A Young Lawyer Seeks, Wins Judgeship

By Mary Beth Haltom

Raised in Marshall County, Tenn., Lee Bussart Bowles is now serving as that county's first full-time General Sessions Court judge. Last summer, Marshall County's population grew enough that a full-time sessions judge was needed. Many potential applicants decided to forego seeking the appointment in part because it would require the attorney to completely close his or her private law practice by the second week of April 2012, just six months after the appointment. But that requirement did not deter Lee Bussart Bowles. As she had done so many times since beginning her legal career in 2001, Bowles recognized the need in her community, set aside the more lucrative salary she was earning in private practice, and decided to serve the people in her county. She applied for the position, and the county commission appointed her to the bench on Oct. 6, 2011.

After taking the bench, Judge Bowles immediately began implementing programs to improve the general sessions court in her hometown. For example, she placed a primary focus on juveniles and created an entire day to handle juvenile proceedings just months after taking the bench. But despite the appointment, Judge Bowles could not "sit back" and become lax in her new position as the appointment only lasted until the next general election set for Aug. 2, 2012.

Ask anyone who has campaigned and they will tell you one thing: it is time consuming and all encompassing. Judge Bowles attended various community outings during her campaign, including the Miss Marshall County Pageant, the Five Point Ice Cream Supper (I've only attended ice cream socials, not suppers!), tractor pulls, May Fest, coffee clubs, senior citizen meetings, cancer benefits, study clubs and Kiwanis meetings. (Yes, some of these events are unique to Marshall County.) Her campaign took her all over the county. Judge Bowles talked to people, knocked on doors, held babies, and showed the people of her home county that she cared about them and their future. On Aug. 2, 2012, the people of Marshall County spoke during the general election and elected Lee Bussart Bowles as the county's first-ever full time general sessions judge. Judge Bowles bested her challenger by a 3-2 margin. Her tenure on the bench will last until September 2014 when the former part-time judge’s term would have ended.

Serving people is nothing new to Judge Bowles. A 2001 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Bowles began her legal career as a small town lawyer in Virginia. She then moved back to Lewisburg in 2002 to work with her father, Walter Bussart. During her decade-long private practice legal career, Bowles served in numerous roles in both the community and the legal profession. She is a past president of the Lewisburg Rotary Club, a former board member of the Marshall Education Foundation and a member of Marshall County's inaugural committee for the Goats, Music and More Festival (yes, this is most definitely unique to Marshall County!).

 
Bowles (center) joined with TBA President
Cindy Wyrick and Nashville Bar Association
YLD President Robb Bigelow to welcome
new admittees to the practice of law at the
Nashville swearing-in ceremony in November

Her service does not stop with her community though. She has been active in professional legal organizations, including serving on the board of the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (YLD) since 2004 and holding positions in the ABA House of Delegates and ABA YLD. She currently holds the position of Tennessee young lawyer delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, delegate to the ABA YLD Assembly and a key leader in the ABA YLD’s anti-bullying initiative this year. At the TBA, she holds the coveted position of YLD concierge. And for anyone who knows Judge Bowles, the concierge position fits her perfectly!

In her short time on the bench, Judge Bowles has already assumed several leadership positions within the judiciary. She has been appointed as the ABA YLD liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Judicial Independence and is the middle district vice president of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference.

I am confident that whatever the future holds for Judge Bowles, she will make service to the community, the legal profession and the judiciary a priority. Her track record over the past decade suggests nothing less. We should all strive to be more like Judge Bowles!

 

TBA YLD members at the ABA YLD Fall 2013 Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., in October. Judge Lee Bussart Bowles (far right) was one of the presenters at a session titled “From the Trenches: Stories and Practical Tips from Those on the Bullying Front Lines.”

Pictured from left to right are: Justin Faith, Stacie Winkler, Rachel Moses, Mary Beth Haltom, Brittany Thomas and Judge Lee Bussart Bowles.

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Mary Beth Haltom is an attorney with Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop in Nashville and is active in the Tennessee Bar Association YLD and the American Bar Association YLD, where she serves as the district representative for Tennessee and Kentucky. At her firm, she handles commercial and business litigation, with an emphasis on commercial transportation and franchise litigation. She can be reached at mhaltom@lewisking.com or (615) 259-1389.

TENNESSEE YOUNG LAWYER
FALL 2013

YLD IN THE COMMUNITY

Editors Note: Each issue of TYL will include news about a young lawyer or young lawyer organization making a difference in their local community. To suggest someone to be featured, contact TYL Editor Justin Faith and and Publications Committee Chair Chaz Molder.