Date and place of birth: Nov. 21, 1980, Salem
Family: Wife Codi Oliver, daughters Reesa, 5, and Reagan, 2 (She will turn 3 May 31. She is having a Monsters, Inc. birthday theme.) My horses are a big, stout team-roping quarter horse named Chuckles and two 3-year-old fillies, Dolly and Paisley. My wife’s horse is named Bailey, after Frank.
What’s always by my bed: a litigation strategy book, a horse sale catalog for the next horse sale, and a pink hair bow.
People in high school thought: I was a nice guy, maybe athletic, and probably going to do something with public speaking someday.
Something you may not know about me: I get really, really nervous before every auction, every trial and every time I speak in public. My wife, Codi, says I put too much pressure on myself to get results and I should relax a little or a lot.
Fantasy dinner guests: John Wayne and John Cash
My biggest self-indulgence: Team Roping with my buds Tom, Chad, Drew, Rod, Doc and Jack.
Law & Order (on TV) is a greatshow! Some folks believe that real jury trials should go like they do on TV (in one hour) so we try very hard to keep the multi-day or multiweek trials for our clients moving fast, with plenty of visual aids, exhibits, evidence and action.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would: ride horses with Reesa, Reagan and Codi.
word to describe me: Determined
Sach Oliver was featured in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Northwest Profile this Sunday, 4/27/14, by April Robertson (page 33):
Sach Oliver was as happy as a speckled pup in a little red wagon. Dressed in a pair of Wranglers, a George Strait button-up shirt and cowboy boots, he had the windows rolled down and the country music turned up.
“This is going to be great,” he thought. “I’m going to be away from the practice of law, it’s going to be a little vacation. I’ll eat out every night, and won’t wear a suit everyday.”
When he arrived at United Country Auction Services to spend three weeks under the tutelage of Mike Jones, a former president of the National Auctioneers Association, he got to keep those Wranglers on for a full day before Jones asked him to dress like a professional.
“You may be a lawyer,” Jones said. “But you don’t dress like one.”
A common misperception, his friends say.
“Sach is half cowboy and half lawyer,” says Frank Bailey, founding partner of Bailey & Oliver Law Firm. “As his grandfather says, ‘Sach is like one of those St. Bernard dogs. He’s a lot smarter than he looks.’”
Oliver couldn’t keep his country roots a secret if he tried, and he doesn’t.
“When he met my sister for the first time, he did a real hard country jig … and said, ‘You just met yourself a country boy,’” says Clarke Tucker, of Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull and Burrow Law Firm and a former roommate of Oliver’s. “With him, get ready to be entertained. Buckle your seat belt and enjoy the ride.”
Oliver worked the hours of a lawyer at auctioneering school, starting instruction at 7:30 a.m. and continuing until 10 in the evening. He didn’t get a vacation, but he did get sound training as an auctioneer. When he returned, Oliver created an auctioneering team with the staff members of the law firm he partners with Bailey, and they frequent the regions’ nonprofit events to help drive donations, auctioning the most prestigious high-end items. The proceeds will help Arkansans to pay for cancer treatments, end-of-life hospice care, occupational and physical therapy, and training to develop their skills and find jobs.
When the Bailey & Oliver auction team shows up, they often top the previous year’s fundraising proceeds. To date, they’ve assisted in raising a total of $950,540. If their record is any indication of future success, they’re sure to hit the $1 million mark after the Cancer Challenge in June.
Oliver, whose niche on the litigation team is opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations and closing arguments, initially had no intention of getting into auctioning, but his savvy speaking ability brought many offers, starting with the Gentlemen of Distinction event for HOPE Cancer Resources, formerly Helping Oncology Patients Excel. After he gave a presentation at the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, a HOPE representative asked him to be the auctioneer for the event, which was less than a week away.
