Sherrard & Roe member will lead association in 2015-2016
NASHVILLE, June 7, 2013 — Nashville lawyer William L. “Bill” Harbison has been elected vice president of the Tennessee Bar Association and will be installed at the group’s annual convention in Nashville Friday. The luncheon ceremony will begin at noon and take place in the Capitol Ballroom at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, 623 Union St., Nashville, TN 37219. After serving a year as vice president, Harbison will ascend to president-elect in 2014-2015 and then lead the association as president in 2015-2016.
Harbison, the son of the late Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William J. Harbison, is a member with Sherrard & Roe PLC and works primarily in the areas of corporate law, commercial litigation, general civil litigation, probate and trust law, and estate planning. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1980 and received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977. He joined the firm in 1983.
Harbison has been an active member of the Tennessee Bar Association, serving as its general counsel for several years, as secretary for the Board of Governors and as a contributor to the Tennessee Bar Journal. He received the publication’s Justice Joseph W. Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing early in his career for an article on exercising the power of appointment. In 2012, Harbison won the TBA’s Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Award for his work protecting the civil rights of Juana Villegas, a jailed immigrant who was shackled to a bed while in labor. The case brought international attention to the treatment of immigrants and pregnant women in police custody. Harbison and his team of volunteer lawyers ultimately won $200,000 in compensatory damages and the right for their client to apply for a U-Visa -- a work visa given to immigrants who have been victims of a crime. In this case, Villegas was found to have been the victim of civil rights violations.
Harbison also has served the state’s legal community by accepting appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners, , Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Panel and Board of Professional Responsibility Advisory Committee.
He also has been active in the local legal community, serving as president of the Nashville Bar Association (1999) and the Nashville Bar Foundation (2002-2006). He is fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation, member and past president of the Nashville Estate Planning Council and a past member of the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Commission. On the national level, Harbison is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Harbison says he hopes to use his time as TBA president to build on the access to justice initiatives that were started by former president George T. “Buck” Lewis. These included efforts to educate leaders about the need for pro bono service, expand the number and type of opportunities available for volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono service, and inform the public about available assistance. The initiative also promoted collaborations with local and county bar organizations and with the Tennessee Supreme Court to improve access to justice for the poor. Harbison also says he will be using the next two years to develop additional priorities.
Taking office along with Harbison will be President Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Sevierville and President-Elect Jonathan O. Steen of Jackson. Wyrick is a member in the firm of Ogle, Gass & Richardson PC. She practices in the areas of wrongful death, personal injury, family law, business formation and litigation, wills and estates, and general civil litigation. Steen is a partner in the firm of Redding, Steen & Staton, where he practices general civil litigation, with a focus on medical malpractice, legal malpractice and products liability defense; commercial and business disputes; and appellate advocacy.
The 2013 Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention will be held in conjunction with five other legal organizations — the Tennessee Judicial Conference, Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers (TABL), Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ), Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women (TLAW) and Tennessee Stonewall Bar Association. This joint meeting allows the groups to address common issues and concerns and offers opportunities for additional education, long-range planning, and recognition of attorneys who have performed outstanding legal work and community service.