TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Journal News on Sep 25, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Oct 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 10

Baker Donelson lawyer George T. “Buck” Lewis was recognized with a Presidential Citation by the American Bar Association, which was presented by ABA President Bob Carlson at the 2019 ABA Pro Bono Publico luncheon in San Francisco as part of the ABA’s Annual Meeting in August. Lewis just completed three years of service as chair of the ABA Pro Bono and Public Service Committee and was honored for his work launching the country’s first interactive pro bono website now known as ABAFreeLegalAnswers. The free online legal service has been implemented in 41 states and in Great Britain and Australia. Lewis is a past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and Memphis Bar Foundation, as well as past chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission.

The Knoxville law firm of Kennerly, Montgomery & Finley recently announced the addition of Douglas J. Toppenberg as Of Counsel. Toppenberg will handle family law matters and litigation, including divorce, child custody, child support and adoptions. Toppenberg is a past chair of the Knoxville Bar Association Family Law Section and a substitute Special Master in the Fourth Circuit Court. He also worked with the Tennessee Supreme Court updating the Rules of Juvenile Procedure and redrafting parenting plan forms.

Clarksville Municipal Court Judge Charles W. Smith received the 2019 Sharon G. Lee Award of Excellence at a recent meeting of the Tennessee Municipal Court Judges Conference. The award, named in honor of Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and former Madisonville Municipal Court Judge Sharon Lee, is given each year to a municipal judge who has made a significant contribution to the conference. Smith was recognized for his work establishing the Tennessee Municipal Judges Association, which was the forerunner of the conference. In addition to serving as a local judge, Smith has maintained a private legal practice in Clarksville for the past 25 years.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings recently announced that two of its partners have been named to Benchmark Litigation’s Top 250 Women in Litigation for 2019. Leigh Anne Hodge is a member of Bradley’s Healthcare Practice Group and assistant leader of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. She is based in the firm’s Birmingham office. Lela M. Hollabaugh is the managing partner of the Nashville office, and has experience representing natural gas pipeline companies, infrastructure clients, pharmaceutical and medical device makers, and other manufacturers.

Mark A. Fulks has been named university counsel for East Tennessee State University. A native of Elizabethton, Fulks spent the past seven years as an attorney with Baker Donelson in Johnson City. Prior to that, he was senior counsel in the Criminal Justice Division of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Fulks earned his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law and a master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public administration from Tennessee State University. He is replacing longtime attorney Edward J. Kelly, who is retiring.
   The firm also announced that attorney Janus Pan has been appointed to the American Health Lawyers Association’s leadership development program. Pan’s practice focuses on assisting hospitals and healthcare providers with transactional and regulatory matters. She also advises healthcare clients on federal and state laws, regulations and administrative rule changes. Prior to joining Bradley, Pan clerked for the Office of the California Attorney General, handling matters related to hospital mergers and acquisitions.

Knoxville lawyer Jonathan Cooper will serve as president of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for the 2019-2020 year. He was installed at the association’s 46th Annual Meeting in Knoxville on Aug. 10. During his year in office, Cooper says he will focus on Gov. Bill Lee’s criminal justice reform initiatives and on legislation designed to strengthen the rights of all Tennessee residents. Cooper is a partner in the criminal defense firm of Knox Defense and has been in private practice for more than 25 years.

Cleveland law firm Logan-Thompson recently announced that Tim Hewitt has joined the firm as a member. Hewitt will focus on litigation with an emphasis on criminal defense. A 2013 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Hewitt has been serving as assistant public defender with the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office for the past six years.

Chattanooga lawyer Eric J. Oliver has joined Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway as a partner. He will focus on personal injury, medical malpractice, business, divorce and workers’ compensation litigation as well as business and intellectual property law. He previously spent 18 years at Lewis & Oliver.

