Honors, Elections and Fun Mark TBA Annual Convention

Jacqueline B. Dixon is 130th President

Nashville lawyer Jacqueline B. Dixon took office as the Tennessee Bar Association’s (TBA) 130th president, after being sworn into office by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark during the annual convention in Memphis, June 6-9. Dixon laid out her vision for the year, which included a focus on civics education, civility in the profession, pro bono efforts and working to preserve an impartial judiciary. She told the crowd at the Lawyers Luncheon how when she started practicing she didn’t have to worry as much about school debt and finding a job like recent graduates do. This is one reason why she is introducing a mentoring initiative, and she encouraged lawyers to consider reaching out to a new lawyer. She also said she would work to help improve the image of lawyers. “It will take all of us to change how people see us,” she said.

Dixon is a shareholder in the firm of Weatherly McNally & Dixon PLC, where she focuses on family law, personal injury, wrongful death and probate cases. She also is a Rule 31 listed family mediator.

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark, left, administers the oath of office to Jackie Dixon, the Tennessee Bar Associaton’s 130th president. Convention photos by Denise Bentley, Jenny Jones, Barry Kolar and Stacey Shrader.

Taking office along with Dixon was President-Elect Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Sevierville and Vice President Jonathan O. Steen of Jackson. Stepping down from his year as president was Memphis lawyer Danny Van Horn.

Also at the Lawyers Luncheon, American Bar Association President Bill Robinson talked briefly to the crowd, pledging his association's support for the “sacred responsibility to stand up and speak for the independence of our courts” as the TBA faces the challenge to keep merit selection in the state.

Awards presented at the lunch were:

  • The TBA Young Lawyers Fellows’ William M. Leech Public Service Award was given posthumously to former TBA President Larry Wilks, and was accepted by his widow, Jan Wilks. Given annually by the TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows, the Leech Award is named for former Attorney General William M. Leech and honors a lawyer who has given outstanding service to the profession, legal system and the community.
  • The Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award was given to Memphis Circuit Court Judge Robert L. Childers for his work with the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP), and for his leadership with lawyers’ assistance programs nationally.
  • The Justice Joe Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing was given to two writers this year, Nashville lawyer Andrée S. Blumstein and Knoxville lawyer Scott Griswold. Blumstein’s winning article is “Bye Bye Hannan? What a Difference Two Little Words, ‘at Trial,’ Will Make in the Formulation of Tennessee’s Summary Judgment Standard,” which was published in the August 2011 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal.

    Griswold's article, “Service of Process After Hall v. Haynes: Practice Tips for Counsel and Advice for Management” was published in the March 2011 issue of the Journal.
  • Three President’s Awards were given this year. They went to Knoxville lawyer Deborah Stevens for her work with the Task Force on Women in the Profession; Nashville lawyer B. Riney Green for his work as chair of the Tennessee Business Corporation Act Revision Committee; and TBA staff member Lynn Pointer, for her work in implementing the TBA’s first Diversity Job Fair last fall.
  • Videos that won the TBA’s YouTube Video Contest were shown, and awards were presented to middle schooler Ben Panak of Murfreesboro and high school senior Vivian Hughbanks of Signal Mountain.
  • Senior Counselors, those TBA members who are 75 or have practiced 50 years, were honored. (See the list in this month's People.)

The TBA convention — featuring lots of continuing legal education, entertainment and business of the bar — was held in conjunction with colleagues from the Tennessee Judicial Conference, the Tennessee Association for Justice, the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women and the Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers.

Board of Governors and House of Delegates

At the meeting of the TBA Board of Governors, two were elected to fill open seats. Andrew Sellers will represent the 7th District and Kim Helper will represent the 6th District until next year’s election.

Earlier in the week, the House of Delegates reviewed a number of policy issues during its session, and House Speaker Claudia Jack of Columbia passed the gavel to Charles L. Trotter Jr. of Huntingdon, who will lead the body in the coming year. Knoxville attorney Shelly Wilson will serve as deputy speaker and Dyersburg lawyer Matt Willis will serve as secretary.

Young Lawyers Division

Franklin lawyer David Veile became president of the Young Lawyers Division during the convention, taking the reins from Memphis lawyer Mason Wilson. Also taking office were President-Elect David McDowell of Chattanooga, Vice President Stacie Winkler of Memphis, Secretary Marisa Combs of Nashville and Treasurer Steven King of Memphis.

Diversity Leadership Institute

The YLD’s Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) met for a final program and graduation. The class spent an afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum learning about the role the city of Memphis played in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. The group also heard from a panel of young lawyers discussing what they wish they had known when transitioning from law school to law practice. Later in the day, the class participated in a cleanup and painting project at a local Boys and Girls Club. The class graduation ceremony also took place over the weekend.

YLD Fellows

The Young Lawyers Division Fellows also elected new leadership: President Angelia Morie Nystrom, Knoxville; Vice President Andrew V. Sellers, Jackson; Secretary Charlotte Knight Griffin, Memphis; and Treasurer J. Russell Parkes. Columbia Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Sevierville transitioned to immediate past president. The group also inducted nine new members at the meeting.

TBA Leadership Law

Thirty-five attorneys from across the state graduated from the TBA’s Leadership Law program during the convention. In addition, class member Curtis Bowe with Bowe & Associates PLLC in Chattanooga was named the first recipient of the Larry D. Wilks Leadership Award. Created to honor the former Springfield lawyer and TBA president who died this past August, the award recognizes a Leadership Law participant who exhibits “exceptional leadership qualities that enhance the Leadership Law experience for all class members.”

