Will focus on access to justice, civics education, diversity, green initiatives
NASHVILLE, June 29, 2009 — Nashville lawyer Gail Vaughn Ashworth recently took office as the Tennessee Bar Association’s 127th president, pledging to continue helping those in need obtain access to justice and working to improve diversity in the profession. Ashworth, a Vanderbilt University Law School graduate and founding partner of Gideon & Wiseman PLLC in Nashville, received the oath of office from Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Janice Holder on June 19 during the TBA’s annual convention in Memphis. In her keynote address, Ashworth outlined plans for encouraging civics education, launching a green initiative for the legal community and helping members use technology more effectively in the practice of law.
Ashworth has served the state bar association in a variety of roles over the years. From 1999 to 2007, she was general counsel, advising the TBA on administrative policy. From 2004 to 2007, she served on the steering committee of the TBA’s award-winning Leadership Law Program, co-chairing the committee during the program’s inaugural year in 2004. Ashworth also has been an active member in the association’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD), first as a new attorney and later as a member of the TBA YLD Fellows. In addition, Ashworth has been an active member of the Nashville Bar Association (NBA) and the American Bar Association (ABA). On the local level, she served as president of the Nashville Bar in 1997, and from 2000-2006 served as the elected NBA delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. She also is a former chair of the association’s CLE and Alternative Dispute Resolution committees, and a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation and the NBA YLD. For the ABA, she has served on and co-chaired the Leadership Academy Steering Committee of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the ABA YLD.
Her other contributions to the legal community include: chairing the Tennessee Justice Center Board of Directors, co-chairing the Tennessee Supreme Court Jury Reform Commission, and serving in the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women and the Nashville chapter of the Lawyers Association for Women.
In the local community, Ashworth has served as a member of Centennial Medical Center’s Medical Ethics Committee and on the board of directors of Sister Cities Nashville, Inc. She also is a former member and chair of the State of Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
Taking office along with Ashworth were President-elect Sam Elliott of Chattanooga and Vice President Daniel Van Horn of Memphis. Elliott is a member of the Chattanooga firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Lockaby, Cavett & Elliott PLLC where he focuses on general civil litigation. He earned his law degree in 1981 from the University of Tennessee College of Law and will become TBA president in June 2010. Van Horn is with the Memphis law firm of Butler, Snow, O’ÄôMara & Cannada, where he handles commercial litigation. He earned his law degree in 1997 from Vanderbilt University Law School. When he assumes the presidency of TBA in 2011, he will be the youngest president in the history of the organization.
Also during the convention, Nashville lawyer David Changas, with the law firm of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop PC, took over as president of the TBA Young Lawyers Division, which serves more than 2,000 lawyers in the state who are in their first several years of practice. Changas practices in the field of civil litigation. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2000.
The 2009 Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention was held in conjunction with four other major Tennessee legal organizations -- the Tennessee Judicial Conference (TJC), the Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ), Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women (TLAW) and the Tennessee Alliance for Black Lawyers (TABL). This joint meeting structure allows the groups to address common issues and concerns. It also offers opportunities for additional education, long-range planning, and recognition of attorneys who have performed outstanding legal work and community service.