Posted by: Journal News on May 1, 2021

Journal Issue Date: May-June 2021

Journal Name: Vol. 57 No. 3

Barry Is New VP, Will Lead TBA in 2023-24


Germantown attorney James “Jim” Barry will serve as president of the Tennessee Bar Association in 2023-2024, according to election-qualifying results. No other candidate filed for the vice president position by the Feb. 15 deadline. After taking office as vice president this summer, the retired International Paper attorney will become president-elect in 2022-2023 and then take over the organization’s leadership in June 2023.

There was one contested election held this spring, which was for the District 6 seat in the TBA House of Delegates. Knoxville lawyer J. Spencer Fair was re-elected to the seat. He faced a challenge for the position from attorney Glenn Walter with Lewis Thomason in Knoxville. Fair is an attorney with London Amburn where he focuses in the areas of health care litigation and general health law matters. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law where he teaches civil pre-trial litigation.

Leslie to be YLD President

The TBA Young Lawyers Division recently announced its leadership for the 2021-2022 bar year. All will take office in June at the TBA Convention. Officers will be Billy Leslie, president; Brittany Faith, president-elect; Quinton Thompson, vice president; John Carrerras, secretary; and Justin Faith, treasurer.

Other elected positions include the YLD’s three grand division governors — West Tennessee Governor Kortney Simmons, East Tennessee Governor Alex McVeagh and Middle Tennessee Governor Sean Aiello — and representatives to the TBA House of Delegates — East Tennessee YLD Delegate Justin Faith, Middle Tennessee YLD Delegate Mike Tackeff and West Tennessee YLD Delegate Will Gibbons.

GPS of Chattanooga Wins 1st State Mock Trial Title

Girls Preparatory School of Chattanooga won the 2021 Tennessee State High School Mock Trial Competition in March, prevailing over Montgomery Bell Academy of Nashville in the state’s first virtual mock trial competition. It was also the first state competition win for the school. The team will represent Tennessee in the virtual National Mock Trial Competition in May.

The championship round was presided over by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Roger A. Page and scored by a team of TBA and TBA Young Lawyers Division leaders. At a virtual awards ceremony earlier in the day, Coffee County Central High School won the Team Sportsmanship Award, which is chosen by all participating teams.

Workers’ Comp Court Extends Phone Hearings

The Tennessee Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims announced in April that it will continue to conduct hearing settlements by phone through June. The court took the action due to continued issues with in-person meetings brought on from the COVID-19 pandemic.

TBA Honored Among ‘Best Places to Work’

The Tennessee Bar Association has been named one of Nashville’s 2021 “Best Places to Work” by the Nashville Business Journal. Now in its 18th year, the rankings recognize Nashville companies for their teamwork, mutual respect among employees and leadership. The list is assembled after a nomination process and an employee survey that measures team effectiveness, trust in senior leaders, manager effectiveness and more. Organizations are then ranked and winners are chosen in each size category by their composite score.

The TBA was honored in the “Small (10-24 employees)” category. The bar association will be featured in a special print publication and on the NBJ’s website and will be honored during a special virtual awards ceremony on May 18.

Tennessee Bar Foundation Provides Nearly $1M for 10 Pilot Projects

The Tennessee Bar Foundation has awarded $963,200 as part of a second round of Implementation Grants from the Tennessee Legal Initiatives Fund. The awards follow $1.1 million given in 2019 to a number of pilot projects designed to broaden the capacity of organizations to break the cycle of poverty and barriers to justice by using civil legal aid and education to help vulnerable populations. The projects have since been evaluated with 10 of them receiving funding for an additional year.

The funds come from a consumer relief settlement negotiated by the Department of Justice. Under the settlement, monies were donated nationwide to organizations that administer each state’s Interest On Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program.

Stevenson to Lead National Association of Bar Execs

Tennessee Bar Association Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson has been chosen to serve as vice president of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) for 2021-2022. Stevenson, who was previously a director at-large for the organization, will become president elect in 2022-2023 before ascending to NABE president in 2023-2024. NABE is the only organization of its kind providing professional development and networking opportunities to bar associations across the country. Its mission is to enhance the skills and enrich the careers of bar association professionals.

Law School Applications, LSAT Scores on the Rise

Law school applications are up 20% compared to this point last year and up 16.8% compared to two years ago, according to Interest among Black and Latino applicants is also up with an increase of 24.2% and 20.1% respectively.

The data also show that LSAT scores are up. Observers suggest this may be up because of the new LSAT Flex test, which is taken from home and is shorter than the traditional test, or the free online LSAT prep being offered by the Law School Admission Council through the Khan Academy.

YLD Launches New Legal Guide for Young Adults

The TBA Young Lawyers Division has launched a new legal guide for young adults, “Just Adulting TN.” The  new website offers easy to understand content about what Tennessee laws say on a wide range of issues including drinking, texting and driving, police encounters, jury duty, voting, selective service, taxes, student loans and social media responsibility.

Turning 18 and being legally considered as an adult can be an exciting time in a young person’s life. But it is important to understand the rights, responsibilities and obligations that come with that new status. Check out these new resources at

Lawyers Celebrated for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month in March the TBA saluted some of the women who have shaped the practice of law in the state.

‘Firsts’ on the Court: Martha Craig Daughtrey was the Tennessee Supreme Court’s first female justice; Janice M. Holder, the Supreme Court’s first female chief justice; Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby, the state’s first woman to serve on the Tennessee Court of Appeals; Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, the first woman to serve on a state trial court; Chancellor Sharon Bell, the first woman to serve on a state chancery court;  and Judge Kate M. Drake, the first county judge in the state. Thanks to these historic trailblazers, the Tennessee Judiciary is a changed institution.

Today, women compose the majority of the Tennessee Supreme Court. At the trial court level, 25% of judges are women while 18 of the state’s 31 judicial districts have at least one woman judge.

There have been six women who serve/ have served on the Tennessee Supreme Court: former justices Daughtrey, Holder and Penny White, and current justices Cornelia (Connie) Clark, Sharon G. Lee and Holly Kirby.

Women Leading Across the State: Women have played an important role in leading the TBA during the past three decades and more women continue to join the leadership ranks. There are currently women in six of the top leadership posts in the association: President Michelle Greenway Sellers of Jackson, President-elect Sherie Edwards of Brentwood, Vice President Tasha Blakney of Knoxville, Immediate Past President Sarah Sheppeard of Knoxville, Treasurer Mary Dohner Smith of Nashville and House of Delegates Speaker Meredith Humbert of Kingsport.

In addition, the TBA Young Lawyers Division is led by Jackson attorney Terica Smith, and a number of sections and committees have female chairs. All of them follow in the footsteps of strong women lawyers, starting with the late Pamela Reeves, who was the TBA’s first female president when she was sworn into office in 1998.

Across the state, women hold key leadership roles in bar organizations. Nashville lawyer Joycelyn Stevenson is executive director of the Tennessee Bar Association; Barri Bernstein is executive director of the Tennessee Bar Foundation; Lynda Minks Hood heads the Chattanooga Bar Association; Marsha Watson heads the Knoxville Bar Association; Monica Mackie is executive director of the Nashville Bar Association; and Maury Tower is the Memphis Bar Association’s interim executive director.