COOKEVILLE – A local law firm with a knack for cases of the criminal kind has expanded its reach – adding a pair of new attorneys and a new niche for its clients: business law.
Brett Knight and Bo Murphy both joined Cookeville’s Fry and Fry, Attorneys at Law this summer as part of a recent expansion. They say they’re looking to bring more business cases to the practice that’s largely focused on criminal defense since Shawn Fry helped found the practice in 1998.
The firm is also expanding its regional reach; its coverage area now includes five counties outside Putnam.
“Criminal cases are our foundation; we won’t ever abandon it. But the timing is right,” Knight said. “We want to get the word out – we’re not just here for the individuals, but businesses, too, whether they’re starting off or they’re already in existence.”
Knight, a former assistant district attorney, joined Fry and Fry this summer – an opportune time, he said, considering, first, a recent decrease in the number of practicing attorneys in the area: several have either retired or have taken elected positions like Bryant Dunaway, now DA. Second, the overall business growth the Upper Cumberland has seen.
There, the pair saw a niche.
“We’re very optimistic, both Shawn and I, and that’s where the conversation began: ‘Look at some of the things that are happening in the community.’ ‘Look at some of the new businesses that are starting up,'” Knight said. “I was an assistant district attorney; Shawn was a defense attorney, but we saw a lot of common ground in how we viewed the legal community in the Upper Cumberland. A lot of senior members of the bar were retiring or had taken elected positions, people, who in the past, would have filled some of the shoes for the business community. So while there’s a need growing, there’s a vacuum being created at the same time. We don’t think people need to go to Nashville or Knoxville to get this kind of legal representation.”
Specially, Fry and Fry now offers business clients contract drafting, contract litigation, formation services, negotiations and dispute resolutions. The firm also handles estate planning, civil litigation, and hopes to expand on its foundation in criminal defense work.
Murphy, a Tennessee Tech graduate who received his master’s of business administration alongside his law degree, has additional experience with domestic cases after working for the Memphis law firm of Rice, Amundsen, and Caperton PLLC.
Fry and Fry’s coverage area now includes Putnam, White, DeKalb, Jackson, Clay and Overton counties.
“There’s a lot of big businesses here – and if they have questions, we can assist them, but we also know there’s a host of mid-range and small companies that can’t afford to hire their own attorneys in house,” Knight said. “We see more people needing help: ‘I need to incorporate.’ ‘I need to create an LLC.’ ‘I’ve got this contract, and I don’t think the vendors at the other end are fulfilling their obligations.’ Or, ‘I’m being sued.’ There are firms that do pieces of this, but I don’t think there’s any our size that are giving a more one-on-one approach. We want to create an environment where either businesses or individuals can get most of their needs covered under one umbrella. We’d be able to take care of that.”
Knight said he hopes business clientele will soon make up a third – or more – of the firm’s future caseload. Much like a local one-stop shop for legal needs.
“We believe in the Upper Cumberland,” Knight added. “The more we support the business community, the more this community can grow and the stronger this community gets.”