Oliver accepted the offer, not knowing how many would follow after it. One crash course with experienced auctioneer Dick Trammel over breakfast and some YouTube research later, he helped raise $23,000 to top the prior year’s Gentlemen of Distinction. It was there that a Circle of Life Hospice representative requested his auction services for their benefit, the Voyage Gala. He agreed, successfully auctioning another nonprofit into record-breaking fund-raising. The folks of Cancer Challenge saw him at Voyage Gala and approached him for their event, among the largest benefits in the region. Then the offers really picked up with Pathfinders, K-Life, the Ozark Natural Science Center and more.
He continued his instruction under Trammel, and the two paired up on some benefit efforts, but Oliver still felt underprepared.
“It hit me [what] the impact [was that] these charities have on the individuals they’re helping. We’re raising a lot of money for people who need it most, and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing,” he says. “If I don’t do a good job, maybe somebody doesn’t get the medication they need or the vehicle ride to their cancer treatment.”
After he got that formal training, proceeds dramatically increased. Most recently, the Bailey & Oliver auctioneering team assisted the American Diabetes Association in raising $200,000 from a mere six live auction items, the Benton County Sunshine School fundraiser and the Mercy Health Foundation Charity Ball.
“It’s a real blessing to help these organizations that are doing so much in our community. Northwest Arkansas steps up to the challenge every time.”
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Sach grew up on a cattle farm in the tiny town of Viola, where he sold cattle, rode horses and team-roped at the rodeo. His parents – Eddy, a line foreman at North Arkansas Electric, and Jeanie, a retired elementary school teacher – pushed him to do well in school, and it paid off. He was an excellent student, a co-valedictorian who earned academic and rodeo scholarships to Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.
His industrial shop teacher, Mr. Walling, encouraged him to represent Viola High School in the Future Farmers of America speech competition, and though it meant giving up buddy time, he took Walling’s direction and won the local competition.
Before proceeding to the regional competition, Oliver got some professional advising. With his teacher’s help, he bent the ear of executives at North Arkansas Electric, the Bank of Salem, Fulton County Farm Bureau and local attorneys. Their advice helped send him to the state competition in Hot Springs, where he spoke in front of Arkansas senators and representatives and once again took the gold. He moved on to nationals, where he placed third.
From then on, Oliver took as many speaking engagements as possible. In 1996, Sen. Jodie Mahoney, who had been at the FFA competition, enlisted his help arguing against a bill that would cut funding to high school extracurricular activities. Oliver addressed the senate floor and met personally with Gov. Mike Huckabee to discuss how extracurricular activities, like FFA, had benefited him. When Mahoney and his counterparts won the issue, Sach felt pride for having a hand in it.
He entered ASU and picked an agricultural business major because the agriculture department felt like home. Professors were on a first-name basis, students were friends, and he fit in.
His first speech communications assignment caught the eye of the debate team, who snatched him up and entered him in a tournament that very weekend. Despite lack of experience and time to prepare, he won the tournament – and a debate scholarship. Professors took notice and asked Oliver to run for the student government association, so he returned to the same Viola business leaders who had given constructive criticism for his FFA speech years before to gather campaign funds. He won the seat of president.
The role helped him continue to develop his gift as a public speaker and returned him to the state Capitol. At the time there was a movement to repeal the sales tax that helped fund college scholarships in the state, so Sach set out to represent his constituents, the students.
“It was fun to strategize who we need to visit with, where we need to have press conferences, what organizations and groups we need toget in front of to tell them how important it is to continue to fund education,” he says. “The public speaking opened my eyes to what we’re capable of accomplishing if we set our minds to it, because we won that issue too.”
This involvement and determination were among the reasons he was bestowed with the R.E. Lee Wilson Award, which honors an outstanding graduating senior.
Oliver’s wife, Codi, met Sach at ASU. She says two things stood out – he was an almost obnoxiously good student and he cared about people.
“He wants to help everybody. That’s what attracted me the most,” she says. “Every person who comes along who needs help, he’d give them the shirt off his back.”
Oliver spent a lot of time representing the university with ASU President Leslie Wyatt and turned to him for advice on choosing a career. Wyatt referred him to Wallace Fowler, CEO of Liberty Bank of Arkansas and Fowler Foods, Inc.
