Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 2, 2024

Marathon ethic pays off for Moody

Haley Moody is a commercial litigation attorney with Miller & Martin in Chattanooga. The firm recently made her a member after she completed her seventh year with the practice. - Photograph provided

A few years before becoming an attorney, Haley Moody demonstrated her willingness to take on grueling challenges when she competed as a NCAA Division I cross country athlete. While conquering long distances on foot appealed to her, she says, she was more drawn to the test of her personal mettle and her complete reliance on her own skills and fortitude.

“Cross country is a solo endeavor,” muses Moody, 34. “You’re on your own. How hard you work is up to you. Or, you can slow down, and no one will know. It’s an individual challenge. That’s what drew me to it.”

As a collegiate athlete, Moody offered no reason for anyone to question if she’d slowed down; instead, she pushed herself to reach her potential. Seeking an even greater challenge in 2021, she leapfrogged over the Holy Grail for most cross country runners – the classic 26.2-mile marathon – and completed the 50-mile JFK ultramarathon in Maryland.

Although Moody tends to be more pragmatic than dramatic, she does admit the race was punishing in a way nothing else she’s experienced as a runner had been. “I had a lot trouble walking up and down stairs afterward,” she says.

Moody is now applying this same mindset to her practice at Miller & Martin, where she’s served as a commercial litigation attorney since 2016 and was recently promoted to member.

“It’s a lot of working nights, a lot of coming in on weekends, a lot of me with my head down, working day in and day out, trying to help our clients as best as possible,” she says. “It’s a lot of time and effort but also worth it.”

Moody did not forge a path to the law with intent but rather through a series of decisions based on what she believed would be a good match for her interests and abilities, she says.

After growing up in Morristown, Moody ventured south into neighboring Alabama to compete as a member of the Crimson Tide’s track and field team and study history. She did well in both pursuits, earning accolades as a runner and graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts.

Moody also benefited from an academic experience she not only loved but that also taught her vital skills that pointed her toward law school.

“I loved history, as well as my professors,” she says. “They taught me how to think critically and write well. But I didn’t want to teach history, and law school seemed like the most interesting option.”

Tulane University Law School lured Moody even farther south to New Orleans with what she says were reasonable costs and an attractive scholarship. The history buff in her loved the city, while the genial southerner in her appreciated the welcoming nature of the city’s people.

“I love New Orleans. It’s my favorite place. It has a lot of history and character, and it’s imperfect. I love that the buildings are a little rubbly and the sidewalks are cracked from 200-year-old oak trees breaking up from below. It’s flawed and beautiful, and everyone just wants you to hang out with them.”

As appealing as New Orleans was to Moody, she was unable to secure work in the city after she graduated from Tulane, so she turned her eyes northward.

“I applied to several places, but nothing was sticking, which I took as a sign that I wanted to return to Tennessee, where my family still lives. I applied to firms in a few different cities, landed an interview at Leitner (Williams, Dooley & Napolitan in Chattanooga), and connected well with the people there.”

After a productive two-year stint at Leitner, where Moody says she gained valuable experience many associates don’t receive, she was drawn to the promise of a civil litigation practice at Miller & Martin.

Getting ready for the interview must have felt like training for a cross country run, given the way Moody describes her preparations.

“Lynzi Archibald, who’s also a member here, asked me if I wanted to interview for a position. I worked very hard to nail the interview and make sure I got the job,” Moody recalls.

Since then, Moody has worked even harder to “stick around,” she says. Her days – as well as her nights and weekends – consist of connecting with clients, learning about their businesses, determining how she can help them, and delivering a quality product. It comes as no surprise that Moody says this requires “a lot of long hours and hard work.”

As will being a member of the firm, she adds.

“Being named a member of Miller & Martin means a lot to me. It’s not a steppingstone to somewhere else; it’s what I wanted. Going forward, the expectations are the same as they have been: do excellent work and provide great client service.”

Moody says there’s one thing that can entice her to curtail her hours on the job – her family. Consisting of her husband, physical therapist John Gilpin, and their young daughter, Moody says her family gives her great pleasure, whether she’s running with her spouse or playing with their child.

“My daughter is chaotic in the most wonderful way,” Moody smiles. “We’ll be hanging out at the house or the park, and I’ll see her learn something, or do something she wasn’t able to do last week, and I’ll just laugh. Watching her is fun. She’ll point at something and say a word, and then I’ll look, and lo and behold, she’s articulated what it is.”

Work is always waiting in the wings, but for those moments, Moody is running a marathon of a different kind. It tests her mettle in ways she’s never experienced, she says, but she’s glad she’s not alone.