Pierce Hamblin graciously accepted the Henry T. Duncan award on Law Day, May 1, 2023. The Fayette County Bar awarded Pierce with their highest honor, which is awarded to an attorney whose integrity and leadership exemplify the high ethical standards of the legal profession.
Elvis once said, “Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” Whether you know him as the Mayor of Waffle House, The Big Guy, Captain, Teacher, or Pierce, you can feel the power of a V8 in his presence. Pierce’s ambition was to be an attorney. He insists, “I’m one of those boring fellows who knew what they wanted do from an early age and never wavered from that path.” Pierce earned his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1977, the year Elvis died. Elvis’s untimely death meant Pierce would miss the concert he had looked forward to at Rupp Arena. Of course, Pierce will tell you that Elvis lives, and while I am not sure of that, I am sure the spirit of Elvis lives in Pierce’s Elvis room, a shrine built next to his office that houses an assortment of Elvis memorabilia. The room has come to be known as a “come to Jesus” room for Pierce and his mediation clients.
On March 15th, Pierce celebrated his 45th anniversary with Landrum & Shouse LLP, where he is a partner. Pierce was a defense attorney known primarily for his work on insurance cases, until 2006, when he took a chance and began focusing on the growing field of mediation and arbitration. It was a chance that paid off, as Pierce has gained recognition as one of Kentucky’s most respected mediators. He has been a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals since 2010. Pierce has relied on his experience as a defense attorney, as he notes, “I think having been a defense attorney makes you a better mediator. Because you really have to evaluate your cases as a defense attorney. You’ve got to look at both sides, at the strengths and weaknesses; you just can’t take for granted everything you’re told. It’s helped me learn to listen to both sides.”
Aside from his experience as a defense attorney, his wit, charm, and overall love of people have contributed to his successes. Most every morning Pierce can be found eating breakfast at the Hamburg Waffle House and has earned the title Mayor of Waffle House. Members of the staff consider him family and enjoy his jolly humor daily. If you do decide to check out the place, Pierce stresses that if you say he sent you, “You all better learn how to properly order your hashbrowns. As mayor of Waffle House, I don’t want to be embarrassed.”
In addition to serving Kentucky as an attorney, Pierce was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University Kentucky College of Law. For over 40 years, he taught a course in trial work and trial tactics known as Litigation Skills and a course known as Negotiations to senior law students. Never short on humor, Pierce described his litigation skills class, “like watching a combination of Duck Dynasty and the Real Housewives of Las Vegas.” In all seriousness, Pierce cherished his time working with the students, as he emphasized, “One of my greatest passions in life has been teaching at the UK College of Law. I think it’s important to teach my students to be good lawyers, but it’s more important to teach them to be good people.” As demonstrated by the number of hands raised when Pierce asked the audience at Law Day who had attended his classes, it is easy to see the impact he has made. A former student once said, “It’s impossible to imagine where all of us would be today if we hadn’t had Pierce there teaching us, helping us, cheering us on, and guiding us in our lives and careers. We are all better for having known Pierce.”
Pierce proudly served his country as a Captain in the United States Army and Army Reserves. He specialized as a tactical intelligence officer, analyzing and predicting Soviet military moves in the final days of the Cold War. He was The Distinguished Graduate of the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course provided by the Army for 1977, and he is certified both as a Tactical Intelligence Officer and a Counter-Intelligence Officer. He earned a degree in Military Law from the University of Virginia College of Law. Thereafter, he served as the Judge Advocate for an Army Training Brigade.
As a great community service ambassador, Pierce acts as a mentor for every law school in the Commonwealth for students participating in the Kentucky Legal Education Opportunities (KLEO) Programs. He has served in this program since its inception. This program provides guidance for entering law students from under-represented and diverse areas of the state.
The spirit of the Henry T. Duncan Award has been demonstrated in all aspects of Pierce Hamblin’s life. The award will join a prestigious list of recognitions that include:
- The University of Kentucky College of Law Hall of Fame, inducted 2006
- The Service to Young Lawyers Award – KBA Young Lawyers Division, 2013
- National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals (Charter Member from Kentucky), inducted 2010
- The Army ROTC Half of Fame, inducted 2015
- Distinguished Lawyer of the Year Award for the Commonwealth of Kentucky by the KBA, 2017
- Recognized as a Top 50 Kentucky Super Lawyers, 2007-2023
- Recognized as a Top 10 Kentucky Super Lawyers, 2012-20
- Best Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year – Mediation, Lexington, KY. – 2014 & 2016 & 2020 & 2022
Pierce served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Kentucky Bar Foundation of the Kentucky Bar Association and was the President of the Fayette County Bar Association for the year 2014. Additionally, he served as an Auditor for the Fayette County Bar Association and an Officer, serving as Secretary and Vice President.
Pierce’s most vital roles are husband and father. He coached soccer, baseball, and basketball in the youth leagues of Lexington. His love for his family is on display in his office, where you will find an abundance of photos. It is not recommended to ask him why he has so many photos, as he asserts, “People say to me, ‘Pierce, why do you have so many pictures of your kids on your wall?’ You know what I tell them? I tell them, you can kiss my ass!”
If you are wondering if Pierce Hamblin has any intention of slowing down, the answer is no. He reminds us, “A lot of people work hard-I don’t want to be seen as a martyr. I’m never going to retire. My work is my hobby-I think when you retire, you sign your death warrant. My dad didn’t retire; I’m not going to retire.”