People

Tennessee Justice Center honors mothers
Michele Johnson, managing attorney of the Tennessee Justice Center, presented a family portrait to Judy Eaves of Chattanooga, one of five mothers honored by the center as "Mother of the Year." Each woman is mother to a child who is sick or disabled. They were honored for their devotion and commitment to their children and to all TennCare children and families. A reception in Nashville for the mothers was hosted by Stites and Harbison LLC and sponsored by SunTrust Bank.

The Nashville School of Law honored three attorneys at its 15th annual recognition dinner on June 6. Sen. Douglas Henry Jr., the nephew of one of the school's four original founders, Robert Selph Henry, was honored with the annual Community Service Award. Henry has served as a state senator since 1970 and has been a strong advocate for children and education. He also practices law in Nashville. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1951. - Faculty member Mark Westlake was given the Distinguished Faculty Award. He has been a tax law instructor at the school since 1984. A partner with Gullett, Stanford, Robinson & Martin PLLC, Westlake currently serves as treasurer of the Tennessee Bar Association. He earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1977. - Adams & Reese attorney Anne Russell received the Distinguished Alumni Award. She graduated from the school in 1984 and now works as a civil litigator.

The law firm of Gilbert Russell McWherter PLC recently changed its name and added four new attorneys to its Jackson office. Jonathan L. Bobbitt earned his law degree from the University of Memphis and a masters in business administration from Union University. He focuses his practice on labor and employment. Lowe Finney graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law in 2001. Following graduation he clerked for Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge John Everett Williams. In 2006, Finney was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly from the 27th Senate District. In that body, he serves as secretary and treasurer of the Democratic Caucus and vice chair of the State and Local Government Committee. He also maintains an active law practice. J. Brandon McWherter is a partner with the firm's litigation group, where he focuses on municipal law, construction litigation, commercial litigation, products liability, civil rights and insurance. He earned his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law in May 2001. Clinton H. Scott is an associate with the litigation group. He obtained his law degree in 2003 from the University of Memphis School of Law, where he served as comments editor for the University of Memphis Law Review.

Frost Brown Todd LLC recently announced that Tim Crenshaw has joined its Nashville office, where he will serve in the Construction Law Group. Crenshaw represents project owners, construction managers and contractors in risk management, contract issues, and resolution construction disputes. A native Nashvillian, he earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1986.

M. Beth Boone, previously with Ware and Boone in Nashville, has opened a solo practice in Brunswick, Ga., where she will focus on general trial work, with an emphasis on probate law. Boone earned her law degree in 1998 from the Nashville School of Law and subsequently served as a law clerk to Judge Frank G. Clement Jr. when he was Seventh Circuit Judge for Davidson County. She was admitted to the Georgia bar in February.

Memphis attorney Charles Key has joined the health care practice of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP. In his new post he will focus on general health law, including regulation of provider conduct, Medicare reimbursement, antitrust, insurance, privacy of health information, medical peer review, managed care and licensing. Key is editorial board chair of the American Bar Association's The Health Lawyer, and is a former chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Health Law Section.

Samuel D. Payne, formerly a partner at the Nashville law firm of Evans, Jones and Reynolds PC, has moved his practice to the firm of Rudy, Wood & Winstead PLLC, also in Nashville. Payne focuses his work in the areas of business/commercial litigation, workers' compensation, legal malpractice defense and other civil litigation, with an emphasis on labor and employment law. A native Nashvillian, he earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1992.

Civil justice attorney Jim Bilbo has announced the opening of the Bilbo Law Office in Cleveland. Bilbo has been a practicing attorney in Cleveland since 1985, and will continue to represent those seriously injured, and the families of those killed, as a result of negligent acts. He is board certified in civil trial advocacy and state-certified as a civil trial specialist. Bilbo is a former president of the Tennessee Association for Justice and member of the American Association for Justice's Council of Presidents.

Gordon Bonnyman Jr., executive director and cofounder of the Tennessee Justice Center, has received the Economic Justice Award from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ). The award was presented to Bonnyman in May during the organization's annual awards dinner in New York City. He is the first Tennessean to receive the award. NCLEJ advances the cause of economic justice for low-income families, individuals and communities across the country.

Michele Johnson, managing attorney of the TJC, has received the 2008 Long Haul Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Progress (TAP) in recognition of her advocacy for children's health services. The award was presented on May 16 in conjunction with TAP's annual statewide conference. Johnson cofounded the TJC in 1996 and has focused her work over the years on children with special health care needs.

The Nashville office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith LLC was recently recognized by the Tennessee Employer Support for the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) for its legal assistance to the organization and service members. The adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard, on behalf of ESGR, presented the Seven Seals Award to the firm on May 15. Lawyer Mary Dohner Smith also was honored with a Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support to employers of Guard and Reserve members. She practices labor and employment law at the firm and volunteers her time helping Guard and Reserve troops transition back into their civilian jobs.

Demeka K. Church has joined Green Family Law Office in Brentwood, where she will handle divorce, parentage, adoption and other family law matters. Church earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi in 2006. She is licensed in both Tennessee and Mississippi.

Stephen Ross Johnson has been named a partner in the Knoxville law firm of Ritchie, Dillard & Davies PC, where he has served since graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2002. Johnson focuses his practice on the defense of white-collar crimes, major felonies and other charges in federal and state court. For three consecutive years he has served as chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section.

Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry lawyers Gino Bulso and George Nolan have joined with Bill Leader, a former member of the firm, to open a new trial and appellate practice in Nashville. Initially to be known as Leader & Bulso PLC, the firm name will change to Leader, Bulso & Nolan PLC when Nolan joins the office in mid-July. Bulso practiced at Boult Cummings for 22 years, joining the firm after graduating from law school. He focuses his practice on business and commercial litigation. Leader was an attorney with Boult Cummings for 18 years before opening Leader & Associates PLC. He primarily handles personal injury litigation. Nolan practiced at Boult Cummings for 17 years, primarily in the area of tort litigation. He also maintains an active practice in the areas of business, insurance, environmental and eminent domain litigation. The firm will be located on the 17th floor of the Bank of America building at 414 Union St., Suite 1740 in Nashville.

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Passages
Powell lawyer CHARLES GORDON died May 5 at the age of 80. Gordon earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and began practicing law in 1975. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville.

JOE B. JACKSON died April 22 at age 87. A former Murfreesboro mayor, vice mayor and city councilman, Jackson had a public career that spanned 30 years. After returning from a tour of duty in World War II, Jackson used the GI Bill to attend law school. He graduated from the Nashville School of Law in 1954 and passed the Tennessee bar exam, but decided to pursue a career in the construction industry. Jackson was active in his local community, serving as president of the hospital board and Exchange Club and as a member of the school board and recreation commission, among other city bodies. He was elected Tennessee mayor of the year in 1988 and holds the record as Murfreesboro's longest serving chief executive. The family requests that memorials in his honor be made to the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society or Alive Hospice.

JOHN L. WILLIAMS, a former county and state official, died May 9 at his home in Huntingdon. He was 80 years old. Following high school graduation and service in World War II, Williams - then 22 - became the youngest circuit court clerk in Tennessee. After studying pre-law at the University of Tennessee and Bethel College, he graduated from the Cumberland School of Law in 1954. Williams practiced law in Huntingdon and in 1966 was elected District Attorney General for the 24th Judicial District. He served in that capacity until 1982. From 1972 to 1973, he was president of the District Attorney General Association.