A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 20, 2008
Tall-Building Lawyer (TBL)

A “tall-building lawyer” is a lawyer who works in a tall building (or, in other words, a “city lawyer”). A “tall-building lawyer” (TBL) is a corporate lawyer and is the opposite of a “country lawyer.” A tall-building lawyer, for example, comes to court in a fancy rental car, wearing a suit; a country lawyer comes to court in a pickup, wearing jeans. The “tall-building lawyer” need not actually work in a tall building for the rural stereotype to be used.
The term “tall-building lawyer” dates from the 1990s and is popularly used in Northeast Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. A bigger insult in Northeast Texas (according to one citation below) is for someone to be called a “Dallas lawyer.”
Elliott & Little, attorneys (Conroe, TX)
Texas Injury And Malpractice Attorneys
At Elliott & Little, we personally understand the hardship placed on potential clients to negotiate downtown parking and traffic. While you are always welcome to visit our ADA approved office in Conroe, we are happy to accomodate your request to meet with us at the location of your choice, including your home. Unlike the “tall-building” lawyers, we understand that we work for you
Bain, Gunti, Mouser & Havner (Pine Bluff, Arkansas)
Since 1936, the people in southeast Arkansas have known they could count on the Baim Law Firm to represent people in business law. For us, that means representing small businesses. We do not represent big corporations, insurance companies or banks. That’s the job of the “tall building” lawyers. At the Baim Law Firm, we are “people lawyers.”
Picking Smallville to hang up a shingle
Journal Record, The (Oklahoma City),  Nov 29, 1996
by Leigh Jones Journal Record Staff Reporter
There’s a distinct difference between lawyers of his ilk, says Phelps, and “tall building lawyers” as he calls them. “It’s the sense of community—knowing who’s here that makes a difference.” Phelps says he misses the hustle of big-city life “not at all.” “My wife’s an hour and 15 minutes away from Collin Creek Mall in Plano, Texas,—it’s not a problem.” 
Oklahoma Bar Journal (July 8, 2000)
By Judge Lee Card
By Lisa Scottoline
544 pages; $25; $37.95 (CAN)
The world seems to be composed primarily of lawyers who feel the need to be mystery novelists. Some of them are better than others, and some have been wildly successful. Lisa Scottoline, a Philadelphia lawyer-turned-novelist, is pretty good.
Moment of Truth involves a Philadelphia tall-building lawyer who falsely confesses to the brutal murder of his wife in an attempt to cover for his teenaged daughter
Indefensible (March 2006)
Because before I could, my lawyer at the publishing house gets a call from some fancy media lawyer who is being all aggressive and trying to bully his way into taking the whole incident out. (And that’s not gonna happen) But I’ve already taken her name and all the identifying details out of it and so now I’m peeved that she’s trying to bully me and worse, that at the end of the day, something I did to be sweet, will come across as a victory for some hard blowing tall building lawyer with nary a leg to stand on. 
Austin (TX) American-Statesman
High-stakes patent lawsuits surge in small East Texas town
By Chuck Lindell
Sunday, April 16, 2006
MARSHALL — The closest major airport is in Louisiana. The most luxurious night`s sleep is in a roadside motel. And cell phone service is spotty.
The smart TBLs — “tall building lawyers” from out of town — partner with a Marshall law firm familiar with the local courtroom`s quirks and pitfalls. And like many locals, Erskine more than doubled his office space to handle the dozen lawyers and legal assistants needed to handle a major case.
New York (NY) Times
So Small a Town, So Many Patent Suits
Published: September 24, 2006
Mr. Smith of the Roth Law Firm said it could be difficult for outside lawyers to blend in and noted that some even tried to curry favor with jurors by taking on a drawl or wearing cowboy boots. “I call them T.B.L.’s, or ‘tall building lawyers,’ ” he said. “They don’t take their coats off no matter how hot it is down here.”
Indeed, local lawyers love to swap stories about visiting colleagues and their clients from bigger cities or from abroad.
15 January 2007, Business Week, “Bankruptcy Boot Camp” by Mara Der Hovanesian:
The 61-year-old Southerner relishes battle with “tall-building lawyers”—public service is in his blood. He’s the grandson of O. Max Gardner, a former North Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to Great Britain under Harry S Truman.
February 2007, Texas Bar Journal, pg. 193, col. 1:
This contribution is from Jack W. Gooding of Texarkana (Brock, Gooding & Mowery).
Jacks adds, “Now, in most of Texas, this may not offend anyone, but in Northeast Texas, to be called a Dallas-like lawyer is even worse than being called a tall-building lawyer.”
Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer David Finn
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A New Day: Texas Lawyer-Mark Donald
A New Day: Democrats Make Their Presence Known at the Dallas County Courthouse
By Mark Donald
Texas Lawyer
Monday, April 16, 2007
Cortez had taken a fiery tone during the campaign, says Phelan, and his firm was hearing that there was a lot of anti-establishment rhetoric coming from the Democratic candidates. “So when you are a tall-building lawyer and you represent the establishment, which is supposedly being targeted by these candidates, you find a change at the courthouse — a huge change — pretty scary,” he says.
Eastern District of Texas Weblog
The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law - Mark Herrmann
This is without a doubt the best book I have ever read on the practice of law, and explains a lot (especially to those of us that have never been tall-building lawyers) about how we should do our jobs.
Posted by Michael Smith on April 20, 2007 at 04:01 PM
24 June 2007, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. C1:
Mars, who works at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., says he liked Boutrous because the North Dakota native didn’t act much like a “tall-building lawyer”—an Arkansas term for city slickers who drive fancy rental cars and wear suits to rural courts instead of hopping out of pickup trucks in sport coats.
The Wall Street Journal - Law Blog
June 25, 2007, 4:21 pm
He Works in a Tall Building, But He’s No Tall-Building Lawyer
Posted by Peter Lattman
“I talk to Ted Boutrous more than I talk to any outside lawyer in the world, and there’s not even a close second. We have access to all the best lawyers in the world. . . . Yet somebody has to be the best of the best, and that’s the way I would describe Ted.”
Those are the words of Wal-Mart GC Tom Mars from yesterday’s LAT profile of the Gibson Dunn partner.
Wal-Mart’s Mars says he liked Boutrous because he doesn’t act like a “tall-building lawyer,” apparently a pejorative term for big-city attorneys. Though Boutrous now works on the 47th floor of the Wells Fargo building, he grew up in low-slung Bismarck, N.D. (Law Blog Trivia: Bismarck’s tallest building? Its beloved state capitol, aka the “Skyscraper on the Prairie.”)
South Texas Chisme
Monday, September 17, 2007
Judge Susan Criss for Texas Supreme Court
At 8:51 AM,  CorpusChristiCouncilWatch said…
Here is a “tall building lawyer” bragging on his firm website about how Judge Criss when out of her way to punish people who were in a dispute with a credit card company:...
University of Arkansas Daily Headline (February 7, 2008)
“Judge Griffen has been a path breaker and an excellent model for young lawyers in pursuing a law career oriented toward public service,” said Rob Leflar, Equal Justice Works faculty adviser. “As the Workers’ Compensation commissioner, as a tall-building lawyer, as Court of Appeals judge and as an advocate for free speech rights, he has set a standard for aspiring attorneys to emulate.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Thursday, March 20, 2008 • Permalink

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