2 years behind my dad.  What had happened was one of the employees at Augusta saw the name Warren M. Anderson on the guest list and hung the jacket in the closet.

There were other interesting things that happened by having 2 people with the same name.  The other Warren M. Anderson was chairman of Union Carbide Corporation and he was chairman at the time of the Bhopal Incident in India, where a Union Carbide plant had a malfunction. I believe it was industrial sabotage - and thousands of people were killed.  In an attempt to deal with the situation, the Union Carbide Chairman went to India to meet with authorities, make reparations, etc. and when he arrived in India, he was arrested.  This was a major story that made front page news.  What was interesting was that one of the papers - possibly the Chicago edition of the New York Times, when they picked up the story, they saw that Warren M. Anderson had been arrested in India and someone went to their news file and pulled out my Dad’s photograph and put it in the paper with the story.  I can remember my mother getting phone calls from her friends who had seen my Dad’s photo in the paper wanting to know what he had done to be arrested.

What areas did you practice in when you first started at the firm?

When I first came to the office we had a rotation program where you would spend three or four months in one department and then you would move to a different department.    I did Estates and Trusts, then I moved to Litigation, then I moved to Real Estate.  Those were the three basic areas I spent time in. It was after that when I started work on corporate and business matters.

What is your practice area now?

I practice in the areas Business and corporate, commercial real estate and I handle estate planning for a few clients.

Describe your first day (or year, or an early memorable day at the firm).

I can remember when I first arrived my office was on the south side of the sixth floor.  At that point we had Dictaphones, only the way they worked was there was a belt type of a device that you put in the machine and then record on it - like a tape.  When you were finished you would give that with whatever documents went with it to your secretary and then she would transcribe it, erase it and give it back to you.  When I first arrived we were still using carbon paper.  Obviously all research was done with books as we had no computers.  We had a paging system in the office - if you wanted to find someone there was a series of bells throughout the office and everyone was assigned a paging code.  I can remember mine was 1-2-3 gongs and then when you heard that you would call the front desk and find out what you were wanted for.

Why did you decide to stay in Binghamton?

Originally I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in Binghamton.  I looked in other parts of the state and country, but I think I realized what an unusual firm Hinman, Howard & Kattell was to have a firm of our size, with the types of challenges and matters brought before us, in a town the size of Binghamton.  It was very unusual and very appealing.  I’ve always wanted to live out in the country which is where Karen and I live and the idea of being able to have that kind of lifestyle yet still maintain a very challenging legal practice was very appealing.  And when I joined the firm we had a tradition of having some fabulous lawyers – which of course we still do – and there were so many great mentors like Morris Gitlitz, who was head of our Estates Department at the time, Charlie Fish, who was head of the Litigation group and Addy Keeler Sr.  Clayton Axtell was the one who brought me into the business law department.  He was very supportive and influential. It was just a wonderful bunch of lawyers.  That’s what attracted me to HH&K.

What was your first job?

My first job was as a guide at the New York World’s Fair.  That was 50 years ago this year.  That was the summer after I graduated from Binghamton Central.

What is the most significant change in the practice of law you have experienced from the time you started to now?

Technology has drastically changed the practice of law.

You are legal counsel to companies and assist them with operational, management, and strategic decisions. What advice do you have for a new attorney who wants to practice in the area of business law?

I don’t think it’s that much different than the advice I’d give an attorney in any area of practice.  I would say that probably the most important thing is to be a good listener when speaking with your client. The other thing that I would say is when you are researching or investigating a matter don’t make any assumptions.

You devote many hours to community service and serving as legal counsel to many local not for profit agencies.  When did you start getting involved in this type of work?

It started for me as a new associate. I was involved with the United Way Campaigns.  I was involved very early on with the Boys and Girls Club.

What motivates you to continue to devote your time to community service organizations?

I think all these organizations really make our community what it is.  They are so integral to the proper functioning of our community.  When you think about the function of these various not for profits – if they didn’t do it – the government would have to and we all know the government cannot do anything very efficiently so we are very indebted to all these organizations.

The time spent with these organizations is very rewarding.  Young attorneys should only be involved in the organizations that they have an interest in or are vested in in some way.  You meet a wonderful group of other volunteers in these organizations and it’s just an enjoyable association.

You went to undergrad at Colgate University. Why did you choose to attend Colgate?

There was a family tradition – I started going up to Colgate with my dad for football games in early 1950s so I’d always had an attraction to the school.  I liked everything about the school.  It was academically challenging and they had great athletic programs.  It was far enough away from home yet not too close.  Colgate offers a nice setting in Upstate NY.  They also had a ski slope on the campus, which at that point was very attractive.

You went to law school at Syracuse University.  Are you an S.U. fan?

I am an SU sports fan but my main loyalty is to Colgate.  I think for most people their number one loyalty is to their undergrad school.

How did you meet your wife?

I met my wife Karen skiing in Colorado.  I took a year off between undergrad school and law school and went to Colorado as a ski bum and she was doing the same thing.  She had graduated the same year from University of Arizona and she was working in a restaurant that I would go to on a regular basis.

What are your hobbies?

I like to ski.  I love fly fishing.  I play a little golf and I do some hunting. I am also a runner.

How long have you been a member of the YMCA?

I think I joined in 1972.

What are some traditions the firm has the firm kept since 1902 that you enjoy?

I think that we have always had a tradition of excellence and having our attorneys in positions of leadership at many different levels.

What is the most memorable concert you’ve been to?

I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Waikiki Bowl in the spring of 1969.

What is the most difficult part about being an attorney?

I think the most difficult part is time management.  I think practicing law is, in and of itself, enjoyable.  The stress really comes from having to deal with numerous deadlines.

What is the best part of being an attorney?

Attorneys are basically problem solvers.  Generally when people come to see us it is because they have a problem or a matter  they can’t deal with on their own.  I enjoy solving problems.

What makes you feel satisfied at the end of the day?

I guess it’s helping people solve those problems.

What’s the last book you read?

I’m almost finished with it – I’m just finishing up a work of historical fiction called Corelli’s Mandolin.  The story takes place in Greece during World War 2.  Before that I read Wilderness Warrior which is a biography on Theodore Roosevelt.  He was one of my childhood heroes.  The book is an accounting of basically everything he did in the establishment of the National Park System in the United States.

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