Memphis Event Draws Rave Reviews

Big name speakers, big time programs and big crowds made the 2009 Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention in Memphis, June 18-20, a big success. Kicking off activities was a joint education session with the Tennessee Judicial Conference, followed by an address from former University of Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. In his speech, Fulmer reflected on outgoing TBA President Buck Lewis' theme for the year " Leaving a Proud and Enduring Legacy " with his own thoughts about building a legacy.

At the convention, Nashville attorney Gail Vaughn Ashworth was installed as the association's 127th president.   Saying she will continue work to expand access to justice, increase diversity in the profession, and boost civics education, she added: "I pledge to work hard and closely with the leaders coming beside and behind me." Ashworth is a partner with Gideon & Wiseman in Nashville.

A number of Tennessee attorneys were also honored at the Lawyers Luncheon. The Frank F. Drowota award was presented to Judge Herschel P. Franks; President's Awards were given to Danny Van Horn, Allan Ramsaur and Linda Warren Seely; and J. Ross Pepper of Nashville won the Joe Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing for his Tennessee Bar Journal article, "Recovering Lost Profits."

The Fellows of the TBA Young Lawyers Division gave its William M. Leech Public Service Award posthumously to Ross Alderman, which was accepted by his wife, Judge Patricia Cottrell.

In a popular session, Harold Ford Jr., and former U.S. Senator Howard Baker discussed "how to get the country back on track." They both stressed the need for a middle-of-the-road approach to government rather than being mired in political partisanship in Congress. "The political system continues to work," Baker said. "There is a level of polarization. But, there's also a level of cooperation."

At the Young Lawyers Division annual meeting and elections, Nashville lawyer David Changas assumed the presidency of the group and Memphis lawyer Mason Wilson was elected vice president. Wilson will serve as YLD president in 2011-2012.

Jackson attorney Paul Whitt and Knoxville lawyer Chris McCarty won YLD President's Awards for their work as chair and vice chair of the Wills for Heroes Committee " which organized 13 legal clinics and served 416 first responders and their families across the state this past year. The awards were given at the TBA Young Lawyers Division and Fellows' annual dinner during the convention. Chattanooga attorney David McDowell   won best service project of the year for a golf tournament he sponsored, which raised more than $12,000 for a local charity.
Also during the Memphis event, the TBA YLD Fellows held its annual meeting and elected new officers for the coming year. The group now will be led by Blountville Judge Rob Montgomery, president; Nashville lawyer Scott Carey, vice president; Sevierville lawyer Cynthia Richardson Wyrick, secretary; and Knoxville lawyer Angelia Morie Nystrom, treasurer. Jackson attorney Jonathan O. Steen presided over the meeting and assumed the position of immediate past president.

The annual TBA Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala was June 16. Awards were presented to the law firm and corporate legal department that best exemplified extraordinary commitment to access to justice ideals, pro bono service and the Corporate Counsel Covenant of Service this past year. The Hardison Law Firm of Memphis was recognized for its longstanding commitment to pro bono work, including participation in the Memphis Bar Association's Attorney of the Day Program and free Saturday legal clinics, the Memphis Advance Directive Initiative, and disaster legal assistance clinics. The corporate award went to the FedEx Legal Department for its partnership with Memphis Area Legal Services. Department lawyers donated more than $52,000 to MALS, sponsored 10 CLE programs to provide free training to volunteer and staff attorneys, and made its attorneys available to serve on various boards and committees.

Also, the 2009 TBA Leadership Law class celebrated its graduation from the program during the convention. This year's class had more than 30 attorneys from across the state. Before graduation ceremonies, class members helped more than 50 clients at a legal clinic in Memphis operated by Memphis Area Legal Services.

See more award winners, events and convention fun at www.tba2.org/convention2009/scenes.html