Press Releases

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 13, 2007

Awards presented on Saturday, January 13, at Capitol Ceremony

NASHVILLE, Jan. 13, 2007 — Four attorneys who contributed thousands of hours of their time to public service were recently honored by the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) at its annual public service luncheon. Held as part of the association’s leadership conference, the luncheon took place in the state capitol rotunda and featured award winners in several categories as well as a keynote address by Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.

This year’s winners are: Pro Bono Attorney of the Year David Cañas of Nashville, Public Service Attorney of the Year Jerry J. Williams of Maryville, and Law Student Volunteers of the Year Patti Garner of Sevierville and Chris Sanders of Knoxville.

Cañas, an attorney with the Nashville law firm of Harwell Howard Hyne Gabbert & Manner PC, received the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award. The award, which is named for former TBA President Harris A. Gilbert, recognizes an attorney in private practice who demonstrates dedication to legal services for the poor and performs significant pro bono work. Cañas was honored for his efforts on behalf of a young woman with cerebral palsy who needed a specific speech communication device to live independently. He worked for several months convincing TennCare to provide the device.

Williams received the “Public Service Attorney of the Year Award,” which recognizes 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. Williams, who recently retired from Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), has dedicated her career to social justice causes, first as a concerned citizen and then as a lawyer. Deciding late in life to earn a law degree, she enrolled in the UT College of Law at age 51. As an attorney, she focused her efforts on housing law, representing indigent tenants and authoring the definitive guide to landlord tenant law in Tennessee.

The association’s third award, the Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award, was given to Nashville School of Law student Patti Garner and University of Tennessee College of Law student Chris Sanders. The law student award recognizes the efforts of Tennessee law school students who volunteer with organizations dedicated to legal representation of the indigent. Garner was recognized for her work as a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Safe Space, and as co-founder of the Nashville School of Law Legal Society. Sanders was recognized for his volunteer work with the UT Pro Bono Program, the Family Justice Project and Hurricane Katrina evacuees. He also was honored for developing a pro bono pledge, which allows UT law students to pledge a certain amount of pro bono service as their graduating class gift.

Finally, the TBA presented Memphis attorney Craig Barnes with a special recognition for the full-time volunteer work he contributed to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Now an attorney with Memphis Area Legal Services Inc. (MALS), Barnes donated the equivalent of six months of pro bono time to the agency while waiting for his law license to transfer from Washington State.

Additional information and photographs for each of these attorneys is available on request.

• Download photo of David Cañas

• Download photo of Jerry Williams

• Download photo of Chris Sanders

• Download photo of Patti Garner

• Download photo of Craig Barnes