TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Christy Gibson on Nov 13, 2013

Dear DR Section Members,

I am so happy to be this year’s DR Section Chair, having taken over from Steve Shields.   Our Executive Council is in place: Bob Arrington from Kingsport; Pat Vital from Chattanooga; Leigh Ann Robert, Ken Jackson, Wearen Hughes, and Ruth Hillis, all from the Nashville area; Linda Warren Seely from Jackson and Memphis, and our immediate past Chair, the immensely helpful and amazing Steve Shields.  We’ve been meeting by phone each month since August, and have come up with some good ideas for Section CLE, articles and other activities.  We would love some dialogue with each and every one of the Section members, so please find time to tell us what you would like to see covered over the next six months or so. 

Let me introduce myself: I’m Jackie Kittrell, I’m originally from Carthage, Tennessee (although my father was in the U.S. Navy, so I grew up by the ocean on the east coast).  I’m married, have three grown sons and a poodle, and live on a heritage farm in East Knox County.  I’ve lived in Knoxville since law school, having graduated from UT College of Law in 1988.  My practice of law has been diverse, involving public interest impact litigation, civil rights and employment cases, and doing pro bono work for Juvenile Court prior to taking over as Executive Director of the Community Mediation Center in Knoxville in 2006.  I am now challenged every day by how to use mediation services, delivered by volunteer mediators and law students we train, so that we can provide access to mediation, regardless of the ability to pay.  The disputes we handle range from those filed in General Sessions Civil Court---landlord tenant, neighborhood fences and dogs, contracts gone bad, roommates splitting up---to all manner of family cases and juvenile restorative justice matters involving bullying, assault, vandalism, theft, and more.  I believe the ability to safely and sustainably provide low cost mediation services to a largely pro se clientele, as well as screening cases out of mediation when necessary, into more appropriate social and legal service agencies, both public and private,  is worth it’s weight in gold to our overburdened justice system.    This kind of program is not unique to Knox County, and this largely invisible work is going on all across our State, in one form or another.  Just ask!

I also care very deeply about the state of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the State of Tennessee, especially how all of us can learn things from each other.  The practice of law (and DR) has become so full of new information, rules and ethical concerns, but much of the time, lawyers need to remain true to their “general practitioner” roots to do the best job for their client, identifying issues and looking holistically at their clients’ concerns.  In our EC meetings, we’ve talked about how we can offer CLE which will be useful to members of other sections, and how we can collaborate on articles for the TBA Journal which will be widely read and appreciated across the membership.  At the same time, we want to listen to feedback from our own DR Section membership, and invite those of you who would dare, to provide material for our Section Newsletter, edited by Ruth Hillis.

This year, our Executive Council will be drafting and publishing comments to the ADRC’s proposed changes to Rule 31 (due in January, 2014) as well as focusing our CLE on basic skills for both new and seasoned practitioners.  Stay tuned for more updates as we announce our annual CLE event to be held April 25, 2014!  Please connect with me via Christy Gibson at cgibson@tnbar.org or directly at Jackie.kittrell@gmail.com.