Cookeville Attorney Rachel Moses Sets Bar for Service

By Philip A. Hatch Jr.

What legacy will you have as an attorney? Better yet, what reputation do you have now as a young lawyer? Over the course of the last three years I have had the opportunity to serve with an individual who, in my opinion, epitomizes the essence of the young lawyer. The bylaws of the TBA YLD provide guidance to what the “purpose” of our division is, and in turn what we as members should strive to follow. Those basic principles include:

  • Serving the profession and the public through activities and programs;
  • Sponsoring activities of particular interest and value to young lawyers;
  • Providing continuing legal education specifically designed for young lawyers;
  • Supporting the activities of the various young lawyer groups in Tennessee; and
  • Supporting the work of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Over the last three years I have watched Rachel Moses consistently and successfully address each of these goals, serving the legal profession and the public through a variety of activities and programs that she has developed or has implemented with the help of others.

Moses has been employed as an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee since her graduation from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2002. She works in the society’s Cookeville office and has become a force to be reckoned with in the Upper Cumberland! She was the primary influence behind the creation of the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association (UCYLA) and has continued to provide leadership to the group. As the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (TBA YLD) District 6 representative, Moses set the bar for public service, receiving both the TBA YLD’s Public Service Day Project of the Year Award and the President's Distinguished Service Award. She most recently was recognized when her peers elected her to service as vice president of the YLD -- a move that puts her in line to lead the group in 2015-2016.

I first interacted with Moses in the spring of 2009 prior to my graduation from law school. She had invited me to a small gathering of young attorneys in Cookeville. There were four others at the dinner. That night, I heard Moses set forth a vision in which young lawyers from our area would have a group of peers they could meet with on a regular basis to exchange stories, tips and advice.

Over the last three and a half years I have seen that vision become a reality. In January of 2010, the TBA YLD officially recognized the UCYLA as an affiliate member and I had the honor of serving as its first president. Since that time, the UCYLA has grown into a much larger group with more than 20 young lawyers attending monthly meetings. Our membership represents six area counties, two judicial districts, six county bar associations and at least eight different law schools. That growth in numbers is due in large part to the hard work, determination and solid leadership of Rachel Moses.

Moses also brought her commitment to serving the public and profession to the UCYLA. Among the most successful was a diaper drive to benefit Genesis House, a domestic violence shelter that serves nine surrounding counties. Over 2,000 diapers and wipes were collected and donated as a result of that initiative.

 


Moses with then TBA YLD President Mason Wilson
after receving two awards for her service

The next year, she planned the first annual Jog and Jam for Justice, which raised money for pro bono work -- a cause that is close to her heart. In service to the profession, she advocated for better CLE programs in the Upper Cumberland, established an annual swearing in ceremony for new bar admittees and facilitated "Coffee Talk with the Judges," another yearly event in which local judges join area young lawyers at a restaurant for the chance to interact in a less formal setting.

And as if service to the TBA YLD and UCYLA was not enough, Rachel simultaneously got involved with the TBA’s Public Education Committee and soon was chairing its YouTube Video Contest Subcommittee. She also rose through the ranks of the Putnam County Bar Association, serving as its president this year.

In addition to being present in the community due to the nature of her work and her legal volunteer activities, Rachel can be found at the Cookeville Evening Lion’s Club or the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary any day of the week as an active member of both organizations. Her work with these groups has included setting the record for eye exams offered to Putnam County preschoolers and kindergartners. Because of her leadership, Moses has become a familiar face not only in Cookeville but also throughout the state. Her face, literally, can be found at the Knoxville Airport or driving down Interstate 40 after Rotary decided to feature her on billboards in their End Polio Now campaign.


Rotary billboards across the state tout Moses as a polio eradicator

 

I believe it is important for young lawyers and not-so-young lawyers to see what being a lawyer is all about. Sure it is exciting to win a big case or find the perfect case to support a position, but it is so much more than that. It is about using our unique skills to help others. I recently heard a group of young lawyers discuss why they chose the practice of law as a profession. Their response -- and one that I am sure many of us would agree with -- was that they wanted to help people. As I thought more about that discussion, I began to ask myself whether I have used the knowledge and experience I have gained to help others. My honest assessment was, “Not as much as I should have.” Others reading this may come to the same conclusion.

While I am not suggesting that we compile a resume to rival Moses, we should make the most of the abilities we have to help those in need.

The next time you see Rachel Moses you should pat her on the back and tell her “job well done,” though I suspect she is not done yet.

___________________________

Philip Hatch is an assistant district attorney with the 13th Judicial District Attorney General’s office in Cookeville. He earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 2009. He is a past president of the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association and currently serves on the TBA YLD Board as vice chair of the Public Service Committee. Hatch can be reached at lawhatch@gmail.com.

 

TENNESSEE YOUNG LAWYER
FALL 2013


FACE OF THE YOUNG LAWYER

Editor’s Note: If you know a young lawyer who is doing something interesting, making waves or forging their own path, the TYL would like to know. Please contact TYL Editor Justin Faith and Publications Committee Chair Chaz Molder with any suggestions for future “Face of the Young Lawyer” features.