Norris Bishton divides his time -- a lot.
Some days he's in court arguing a client's case in front of a judge. Other days he's running six California auto dealerships.
Bishton is a partner in the Bishton Gubernick law firm in Los Angeles.
He's also majority owner of Noarus Auto Group in Garden Grove, Calif., which sold 10,593 new and used vehicles last year.
"According to my wife, I work 18 hours a day," Bishton says, chuckling in a raspy voice reminiscent of the late actor Peter Falk as the famous TV detective Columbo.
The 76-year-old's clients at Bishton Gubernick include not only real estate developers and entrepreneurs, but car dealerships, namely Keyes Automotive Group in Van Nuys, Calif., and David Wilson Automotive Group in Orange, Calif.
Even more unusual, Bishton's dealership group, Noarus, directly competes with Wilson. Two of Bishton's Toyota stores are in market areas adjacent to two of Wilson's Toyota stores, Bishton says.
"It's not a problem. I get all his statements each month, but we're good friends," Bishton says.
David Wilson says he has worked with Bishton for about 28 years and trusts him completely. The two met in 1985 when Wilson bought his first store. Bishton was the lawyer representing the seller. After the sale, Wilson hired Bishton as his lawyer.
A 1959 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, Bishton practiced law until 1969. He left to become executive vice president of a conglomerate in Los Angeles until 1974, then returned to law. Bishton bought his first dealership, Toyota Place in Garden Grove, in 1983. He has continued to practice law ever since.
"I'm happy to be in both worlds," Bishton says. "If I were in one or the other, I would have burned out a long time ago."
Bishton does not plan to retire soon. As to which job he prefers, his reply reflects his humor.
"I don't hang around with lawyers, I find it more rewarding to spend my free time and associate with car dealers. But could you imagine if I were also a politician?" he bursts out laughing, adding: "That's three strikes."