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Nashville Legal Aid Lawyer Named 2013 Public Service Attorney of the Year
Award presented to Jean Crowe at luncheon ceremony
NASHVILLE, Jan. 25, 2013 -- Nashville lawyer Jean Crowe was honored as the state's top public service attorney by the Tennessee Bar Association at a luncheon on Saturday. Held each year as part of the association's Leadership Conference, the luncheon featured award winners in several categories and a keynote address by Deborah Taylor Tate, a Tennessee lawyer and former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.
Crowe received the 2013 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award for her career-long commitment to providing legal representation to the less fortunate in Davidson County. For nearly three decades, Crowe has worked in the Nashville office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. She has served as lead attorney of the agency's Family Law Section for 15 years.
Crowe's work has earned her a reputation as a family law expert across Tennessee and the nation. She also has been instrumental in crafting family law legislation in the state, including parenting plan legislation that took effect in 2001. One supporter of Crowe's nomination remarked that he could think of no one who had made a greater contribution to legislative efforts to protect domestic violence victims, women and children than Crowe. Those who have been helped by her advocacy say she has saved their lives. But Crowe rejects that characterization. "I never think I saved them," Crowe says. "My whole goal is for them to think they saved themselves. That's really important. Maybe I helped them, but they have to do it for themselves. I didn't do it for them."
Crowe earned her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1981 and practiced in a small law firm in Madison, Wis., before moving to Tennessee.
The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award is given annually to an attorney who has committed to a career in public service, and over the course of that career, has gone above and beyond the call of duty in representing indigent clients. The award is named for Ashley Wiltshire, the former executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, who served the agency in various roles for 37 years. Wiltshire was on hand to present the award with Alexandra MacKay, chair of the TBA's Access to Justice Committee and member with the Nashville law firm of Stites & Harbison.
Speaking at the luncheon, TBA President Jackie Dixon congratulated Crowe, saying she had gone above and beyond in her commitment to provide access to justice for those in need. She also commented on the importance of the awards, saying they provide a unique opportunity to recognize the public service commitment of Tennessee lawyers and celebrate the many ways lawyers are reducing barriers to legal assistance in the state. She concluded with a challenge to fellow lawyers in the room to do more, saying the event was also "a reminder of the vast unmet legal needs of the underserved in our state."
The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 11,000 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.