Nashville Lawyer Named Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Attorney of the Year

Award presented to Ross Booher at capitol ceremony

NASHVILLE, Jan. 19, 2008 — Nashville attorney Ross Booher, a partner with Bass, Berry & Sims PLC, was honored with the state's top award for pro bono work at the Tennessee Bar Association's annual public service luncheon. Held at the state capitol as part of the association's leadership conference, the luncheon featured award winners in several categories as well as a keynote address by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

Booher received the "2008 Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award" for his work on behalf of an officer who challenged Naval hiring policies, as well as the Kipp Academy, a public charter school in Nashville.

Booher took the case of Lieutenant Jason Hudson thinking it would be an easy win. Hudson had challenged a Navy hiring policy that had been used to block his advancement and Booher believed the policy was discriminatory on its face. However, it took four years and 1,100 hours to convince the Navy. After Booher worked his way up the chain of command through the Naval Inspector General, the Department of Defense Inspector General and several members of Congress, the Navy finally acknowledged that the policy was "legally indefensible." That admission cleared the way for Hudson's promotion to lieutenant commander. Because Hudson had experienced reprisals on the job due to his legal challenge, the department also issued stronger protections for whistleblowers.

A second client of Booher's is East Nashville's KIPP Academy, which serves at-risk middle school students as part of the nationally recognized "Knowledge is Power Program." To date, Booher has spent more than 500 hours serving as the school's general counsel and chair of its board of directors. KIPP principal Randy Dowell says the school "owes [it's] ability to teach to the work that Ross has done."

When asked what motivates him to take on such cases Booher said, "It's a core purpose of being an attorney to help people achieve justice."

A photograph of Booher is attached.

The Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award is given annually to a private sector attorney who has demonstrated dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to the poor and has performed significant pro bono work. Award recipients are nominated by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and approved by the Board of Governors. The award is named for Harris A. Gilbert who served as president of the TBA in 1994-1995 and whose dedication to legal services for the poor set a high standard for all Tennessee attorneys.


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.

For More Information

Stacey Shrader Joslin
Tennessee Bar Association
(615)277-3218
221 Fourth Ave. N., Suite 400
Nashville, TN 37219

Additional Information

Available photos



Law Student Volunteer of the Year Peggy Smith
• Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Ross Booher
• Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Russ Overby