By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
"Building a practice is one day at a time," he says.
Flood played left field at Klein High School, then made an abortive attempt to continue his career at a junior college in Waco before moving to Southwest Texas State, which has since dropped the Southwest in an effort to shed its party-school image, and becoming a Lambda Chi Alpha. On his way home from a pledge event in January of 1990, he was pulled over for rolling a stop sign. Flood failed the field sobriety tests and blew a .12.
"I broke all of my own rules," he says, blaming the conviction on an $800 lawyer who was afraid to go to trial.
Flood graduated with a degree in psychology. Then he became a music promoter, doing everything from slipping flyers under windshield wipers to organizing a music festival at the Atlanta Olympics from scratch. He enrolled at South Texas College of Law hoping to become an entertainment lawyer, but soon discovered he had no patience for reviewing contracts. During his first big job with real estate firm Hoover Slovacek, he also realized he didn't work well with a boss.
When Flood finally decided to become a DWI lawyer, he says, he was given the impression that there were already enough of those in town. So he turned his knack for marketing onto himself.
"I made my own way. I mean, you can't wait for an invitation," he says.
On top of his various ads, Flood has more than ten domain names, including some for counties where he has never practiced. There is also Tyler Flood the entertainment attorney, along with Tyler Flood firms for personal injury and maritime law. Flood pays someone to keep up his Google search rankings. He cut a deal with the publisher of the DWI booklet, a former employee, to keep his ad on the first page. He has reviewed himself on Yahoo (five out of five stars): "Tyler Flood is one of the smartest lawyers I have ever met...reasonably priced also!"
Flood's personal style and rampant self-promotion can inspire incredulity in his competition.
"It's amazing to me. How can you wear those Dolce and Gabban-o glasses in Brazoria County?" Silverman says. "There's just a lot of fluff."
On all of his sites, Flood's biography starts with his No. 4 class rank in law school. It doesn't mention that he graduated during the summer with 17 other people. (In fact, the site for Flood Publishing, which sells law school flash cards, claims he graduated in May.) Flood also has a reputation for bad-mouthing other lawyers to potential clients, a serious sin in the cliquish community of DWI defenders. When clients make their free consultation rounds, those who've already seen Flood might be getting his texts while sitting in the next lawyer's office.
"I can't help it," Flood says.
But there is one trait guaranteed to earn the respect, however grudging, of any good DWI lawyer in town, and Flood has it — even if, as is his custom, he takes it to the extreme. Flood once was in court in Brazoria County, for instance, when a colleague from Houston had to leave in a hurry. The lawyer planned to plea his client and asked if Flood would do it while he was gone. Flood declined. He doesn't like to plead guilty.
"He tries cases," Silverman says. "And you know what? He wins."
Near Flood's large desk hangs a plaque with a skull and crossbones. "The Beatings Will Continue," it says.
Big windows look down on the Majestic Metro building, and beyond that the elevated snarl where I-45 and I-10 tangle and merge with the downtown streets. The eighth-floor office seems crafted out of a frat boy's wet dream. A brand-new Golden Tee Complete sits in one corner, autographed electric guitars in another. There are signed baseballs, two laptops and two big flat-screen TVs. A "Fit Mom" issue of Health & Fitness magazine features, on page 36, Flood's blond and attractive wife.
The large, bustling and recently renovated digs opened in March. When Podlesney started in January 2008, it was just her and Flood in a dingy office down the hall. The mess of papers and missed hearings on the old assistant's desk took Podlesney more than a month to fix. Flood's business has almost doubled since, to as many as 100 clients at a time, and Podlesney is now helping Flood write his own DWI book. They want to knock down the walls and take on the old office, too.
Podlesney is a keen and experienced aide whose eye for detail has won cases. She manages the paperwork and myriad court dates and keeps the wheels greased so Flood can focus on performing in trial. Podlesney pulls a massive pencil case from the rolling trial bucket she totes to court each morning while Flood drags the TV. Inside are an assortment of school supplies, including dry-erase markers, rubber bands and two large glue sticks.
"I don't know what he's gluing in trial," Podlesney says. "We have to have everything. We can't be without anything. That sums him up."
Flood admires a maxim he credits to Judge Larry Standley in Court 6, who as a lawyer claimed he always knew a verdict before it was read. This refers to the ability to read a jury. Flood takes it one step further. Podlesney has found him passing a recess on his hands and knees, his ear to the crack in the bottom of a door as the jury converses inside. Or he'll carefully position himself within earshot of the prosecutors.