Fowler explained that a career should be a convergence of passion, community need and ability. He walked Oliver through the process of finding what he really liked, where there was a need and what he was truly good at.
Oliver had hopes of being a lobbyist or elected official, but Fowler suggested he become a trial lawyer.
HALF COWBOY, HALF LAWYER
Oliver was anxious about the prospect of law school and took it upon himself to find some experience before he got there. He began research on the best Arkansas trial lawyers and zeroed in on Frank Bailey, a solo practitioner in nearby Mountain Home.
“I was scared about going to law school,” he says. “As a first generation lawyer, I didn’t know what to expect. If I could go to work with some lawyer before law school, I thought maybe I could figure out which way is up.”
His daily phone calls finally produced a meeting with Bailey that he didn’t know what to do with. Sitting in that stuffy office in the middle of an Arkansas summer, he tugged at the knotted tie that felt unnatural and asked for maintenance work in exchange for job shadowing experience. Bailey agreed.
When Oliver wasn’t trimming the shrubs, he was interviewing witnesses and working with clients while traveling with Bailey. He sat at a counsel table and was second chair at a jury trial before he graduated law school – an opportunity that is unheard of for those without a juris doctorate – and was on a traveling trial team. Even during mock trial competitions for law school, he had Bailey’s advice for opening statements and closing arguments.
“Sach was just like a puppy. You couldn’t help but like him,” Bailey says. “He was persistent, obviously country smart, and had a big heart. Those are traits that make a special kind of lawyer. I wanted to give him the opportunity to be that lawyer.”
His three years of being a law clerk gave him a unique and thorough education that didn’t end when school did. Each Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and summer, Bailey expected Oliver in the office learning how to do in-person interviews with Bailey during litigation, a bit of dirty work that most lawyers shy away from, while also taking away the importance of a fine balance: confidence and humility, hard work and making time for family.
By his final year, Oliver was gaining ground as a true professional and was awarded with the national title of Best Oral Advocate by the American College of Trial Lawyers. Tim Leonard, an Arkansas crime defense lawyer, was on that team.
“We had good times doing that, as odd as it sounds,” he says. “We had fun doing something in school that we do now, prep and try cases.”
Oliver’s success didn’t cloud what was important. He has always kept friendships a priority.
“Sach would be there for me for anything I needed,” Leonard says, an offer he took up a few times over the years.He even asked Oliver to be best man at his wedding. “I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him for anything. If he could help, he would.”
Oliver’s winning required going up against contestants from Harvard and Yale, and his top placement didn’t go unnoticed.
“The [officials] came up to me and asked, ‘How did this happen? This hick from Viola, Arkansas, named the best oral advocate in the country, how does this happen?’”
He credited his success to Bailey’s mentorship, so the trial lawyers group sent him to London to speak to the English members’ annual convention about the importance of mentoring. Besides being glad for another speaking opportunity, Oliver was duly impressed when he was followed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Oliver officially joined the Bailey Law Firm when he graduated law school in 2006. Since then, the firm expanded by forming a litigation team that leverages each person’s strengths. He couldn’t be more proud of his team, which represents those who have suffered serious injuries and wrongful deaths of family members. Others are equally as proud of him.
“Sach is constantly learning, looking for better ways to do things,” Bailey says. “He attends as many seminars as he can fit into his schedule, reads all the new books … on trial practice and knows the value of practice.”
That persistence has helped Oliver make a name for himself.
“In just a few years out of law school, he became one of the most respected trial lawyers in the state,” Tucker says.
Oliver feels strongly about providing the same opportunities to others. In his short 11 years in the field, he has already created two programs, the Three Points Solution and the Bailey & Oliver Speech Competition, to aid young people in finding their career paths and better job opportunities.
After a long day of doing the talking in court, he goes home to the family farm to listen to his favorite young people, in the mentoring work called fathering. The lawyer becomes the audience as his girls sing their latest renditions of Frozen songs and practice for their dance recital.