Press Releases

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jun 26, 2009

Elliott to take office in June 2010, focus on civics education

NASHVILLE, June 26, 2009 — Chattanooga attorney Sam Elliott took office as president-elect of the Tennessee Bar Association last Friday at the association’s annual convention in Memphis. The move puts him in line to assume the presidency in June 2010. Elliott is a member in the Chattanooga firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Lockaby, Cavett & Elliott, where he practices in the field of civil litigation. His experience includes handling cases involving products liability, personal injury, employment discrimination and eminent domain. In addition, he advises clients on issues of employment law, environmental law, commercial disputes and professional liability. He also represents the municipal governments of Soddy Daisy, Collegedale and Lakesite.

After earning a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1981, Elliott began his career clerking for then U.S. Magistrate Roger Dickson. He then joined the firm of Gearhiser Peters, where he has served ever since. Among his many legal accomplishments, Elliott served as president of the Chattanooga Bar Association in 2001 after serving on its board of governors for five years. For the Tennessee Bar Association, he has served in various capacities since 2004, including district representative, member of the board of governors and chair of the association’s Operations Committee. He also is a member of the Justices Brock and Cooper American Inns of Court in Chattanooga, the Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association, Chattanooga Trial Lawyers Association, Tennessee Association for Justice, Federal Bar Association and American Bar Association, and a fellow of the Tennessee and Chattanooga bar foundations.

In the community, Elliott is involved with the Rotary Club of Chattanooga and Friends of University of Tennessee Library Executive Committee. He is former board member of the National Association for the Craniofacially Handicapped (FACES) and a trustee at his church, Signal Mountain Presbyterian. He also is a frequent volunteer for Legal Aid of East Tennessee, which provides free legal services to those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Elliott also is known for his love of history and scholarly work on Tennessee’s role in the Civil War. This past February he was named chair of the Tennessee Historical Commission. With specific regard to the Civil War, he has authored two books, Soldier of Tennessee: General Alexander P. Stewart and the Civil War in the West (1999) and Doctor Quintard: Chaplain C. S. A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee (2003). He also is the author of the forthcoming book Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator. Elliott served two years as president of the Friends of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and serves on the board of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association. He also is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians and Historians of the Western Theater.

TBA names other officers
Taking office along with Elliott were President Gail Vaughn Ashworth of Nashville and Vice President Danny Van Horn of Memphis. Ashworth is a founding partner of the Nashville firm of Gideon & Wiseman PLLC, where she practices civil litigation law. Van Horn is with the Memphis law firm of Butler, Snow, O’Mara & Cannada, where he handles commercial litigation.

Chattanooga area lawyers honored
A number of Chattanooga lawyers were honored for their service to the legal profession and the community at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual meeting in Memphis last week.

Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Herschel Franks was awarded the Justice Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. It is named for former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Frank F. Drowota III. Judge Franks was appointed to the court in 1978 and has been reelected five times.

Lynda Hood, executive director of the Chattanooga Bar Association, and Sheri Fox, with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, were recognized for their work on the 4/4 Pro Bono Public Service Day, which made free legal advice available to Tennesseans across the state on April 4. The clinics offered in Chattanooga served 120 area residents.

Chattanooga lawyer David McDowell, with the firm of Gearhiser, Peters, Lockaby, Cavett & Elliott PLLC was awarded the TBA Young Lawyer Division’s Public Service Project of the Year Award for hosting a charity golf tournament and silent auction to raise funds for the Orange Grove Center. Through McDowell’s hard work, the event brought in over $12,000, which will be used by the center to help individuals transition into community work settings.

Finally this past weekend, a number of Chattanooga lawyers graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program, which equips Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and communities. This year's class was comprised of 35 attorneys from across the state. On Saturday, class members helped more than 50 clients at a free legal clinic in Memphis operated by Memphis Area Legal Services. Among the graduates were:

  • Marlene Bidelman-Dye, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz
  • Jay Elliott, Miller & Martin PLLC
  • Andy Pippenger, Leitner Williams Dooley & Napolitan

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.

For photographs or additional biographical information on any of the officers or award winners, please contact the TBA at (615) 383-7421