The Miles Mason Family Law Group in Germantown recently announced that Miles Mason Sr. has authored the second edition of The Forensic Accounting Deskbook, which helps family law attorneys work with forensic accountants. The book is available from the American Bar Association Family Law Section. The firm also announced that Gil Buie has been named an associate attorney. Buie joined the firm as a law clerk in 2016.

Knoxville lawyer Gordan Ball  has been named a 2019 “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by Public Justice, a nationwide nonprofit legal advocacy organization. Ball was recognized for his work on a 20 year-long class action lawsuit that resulted in a $250 million nonreversionary settlement that also highlighted the use of dark money in judicial elections. The case, Hale v. State Farm, centered on allegations that the insurance company used lower quality automotive parts from nonbrand manufacturers to repair 4.7 million vehicles in the 1980s and 1990s. Some 1.5 million class members will receive a payout from the settlement.

Leslie Barrett Kinkead, the longtime court improvement program coordinator for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), received the 2019 Meritorious Award from the Tennessee Juvenile Court Services Association. Kinkead was recognized for decades of service and significant contributions to the field of juvenile justice. As coordinator of the program, Kinkead provides training for judges and child welfare professionals, technical assistance to courts, and guidance to the group responsible for revising statutes and juvenile court procedural rules. Prior to joining the AOC, Kinkead was in private practice for five years and was an assistant district attorney for the Davidson County Juvenile Court.

A number of Tennessee judges recently received awards at the joint Tennessee Council of Juvenile Judges/Tennessee Juvenile Court Services Association Conference. TBA members among the group were Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert D. Philyaw, who received the McCain-Abernathy Award for outstanding service to the  juvenile justice system. Philyaw was appointed to the juvenile court in 2013. He previously served as municipal judge for the city of Graysville and was in private practice.
   Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge Sharon E. Guffee received the association’s Leadership Award for investing in others and encouraging growth in the field. Guffee was as an assistant district attorney in the 21st Judicial District for six years before entering private practice. She became a full-time magistrate in 2007 and was appointed to the juvenile court bench in 2013.
   Finally, former Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge and current Magistrate Jane C. Franks received the “You Inspire Us All Award,” which honors an individual who inspires others to believe in children, the work of juvenile courts and the ability to make a difference. Judge Franks became the first female judge in Williamson County when she was appointed to the general sessions court in 1977. She became a juvenile court judge in 1980 and served there for 20 years. She now works as a part-time magistrate.

Allison Starnes-Anglea, director of career services at the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law, recently hosted a successful orientation for second-year law students. The inaugural program, developed by Starnes-Anglea, covered resume drafting and networking skills. Attending law students also received a complimentary professional headshot to aid in their job searches.

Nashville lawyer Charles Michels has been named a partner of Taylor Pigue Marchetti & Blair. Michels joined the firm in 2012 after graduating from Vanderbilt University Law School. He handles municipal, estate/probate, insurance, employment, government/regulatory, real property and general civil law cases.

Seth Ogden, Ph.D., senior associate at Patterson Intellectual Property Law, was recently named to the board of directors for Operation Stand Down Tennessee. The nonprofit organization engages, equips and empowers veterans and their families as they transition from military service to civilian life. The group also offers assistance with employment, Veterans’ Affairs Department benefits, networking and housing.

Stites & Harbison has welcomed Elizabeth Anne Bowden to its Nashville office. Bowden will practice in the Creditors’ Rights & Bankruptcy Service Group and focus on commercial transactions, litigation, banking, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. Prior to joining the firm, Bowden worked for a firm in Knoxville.

Butler Snow attorney Erin Palmer Polly has been named a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC). Polly is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group and focuses on commercial litigation, civil rights, professional liability and general litigation. Membership in the FDCC is limited, selective and by nomination only.

Michael Holder has joined the Nashville office of Lewis Thomason as an associate. A recent graduate of Belmont University College of Law, Holder interned at the U.S, Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office for Davidson County prior to joining the firm. This Success! item was published originally in the September issue with the incorrect picture. The Journal regrets the error.

