Lawyers Honored for Service at 2013 TBA Convention

Award recipients recognized for service to the profession and public at annual event in Nashville

NASHVILLE, June 20, 2013 — A select group of Tennessee lawyers were honored for their work serving the legal profession and the public during the Tennessee Bar Association’s recent convention in Nashville.

Award recipients included:

Drowota Judicial Service Award
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice M. Holder was honored with the association’s Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award for her work with lawyers’ assistance programs in the state and access to justice issues.

Justice Holder first became interested in helping lawyers facing addiction when she was a practicing attorney in Memphis. She was a founder of a local program called Lawyers Helping Lawyers and then helped create a statewide program, now known as the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). She also served as the court’s liaison to TLAP for many years. In addition to this work, Justice Holder was recognized for her leadership on access to justice issues. Under her direction in 2009, the court formed its own Access to Justice Commission, which is dedicated to finding new ways to meet the growing need in the state for affordable, and often free, legal services. She is nationally known for promoting the judiciary’s role in pro bono delivery and speaks often on the topic. She also continues to serve as the court’s liaison to the commission and is actively involved in its initiatives.

The Drowota Award is given to a judge or judicial branch official of a federal, state or local court in Tennessee who has demonstrated extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice as exemplified by the career of former Supreme Court Justice Frank F. Drowota III – the award’s first recipient. Thanks to a recent donation by Justice Drowota, who was on hand to present the award to Holder, and a matching gift from the Frist Foundation, the award now allows the recipient to direct a gift of $1,000 to the charity of his or her choice.

Justice Holder has served on the state Supreme Court since 1996. In September 2008 she became the court’s first female chief justice and served in the position until 2010. Prior to her appointment, she served as a circuit court judge in Memphis for six years. She earned her law degree from the Duquesne University School of Law in 1975.

Justice Joseph W. Henry Award & Larry Dean Wilks Leadership Award
Knoxville lawyer Daniel Headrick received two awards at this year’s convention. The first, the Justice Joseph W. Henry Award, recognizes the best article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal during the preceding year. Headrick was recognized for his article “How to Act During a Deposition,” which was published in the December 2012 issue of the magazine. He also won a cash prize of $500.

The Justice Joseph W. Henry Award, established in 1981, is given each year to encourage practicing Tennessee lawyers to write scholarly yet practical articles for the benefit of their colleagues. Headrick’s article was judged best by a committee of TBA President Jacqueline B. Dixon, Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade and Vanderbilt University Law School Dean Chris Guthrie.

Headrick also recently completed the TBA’s Leadership Law program and was selected by his fellow class members as this year’s recipient of the Larry Dean Wilks Leadership Award. The award, named for former TBA President Larry D. Wilks, recognizes a class member with exceptional leadership qualities.

Headrick is an associate attorney at the Knoxville firm of Paine, Tarwater, & Bickers, practicing civil litigation in a variety of areas, including employment law, product liability, personal injury and construction law. He received his undergraduate and master's degrees in religious studies from the University of Tennessee. While a student at the University of Tennessee College of Law, he was active in Law Review and twice served as a member of the National Moot Court team. He was elected to the Order of Barristers and the Order of the Coif and received several awards in recognition of his moot court work. He graduated from the College of Law with highest honors in May 2007.

William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award
The late Memphis lawyer Elizabeth T. Collins received the William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award for her service to the practice of law, the bar and the profession. Given annually by the TBA Young Lawyers Division Fellows, the award is named for former Attorney General William M. Leech and honors a lawyer who has given outstanding service to the profession, legal system and the community.

Collins, who died May 23 from cancer, was a partner with the law firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. Collins served on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and was a member of the Leo Bearman Sr. American Inn of Court. In 2011, she became the youngest person ever to receive the Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Lawyer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Memphis Bar Association. The Fellows selected Collins for the award for her commitment to improving the legal profession in Tennessee and her personal dedication to live life to its fullest during her illness. The award was presented by Knoxville lawyer and Fellows President Angelia Nystrom.

Presidents’ Awards
Each year the TBA president designates certain individuals to be honored for their work during his or her year in office. This year, outgoing president Jacqueline Dixon presented six awards.

Tennessee State Senator J. Doug Overbey was recognized for sponsoring the TBA’s conservatorship reform legislation in the Senate and shepherding the bill through the legislative process. Sen. Overbey has served in the Senate since 2009. Prior to that he served eight years in the House of Representatives. He founded his law firm Robertson, Overbey, Wilson & Beeler in Maryville in 1982 and continues to practice law when the legislature is not in session.

Tennessee State Rep. Andy Farmer also was recognized for his support and leadership in moving the TBA’s conservatorship reform legislation through the General Assembly. Rep. Farmer introduced the bill in the House of Representatives and spearheaded consideration of the legislation in that body. He practices law in Sevierville when the legislature is not in session.

Hendersonville lawyer Kathryn “Kay” Caudle was recognized for her work as chair of the TBA Attorney Well Being Committee. In this role, Caudle was instrumental in producing a “well being” issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal and planning this year’s convention program “Better Next Year,” which featured vendors and speakers presenting on a variety of health and wellness topics. Caudle is general counsel at Smith Travel Research Inc.

Nashville lawyer Marisa L. Combs was recognized for her work as co-chair of the Ethics & Professional Responsibility Committee’s Transition Subcommittee. The subcommittee, created just a year ago, worked diligently this year to present a comprehensive plan on how lawyers can plan for the transition of their law practice in the case of death, disability, retirement or incompentency. The issue arose after Combs assisted with the closing of former TBA President and Springfield lawyer Larry Wilks’ law office after his untimely death. Combs, who once worked for Wilks, now practices with Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop.

Chattanooga lawyer Hugh Kendall was recognized for his work as co-chair of the Ethics & Professional Responsibility Committee’s Transition Subcommittee. Together with Combs, Kendall drafted proposed changes to the rules governing this issue, as well as materials for lawyers transitioning their law practices. Kendall and Combs also produced a seminar on the topic.

Chattanooga lawyer Chris Varner was recognized for his service as chair of the TBA’s Mentoring Task Force. Created at the beginning of the bar year, the task force collected information on all current mentoring programs in the state and provided information about them to TBA members. After assessing the needs and current resources, the task force recommended that the TBA launch its own six-month mentoring program, which will begin this coming fall. The program will provide much-needed resources and guidance for new lawyers, many of whom are graduating from law school without jobs. Varner practices with Evans, Harrison Hackett.


The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 13,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.