TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Jun 26, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Jul 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 7

Bar Foundation Awards More Than $1.1 Million

The Tennessee Bar Foundation has awarded $1,122,735, from the Tennessee Legal Initiatives Fund (TLIF) intended to be used to “extend the capacity of organizations to break the cycle of poverty and the barriers to justice by using civil legal aid and education to increase productivity and success for vulnerable populations.”

Organizations receiving grants include the Choosing Justice Initiative, the Community Legal Center, Dismas House Inc., Legal Aid of East Tennessee, the Memphis Bar Foundation, the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, the Tennessee Justice Center, Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, The Justice Initiative, and the University of Tennessee College of Law’s Legal Clinic. 

More than 50 new attorneys were welcomed to the practice of law June 4 during ceremonies at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. Chief Justice Jeff Bivins presided at the ceremony, with Justice Connie Clark also on the bench. The Tennessee Bar Association welcomed the new attorneys and their families at a reception preceding the ceremony. TBA then-President Jason Pannu introduced many of the candidates to the court for admission.


New Podcast, ‘SideBar,’ Gears Up This Summer

Kate Prince interviews Stacie Odeneal for Sidebar, one of the TBA’s new podcast channels, launching July 1. Prince is the TBA’s leadership development and innovations coordinator.



Sheppeard is TBA’s 139th President

Knoxville lawyer Sarah Y. Sheppeard was sworn in as president of the Tennessee Bar Association June 14 during the annual convention in Nashville with Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins administering the oath of office. Sheppeard, a shareholder with Lewis Thomason’s Knoxville office, is also a Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator. Sarah practices in the areas of domestic relations, estates, commercial law and general civil litigation. She has been a lecturer with the Tennessee Law Institute since 1988 and was chair of the Tennessee Judicial Evaluation Commission. For 15 years she was an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, was previously a member of the Tennessee Law Review, and has chaired the Tennessee Bar Association Litigation Section and CLE Committee. A past-president of the Knoxville Bar Association, she is a fellow in the Knoxville, Tennessee and American Bar Foundations, as well as and the Fellows of the Tennessee Young Lawyers Division.

Jason Pannu of Lewis Thomason’s Nashivlle office ended his term as president at the convention. Jackson lawyer Michelle Greenway Sellers, with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell PLC, is president-elect. Sherie Edwards, with State Volunteer Mutual Insurance in Brentwood, is vice president.
Members who retired from the Board of Governors and were recognized at the luncheon are Ramona DeSalvo, Mason Wilson, Christian Barker, Judge Tim Easter, Kim Helper (who will stay on as an invited representative of the District Attorneys General Conference), John Partin, Brian Winfrey and Lucian Pera. Pera rolled off the board as past president, but will stay involved working on some special projects for the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation.

Members new to the board are Ahsaki Baptist, Amy Bryant and Heidi Barcus.

Gathering for the convention’s Opening Reception are, from left, Debra House, Jim Barry, DarKenya Waller, Dave Yoder, Sheri Fox and Cathy Allshouse


The 2019-20 TBA Board of Governors, bottom row, from left: Ed Lanquist, Andy Roskind Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson, President Sarah Sheppeard, Mary Dohner-Smith, Matt Willis. 2nd Row: Trey Thacher, Tasha Blakney, Jamie Durrett, Shelly Wilson, Terica Smith. 3rd Row: Rachel Moses, Jason Pannu, Michelle Greenway Sellers, Troy Weston, Sherie Edwards and Mary Beth Maddox. Back Row: David Veile, John Farringer, Jim Barry, Deborah Yeomans-Barton, Jim Cartiglia and Aimee Luna.


Bill Haltom presents the Young Lawyers Division Fellows’ William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award to Hal Hardin, as Jason Pannu, Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Judge Tim Easter and Sen. Lamar Alexander applaud.


TBALL Class of 2019 member Tannera Gibson receives the Larry Dean Wilks Leadership Award from TBALL co-chairs, Trey Thacher and Loretta Cravens during the program’s graduation ceremony on June 14.


Hal Hardin, Congressman Bob Clement and Judge Ken Starr participate in the Bench/Bar CLE discussing historical events and Starr shared his experience as independent special counsel.


At the Young Lawyers Division dinner, the gavel was passed from outgoing president Christian Barker, right, to the 2019-20 president, Troy Weston.


Jason Pannu, left, presents the Frank F. Drowota III Award to Dean William Koch.


