The Leadership Law Legacy

I love to work with lawyers, and one of the TBA's unique programs for lawyers that is very close to my heart is the highly successful TBA Leadership Law (TBALL) program, a leadership program designed specifically for the law profession. It was developed in 2004 as one of TBA President John Tarpley's initiatives. TBALL now has 195 alums and 32 members in the current class. The TBALL alum groups (each class graduates yearly in June) remain incredibly active within their class years and overall, and they are a huge resource for the TBA and for our profession. These alums go on to serve in the TBA on the Board of Governors, in the House of Delegates, in Sections and Committees, in their local and specialty bars, in the judiciary, in government service, in legal aid and nonprofits, and in other law-related service.

This visionary program has four goals:

  • To nurture effective leadership with respect to ethical, professional and community service issues.
  • To build relationships among legal leaders from across the state and from across disciplines within the profession.
  • To raise the level of awareness among lawyers regarding the broad range of issues facing the legal profession.
  • To enhance the diversity of leaders within the legal profession and the community as a whole.

Through Leadership Law, the TBA aims to serve the legal profession by equipping participants with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in the profession and in the community as a whole.

The program is achieving its goals and mission as evidenced by the great ongoing work of the alums locally, statewide and even nationally not just in the legal community but in their greater communities. I am most proud of this program for its strong emphasis on leadership in the community through leadership in the legal profession.

A few details about how the program works:

  • The TBALL program runs each year from January through June. Class members will have been to Montgomery Bell State Park, Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis before the program is completed, and they graduate at the TBA Annual Convention in Nashville in June this year.
  • There is a competitive selection process and candidates are nominated by lawyers and judges from across the state by alums, or they can self- nominate. Once nominated, each person is sent an application and each class is then selected by the TBALL Steering Committee based upon the substantive content of the applications and references. The Steering Committee each year selects a diverse group of approximately 30 attorneys from all across the state who have been identified as emerging leaders. The applicants must have already shown themselves to be actively committed and personally responsible, and most have from five to 15 years of experience in practice, although some may be more seasoned.
  • Program topics for each class include an overnight opening retreat focusing on leadership skills and monthly programs examining current issues in policy and politics, in the courts, in community leadership, leadership in action and a public service project.

Some examples of the practice diversity of current class members and alums include lawyers from large firms, small firms, solo practitioners, corporate attorneys, in-house attorneys, government attorneys, including Tennessee lawyers serving in Washington, D.C., judges, court clerks, lawyers with legal aid and other nonprofit organizations, lawyers in academics, lawyers in law-related organizations, lawyer-legislators, and more. The geographic diversity of the program literally includes class members from Memphis to Mountain City, as the program has a strong emphasis on achieving size and location geographic diversity.

TBALL calls upon many, many volunteer lawyers, judges and laypeople to plan and present the award-winning programs each year " and those numbers now approach 1,000 volunteers. These are volunteers who give their time and talents to teach, share and challenge each class with no remuneration other than the reward of intellectually stimulating and personally gratifying time spent with our legacy " the lawyer leaders of the future. These volunteers drive many hours on workdays just to spend sometimes a single hour with the class, but they continue to do so because they all believe they gain more than they give. TBALL also relies heavily upon the sponsorship of lawyers, law firms and corporations who continue to financially support the program each year. With that huge volunteer effort, our great and loyal sponsors and the success of the Leadership Law program in Tennessee after seven years, we all truly benefit.

Thank you to all of the Tennessee lawyers, judges and academicians who have served on and are now serving on the TBALL Steering Committee, to the TBA staff who work hard for this beloved program, particularly TBALL Director Monica Mackie, to all volunteer lawyers, judges and lay people who continue to give their time to this program, to the sponsors who continue to give financially and in-kind to the program, and especially to the alums, who make us all look good!

To see a list of the current TBALL class, all of the TBALL alums and the Steering Committee, go to http://www.tba.org/tba-group/leadership-law-alumni