Around 2005, the company brought onboard Chris Willis as general counsel to oversee day-to-day legal work, says Holmes. True to Interstate's blended form, within three or four months, Holmes says, Willis was named director of human resources, too.
Also handling legal work for the company is another lawyer, Kelvin Sellers, director of legal affairs.
As for following the Golden Rule, it's a companywide and legal-affairs standard, Holmes says.
"Our philosophy is very simple to treat others as we would want to be treated," says Holmes. "And, so, what that does is actually shapes, compels [and] frames how we spend a lot of our energy. We do a lot of things proactively to try to avoid litigation, primarily."
That means trying to resolve disputes early and without going to court. And when a dispute arises, the company still tries to respect its adversaries.
"We accept and acknowledge that we may have different perspectives," Holmes says. "But we generally operate from the principle that, even though we may be involved in litigation, we don't ascribe ill motives or ill will or ill intentions from even the party that we may be in litigation with."
That respectful posture, says Paul Genender, a partner in K&L Gates in Dallas who has represented the company in business litigation matters, means the company has "not unnecessarily burned any bridges and made things personal." After all, the person or entity with which Interstate might be in dispute could be one with which the company still wants to do business after the dispute is resolved, he said.
Noble as it is, the Golden Rule is not always the easiest position for the company, Holmes says.
"Sometimes, I think you'd just like to say, 'Hey, gloves off, and we'll just go fight. We'll do whatever we need to do; we'll go to the mat because we just know that we're right,' " Holmes says. "That, I guess, can be easier, sometimes. But I just don't necessarily think that that's the best way to be."
That's not to say Interstate is a pushover, Willis says. The company will take a strong, "collaborative stance" when necessary, he says.