TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Barry Kolar on Sep 1, 2020

NASHVILLE, September 1, 2020 — A new task force of attorneys and judges from across the state has been established to take on diversity challenges within the legal profession, looking specifically at recruitment, retention, investment and advancement.

Tennessee Bar Association Chief Diversity Officer Mary Beard of HCA Healthcare in Nashville will lead the effort.

“Beginning this fall, we will analyze current and future diversity initiatives within the bar,” Beard says, “and we will also look for opportunities to collaborate across the state to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.” Recommendations from the task force will go to the TBA’s Board of Governors.

Members already committed to serve on the task force include:

  • Ariel Anthony of Husch Blackwell, Chattanooga
  • Mary Beard of HCA Healthcare, Nashville
  • Julie Bhattacharya Peak of Liberty Mutual Insurance, Brentwood
  • LaTonnsya Burney, the Assistant Dean of Student Conduct at Tennessee State University, Nashville
  • Bill Coley of Hodges, Doughty & Carson and chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, Knoxville
  • Anica Conner Jones, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs attorney and Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers designee, Nashville
  • Loretta Cravens of Cravens Legal and president of Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women, Knoxville
  • Mohamed Akram Faizer of the LMU Duncan School of Law, Knoxville
  • Elizabeth Hernandez, managing attorney of the Immigration Legal Clinic, the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, Nashville
  • Lauren Holloway of McAngus Goudelock & Courie, Memphis
  • Chris Javillonar, the general counsel at Permobil and president of the Tennessee Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Lebanon
  • Michelle Long, Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy Director, Administrative Office of the Courts, Nashville
  • Andre Mathis of Butler Snow LLP, Memphis
  • Harrison McIver, Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of Memphis Area Legal Services, Memphis
  • Judge Camille McMullen of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, Memphis
  • Judge Cynthia Richardson Wyrick, U. S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District, Greeneville
  • Joshua Wallis of The Landers Firm, Memphis
  • John Winemiller of Merchant & Gould, Knoxville
  • Deborah Yeomans-Barton of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Johnson City

TBA President Michelle Greenway Sellers announced the task force as part of several initiatives contained in TBA’s three-year strategic plan. In addition to the work of the task force, TBA has increased its commitment to recognition of diverse voices within the association through its new “Member in the News” series, diversity training for the Board of Governors in September and future diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias training for broader TBA leadership. 

The TBA also recently launched a diversity resources index on its website, highlighting educational opportunities, resources on racial justice, resources for businesses and volunteer opportunities.

The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with 12,000 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.