Maresa Whaley has joined the Tennessee Bar Association as a sections, committee & CLE coordinator. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University where she holds a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and a Certification in Nonprofit Management. Prior to joining TBA she worked in higher education and various nonprofit agencies as a meeting planner, responsible for logistics and managing planning aspects of programs and meetings.  She is an active volunteer within the community and enjoys spending time with her family. 


Memphis lawyer and former state legislator and judge THOMAS BOUSE AVERY died Sept. 10 at the age of 89. A graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, Avery joined with his friend William H. Fisher III to form the law firm of Robinson, Fisher and Avery. Avery became active in local and state politics and served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971. In 1973, he was chief draftsman for the Shelby County Restructure Act, which provided the foundation for the current county commission. He later served three terms on the Shelby County Election Commission and in 1981 was appointed judge of the Circuit Court Division VIII. At the time of his death he was practicing with the firm of Fisher Avery Fisher. Memorial donations may be made to the organization of the donor’s choice.

Former TBA president and Humboldt attorney GEORGE GRIFFIN BOYTE died Aug. 26. He was 94. A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, Boyte served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, then returned to Humboldt, where he practiced law for more than 60 years. He also served as city judge and city attorney in Humboldt, as well as in the Tennessee legislature and the Tennessee Constitutional Convention. Boyte was president of the Gibson County Bar Association, and in 1978, president of the Tennessee Bar Association. Memorials may be sent to the Rotary Foundation, The Church at Sugar Creek, Gideons International, Young Life, or the donor’s choice.

Nashville lawyer BETHANY GAYLE CONOVER died July 31 at the age of 48. Originally from Tullahoma, Conover began her career as a social worker and probation/parole officer. She later attended the Nashville School of Law, graduating in 2007. She joined her family’s firm and practiced primarily in criminal and domestic law for two years before becoming an attorney advisor at the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Nashville. In 2011, she moved to the agency’s new Franklin office to serve as a mentor and trainer. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church, 3259 McGavock Pk., Nashville 37214, or the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee, 1321 Murfreesboro Pk., Ste 400, Nashville 37217 or at las.org/ways-to-give/donate-now.

Former Knox County Chancellor WILLIAM “BILL” PIERCE NEWKIRK, age 87, died May 14. Originally from Chicago, Newkirk began his legal studies at the University of Cincinnati but transferred to the University of Tennessee College of Law and graduated in 1957. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. Newkirk practiced law in Knoxville before being appointed to the Knox County Chancery Court in 1969. He later served as a specially appointed judge for the Tennessee Court of Appeals and as an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Social Security Administration. Memorial donations may be made to Remote Area Medical, 2200 Stock Creek Blvd, Rockford 37853. Reach the organization may be at 865-579-1530 or at www.ramusa.org.

Hartsville attorney BETTY LOU TAYLOR, died Aug. 28 at the age of 65. A 1985 graduate of the YMCA Law School (now Nashville School of Law) in Nashville, Taylor practiced in Hartsville with Donoho, Taylor & Taylor. Donations may be made to Haley’s Hearts Foundation or the Trousdale County Animal Shelter.

Chattanooga lawyer KYLE RICHARD WEEMS died June 27. He was 82. Following graduation from the University of Tennessee College of Law, Weems joined the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps. After leaving the service, he began his legal career with the law firm of Roberts, Weill & Ellis, which ultimately became Weill & Weems. He later branched out on his own with smaller firms and practiced with several different partners and associates over the years. Weems was a well-known bankruptcy attorney with a focus on Chapter 11 business reorganizations. He also served as a Chapter 7 trustee for more than 25 years. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Centenary United Methodist Church, 419 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga 37402, or to the Fairview Cumberland Presbyterian Church Building Fund, c/o Bennie Malone, 4040 Snapps Ferry Rd., Afton 37616.