Lawyers' Good Works Recognized at Public Service Luncheon

Tennessee lawyers from across the state were honored for their good works Saturday (Jan. 18) at the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon in Nashville (see video here). Close to 200 filled the War Memorial Auditorium to hear from the honorees and Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan.

McMillan recounted her rise from law school to lawyer to House representive as a "leap of faith" after she visited the House and wondered, after not seeing many women or young people, "where is anybody who looks like me?" So she decided she would do something about that and run. "I believed I could made a difference," she said, noting that the life of a public servant is full of hard choices. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do."

Award Honorees

Those honored included Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year.

When Harris Gilbert presented the award to Dooley, he said Dooley is "an emblem of what is right with the world today." Dooley attributed his success to "a commitment to serve people who cannot serve themselves."

"I love what I do," Yeomans said of her work with Legal Aid of East Tennessee. "I love helping those who don't have anywhere else to turn. It's why I became a lawyer -- I do it because there are so many people who need help."

In receiving the award, Blankenship praised her parents, Murfreesboro lawyers John T. and Patricia A. Blankenship, for teaching her what it means to be a good attorney. They set an example, she said, that the "profession is a privilege and it comes with a responsibility. They taught me what kind of lawyer I want to be, what kind of neighbor I want to be, and what kind of a person I want to be."

Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies. They are: the Everhart Law Firm, the Law Office of J. Houston Gordon, the Law Offices of Tony Seaton, the firm of Ramsey, Elore, Stone & Caffey; and the White & Rhodes firm.

TBA Leadership Conference 2014

TBA President Cindy Wyrick (from left) joins Charles "Buz" Dooley, Harris Gilbert, Deborah Yeomans, Katie Blankenship, Ashley Wiltshire, Alex MacKay and Jeffrey Usman.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

TBA President Cindy Wyrick.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

TBA Access to Justice Committee Chair Alex MacKay.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Ashley T. Wiltshire presents the award to Deborah Yeomans.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Harris Gilbert presents the award to Charles "Buz" Dooley.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Law Student Volunteer of the Year Katie Blankenship

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Keynote speaker Kim McMillan with Justice William Koch.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

McMillan with TBA YLD Immediate Past President David Veile (left) and TBA President-elect Jonathan Steen.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Award winner Deborah Yeomans (second from left) with her mother, Martha Yeomans, Ashley Wiltshire, and TBA ATJ Committee Member Carrie (Wiltshire) McCutcheon.

TBA Public Service Luncheon 2014

Nearly 200 gathered to hear Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and others at the Public Service Luncheon.