• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Practice nearly perfect for Moores

The senior attorney is 60 years old and stands 6’5”. His junior associate is 33 and nearly a foot shorter. In the office, they often don’t have much time to talk about their cases, so nearly every weekday they lunch together. She joined the firm in 2009, and early on, especially, some folks got the wrong idea. “People that didn’t know her, or me, they would think that’s my girlfriend,” Bill Moore said with a laugh. “I don’t think she appreciated that at all. You would hear, ‘Oh, I saw you with your new girl.’ It tickles me, I get a big laugh out of that, but she doesn’t think it’s funny at all, that she would be dating an old man.” Bill Moore is Ellen Moore’s old man, in one sense of the phrase – he’s her father. For the past six-and-a-half years, they’ve shared the first floor of the Moore Law Offices on South Main Street. “Sometimes people think I’m his wife, which grosses me out,” Ellen said, laughing, in a separate interview. The dad-daughter partnership began shortly after Ellen passed the bar exam. “Certainly this type of environment compared to a bigger, private firm in a big city is a much more nurturing environment,” Bill Moore said. “And as a parent, I think that environment suits her better than a cut-throat environment where attorneys are after one another, and after their clients, and trying to get credit to advance to be partner. She doesn’t have to worry about any of that stuff, because she knows that I will take care of her, will pay her whatever I can pay her … and that she can trust me completely, and I know that I can trust her completely.” Ellen said when she was at the UK School of Law, she clerked for firms in Lexington with more than a dozen attorneys, and saw herself in that sort of firm when she passed the bar. “I kind of thought this is going to be maybe a job to tide me over,” she said with a smile. It’s been more than that, both say. “I have a mentor who is truly invested in me becoming the best attorney I can be, and he’s going to do everything he can to make sure I am a good attorney. Most firms, partners and whatnot, they probably wouldn’t devote as much time. I don’t know that I would be the lawyer I am today if it weren’t for him,” Ellen said. Each admits that working together poses challenges beyond quizzical glances from lunchtime onlookers. For one thing, Bill can’t carry the same sort of hammer as most bosses. “If you have, say, a straight employer-employee relationship and you tell somebody, ‘I need you to do this,’ or ‘I need you to do that,’ you expect them to do it,” Bill said. “And if they say, ‘No, I’m not,’ then you say, ‘Well, you do it or you’re fired.’ It’s a little bit harder to do that with your child. If you tell your child, ‘I need you to do this,’ the general comment is, ‘Why?’” The soft-spoken Moore said he’s comfortable with that relationship, though, and the occasional disagreements that pop up between two attorneys in the same firm. “With your young child, you usually end that with, ‘Because I said so.’ … And with an employee, you can always say, ‘Because I said so. I’m the boss, you’re the employee. This is what you’re going to do.’ With your child as an employee and as a professional, too, so that it’s not that her opinions on anything are to be discounted, because quite frankly, she may be right,” Bill said. “Because the other thing is, if I do the ‘Because I said so,’ she’s going to go to her mother, and when I get home, her mother’s going to want to talk to me about it. …” Ellen said sometimes she does take her work home when she visits mom and dad. “Sometimes we’ll talk about it if I’m over at my parents’ house. It’s hard not to, but I think it kind of aggravates my mother,” she said. Growing up, Ellen watched as her father conducted his law practice out of their home in Midway. (Bill and Amy Moore live in Frankfort now; Ellen in Lexington.) She was closer to her mother then, but after two-thirds of a decade in practice together, that’s changed. “… and I don’t know if it would be that way if I was working for a firm. He’s one of my best friends, and I don’t know if it would be like that if I wasn’t around him,” Ellen said. In court or at the Versailles City Council, where he serves as city attorney, Bill Moore speaks softly and courteously. In that way, at least, Ellen is a chip off the old block. “She’s soft-spoken, she rarely gets angry or upset. Of course, if you’re angry or upset, you’ve lost the ability to reason and think, which is very important for a lawyer …” Moore said. “Part of being a good lawyer is knowing the law, being a better lawyer is knowing the judge.” Ellen said her father’s calm nature comes in handy when one of her cases, especially in the sometimes heart-wrenching family court, get her down. “I think about twice a year, I have, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ Something will happen, and it will just wear on me, and I’ll get to the point where, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I need to find another job.’ And I just kind of talk to him about it, and eventually it just goes away and I’m fine again,” she said. Receptionist Darlene Burgess said working for the firm, where she’s been nearly two years, is one of the most comfortable jobs she’s ever had. It’s such a comfortable place, in fact, that Burgess has to keep an eye on what Bill and Ellen are wearing when a client walks in. “Neither of us like to wear shoes around the office, so occasionally we’ll be out and about out front and someone will come in,” Ellen said. “So occasionally we get caught without our shoes on.” Bill said he hopes his daughter stays on for years. Ellen said she has no plans to leave, but if her father retired, she’d sell the firm, because she doesn’t want to work there without him. “It’s the most rewarding I’ve ever done as an attorney, as rewarding as anything I’ve ever done as a parent – to see your child responding and doing so in a positive way,” Bill said. Ellen said she admires her father as an attorney and human being, even when he says the not-quite-right thing from time to time. “He told me the other day that I need to get new photos made, because I look a lot older now,” she said, shaking her head. “Or a lot more mature. He said it’s a good thing; I mean, you want to look older and more experienced, but still, I was kind of like, ‘Thanks. Look older? Really?’ That was lovely. It was really nice to hear.”

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