Briefs

‘Journal’ Readers Can Now Comment Online
A new feature allows readers to comment on Tennessee Bar Journal articles, which are posted online. Comments are not anonymous and can only be made by TBA members who are logged in to the site. This new capability is designed to make the online Journal more interactive and useful to readers. Check it out online and comment at www.tba.org/journal

Finding a Job Even Harder for Recent Law Grads, Stats Show
The law school class of 2011 has more depressing news as employment hit an 18-year low, according to data released in June by NALP and reported by the National Law Journal. Nine months after graduation, 85.6 percent had jobs, but not quite 66 percent of them had jobs that required a law degree. This is down 9 percent since 2008. Only 12.5 percent had jobs that preferred but did not require a law degree, up from 10.7 percent for the class of 2010.

U of M Names New Law Dean
William P. Kratzke has been named interim dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. He began June 1, succeeding Kevin Smith, who is returning to full-time teaching and research. Kratzke has taught at the U of M law school since 1979, serving as associate dean from 1989 to 1991, and in 1995 he was named Cecil C. Humphreys Professor of Law. He received his degree from Valparaiso University School of Law, and an LL.M. centered on labor law from Georgetown University.

Civics Ed Law Praised by Former Justice O’Connor
Legislation that calls for a new emphasis on civics education in Tennessee was among bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam in May. House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, requires civics education to be included in the public school curriculum assessed by local educational agencies. The legislation drew praise from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote the sponsors of the law, saying, “This important legislation will help make sure that every Tennessee student receives the civil learning that is so vital to their becoming an informed and engaged citizen.”

Drug Courts Change Departments
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Executive Order No. 12 transfers the management and oversight of state drug court programs from the Department of Finance and Administration to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). The change is effective July 1. In signing the order Haslam said the transfer would reduce duplication of effort and better align the drug courts with TDMHSAS’ role as the substance abuse authority in the state.

Lawyers, Judges Among Most Likely to Gain Weight
A recent survey of more than 5,700 workers found that lawyers and judges are among those most likely to report a weight gain at their current job, ABAJournal.com reports. Among all workers who added pounds, 54 percent said it was because of sitting at their desk most of the day; 56 percent said they also ate their lunch at their desk. Other reasons included eating because of stress (37 percent) and eating out regularly (23 percent).

Section Cup Awarded, New Chairs Named

In 2011-12 when Danny Van Horn was president of the Tennessee Bar Association, he instituted a new program for the association’s 27 sections. He recognized the work of three TBA sections by presenting them with Section Cup awards during the Section Chairs Roundtable at the TBA Annual Convention in Memphis in June. Over the past year, sections accumulated points for holding meetings and CLEs or providing new services to members. Sections of like-size competed against one another for the honor.

The TBA Appellate Practice Section was named the Section Cup recipient for smaller TBA sections, with Executive Council member Buck Lewis accepting the award on behalf of the section. The TBA Criminal Justice Section was named Section Cup recipient for mid-sized sections, with Executive Council member Joe Murphy accepting the award on behalf of the section. And the TBA Health Care Law Section was named Section Cup recipient for larger sections, with 2012 Section Chair Kim Looney accepting the award on behalf of the section.

2012-2013 TBA Section Chairs

Administrative Law: Christy Allen, Tennessee Treasury Department, Nashville, co-chair; and Tom Stovall, Tennessee Department of State Administrative Procedures Division, Nashville, co-chair. Appellate Practice: Mark Fulks, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Johnson City. Bankruptcy Law: Jeb Bailey, Butler Snow O’Mara Stevens & Cannada PLLC, Memphis. Business Law: Robert Jude DelPriore, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, Memphis.  Construction Law:  Jerry M. Martin, Attorney at Law, Knoxville. Corporate Counsel: Ira Greer, Greer & Wade PLLC, Paris. Creditors Practice: Bill Shick, Buffaloe & Assoicates PLC, Nashville. Criminal Justice: David Eldridge, Eldridge, Blakney & Trant PC, Knoxville. Disability Law: Beth Bates, West Tennessee Legal Services Inc., Jackson. Dispute Resolution: Stephen Shields, Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt, Memphis. Elder Law: Mark Addison, Chambliss Bahner & Stophel PC, Chattanooga. Entertainment & Sports Law:    Tim Warnock, Riley Warnock & Jacobson, PLC, Nashville. Environmental Law: Rick Hitchcock: Chambliss Bahner & Stophel PC, Chattanooga. Estate Planning & Probate: Donald Farinato, Holbrook Peterson & Smith PLLC, Knoxville. Family Law: Shari Myers, The Myers Law Firm, Memphis. Federal Practice: John McCann, Burch, Porter & Johnson, PLLC, Memphis. General Solo & Small Firm Practitioners: Sharon Frankenberg, Attorney at Law, Knoxville. Health Care Law: Walt Schuler, UT Health Science Center, Memphis. Immigration Law: Elaine Witty, Witty Law Group PLLC, Memphis. Intellectual Property: Alicia Brown Oliver, Chambliss Bahner & Stophel PC, Chattanooga. Juvenile & Children’s Law: Carl Seely, Divorce Inc., Jackson. Labor & Employment Law: Michael Rusie, Dollar General Corp., Goodlettsville. Law Office Technology & Management: Brandon Gibson, Pentecost & Glenn PLLC, Jackson. Litigation: Dan Coughlin, Massengill & Caldwell PC, Bristol. Real Estate Law: Brooks Smith, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Nashville. Tax Law: Jack Nichols, Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC, Memphis. Tort & Insurance Practice: Jim Wright, Butler, Vines & Babb, Knoxville.