Press Releases

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 19, 2008

Award presented to Russ Overby at capitol ceremony

NASHVILLE, Jan. 19, 2008 — Nashville lawyer Russell Overby has been honored as the state's top public service attorney by the Tennessee Bar Association for three decades of work on behalf the indigent.

As a college student, Overby tutored kids from a downtown Chicago housing project. He says that experience led him to pursue a career in the law. Following graduation from the Vanderbilt Law School in 1974, he went to work for the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. In 1996, he joined the staff of the Tennessee Justice Center for a three-month sabbatical that turned into a nine-year commitment. He returned to Legal Aid in 2005 because he missed the client contact associated with individual cases. He now serves as the organization's managing attorney. Overby says one of his most rewarding accomplishments was taking on the Social Security Administration's process for determining benefits eligibility for disabled persons. Because of his work, the court found that the agency had violated federal law and ordered reevaluations for 60,000 people.

Overby was presented with the "Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award" at the Tennessee Bar Association's annual public service luncheon. The luncheon was held in the state capitol rotunda and featured award winners in several categories as well as a keynote address by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. The award was particularly meaningful for Overby because of his close association with Wiltshire, who retired from the Legal Aid Society last year after 37 years of service. The award was renamed for Wiltshire last summer and Overby is the first recipient of the renamed honor.

The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award is given annually to an attorney who has committed to a career in public service, and over the course of that career, has gone above and beyond the call of duty in representing indigent clients. Recipients are nominated by the Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and approved by the Board of Governors.

Available photos

• Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Russ Overby
• Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Ross Booher
Law Student Volunteer of the Year Peggy Smith