The luncheon also featured recognition of Senior Counselors. The Senior Counselors in attendance were Patrick Ruth, Wes Hall, Marbut Gaston and Alex Hurder.
Others were recognized for outstanding work throughout the past year:

  • Stuart Burkhalter was honored with the Justice Joe Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing for the best article published in the Tennessee Bar Journal in 2018.  He was chosen this year by a panel of judges for “Who Pays? ‘Dedmon’ Clarifies Use of Medical Bills in Hospital Lien Law, Upholds Collateral Source Rule,” which was published in the April 2018 edition. Burkhalter is an attorney with Riley Warnock & Jacobson PLC in Nashville and represents providers in managed care disputes and other litigation. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School. His writing on litigation issues affecting the health care industry has previously been published in the AHLA Journal of Health & Life Sciences Law. The award is named for Justice Joseph W. Henry, a former chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The award was established in 1981 to encourage scholarly yet practical writing to benefit members of the bar. The winner was chosen this year by a panel that included Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Dean William Koch, Dean Alberto Gonzales, Dean Chris Guthrie, and Jason Pannu.
  • Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Dean William C. Koch Jr. was honored with the Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award. Named in honor of the late Tennessee Chief Justice Frank Drowo- ta, this is the TBA’s highest award for service to the judiciary and has been given annually for more than a decade.
  • Koch has many accomplishments throughout his career, which Pannu touched on but highlighted three major accomplishments, saying he is president and a founder of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court; he has served on the national board of the American Inns of Court and garnered such a great reputation that he was recently elected president of the American Inns of Court; and after leaving the bench, Koch continued his commitment to service by taking the position as dean of Nashville School of Law, helping to educate and shape the career advancement of countless numbers of law students.

    “Finally,” Pannu continued, “he has provided invaluable insight, time and dedication to issues related to indigent representation reform during his time as chair of Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force.“
  • Hal Hardin was honored with this year’s prestigious William M. Leech Jr. Public Service Award, presented by the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division Fellows. The Leech Award is pre- sented each year to a Tennessee lawyer who has given outstanding service to the legal profession, the legal system and the local community.
  • Pannu recognized two individuals with President’s Awards: Senator Lamar Alexander and Mary Dohner-Smith.
  • Alexander was honored for his “commitment and service to the people of this state and for setting an example for lawyers of the many opportunities to serve our community.”
  • Dohner-Smith, as TBA treasurer provided guidance and leadership, working “tirelessly over the past two years through many transitions in staff leadership to ensure the financial health of the association,” Pannu said.
  • The Fourth Estate Award, to honor courageous journalism that enhances public understanding of the legal system and the law, was awarded to Steven Hale of the Nashville Scene for coverage of the executions of Billy Ray Irick, David Earl Miller and Edmund Zagorski, and capital punishment more generally in Tennessee during 2018.

    In presenting the award, Communications Law Section Chair Paul McAdoo said Hale “promoted a deeper understanding of the ultimate power to punish that the state wields. The issue is a divisive one and his reporting provided a window of it to this aspect of Tennessee’s criminal justice system.  His reporting included more than just a personal account of attending executions, but dove deeper, looking into issues with methods for capital punishment and statistics that show the racial disparity nationally with the use of the death penalty.


The convention also included meetings of the House of Delegates, Board of Governors, Sections, Committees, Local Bar Leaders Caucus, a luncheon for “seasoned members of the bar,” Law School Alumni Breakfasts, the “Better Right Now” health and wellness CLE, and many more hours of CLE.

The Bench/Bar program and luncheon this year was lead by guest speaker Ken Starr and attended by members of the TBA and the Tennessee Judicial Conference.
Members of the TBA Young Lawyers Division held their annual meeting, with Knoxville lawyer Troy Weston taking office as president and Terica Smith of Jackson as president-elect. Jason Hicks of Cookeville is vice president and Christian Barker of Nashville is the immediate past president.

Also during convention, the TBA Leadership Law class held its graduation, and named Memphis lawyer Tannera Gibson as the recipient of this year’s Larry Dean Wilks Leadership Award. Fellow class members chose to honor Gibson with the award, which recognizes a class member with exceptional leadership qualities.

The Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) held graduation ceremonies, and participated in a service project.

Compiled by Stacey Shrader Joslin from information provided by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Licensure and disciplinary notices are included in this publication as a member service. The official record of an attorney’s status is maintained by the board. Current information about a particular attorney may be found on the board’s website at www.tbpr.org/for-the-public/online-attorney-directory.