Sherrard & Roe member sworn into office at annual meeting in Memphis
NASHVILLE, June 29, 2015 — Nashville lawyer William L. “Bill” Harbison took office as president of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) at the group’s annual convention June 19 in Memphis.
Harbison was elected vice president in 2013 and served in that role during the 2013-2014 bar year. He served as president-elect during the 2014-2015 bar year.
Harbison, the son of the late Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William J. Harbison, is a member with Sherrard & Roe PLC and works in the areas of corporate law, commercial litigation, general civil litigation, probate and trust law, and estate planning. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1980 and received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977. He joined Sherrard & Roe in 1983 and has worked there continuously since that time.
Harbison has been an active member of the Tennessee Bar Association, serving as its general counsel for several years, as secretary for the Board of Governors and as a contributor to the Tennessee Bar Journal. He received the publication’s Justice Joseph W. Henry Award for Outstanding Legal Writing early in his career for an article on exercising a power of appointment.
In 2012, along with law partners Phil Cramer and John Farringer, Harbison received the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Award for his work protecting the civil rights of Juana Villegas, a jailed immigrant who was shackled to a bed while in labor. The case brought international attention to the treatment of immigrants and pregnant women in police custody. The team of volunteer lawyers, including Harbison, ultimately won a jury verdict of $200,000 in compensatory damages and the right for the client to apply for a U-Visa – a work visa given to immigrants who have been victims of a crime. In this case, Villegas was found to have been the victim of civil rights violations.
Harbison also has served the state’s legal community by accepting appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners, Tennessee Bar Foundation Board of Directors, Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Panel and Board of Professional Responsibility Advisory Committee.
He also has been active in the local legal community, serving as president of the Nashville Bar Association (1999) and the Nashville Bar Foundation (2002-2006). He is fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation, member and past president of the Nashville Estate Planning Council and a past member of the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Commission. On the national level, Harbison is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Harbison says he hopes to use his time as TBA president to build on access to justice initiatives put in motion by past presidents. These included efforts to educate leaders about the need for pro bono service, expand the number and type of opportunities available for volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono service, and inform the public about available assistance. He also will begin a long-term effort to assess the future of the legal profession and explore ways that technology and innovation can enhance the delivery of legal services to the public. Watch his remarks from the TBA Convention.
Taking office along with Harbison was President-Elect Jason Long of Knoxville and Vice President Lucian Pera of Memphis. Long is a partner with Lowe, Yeager & Brown and works primarily in the areas of professional malpractice defense and licensure issues, commercial litigation, general civil litigation, and adoption law. Pera is a partner with Adams and Reese LLP where he focuses on commercial litigation, legal ethics work and media law.
The 2015 Tennessee Bar Association Annual Convention was held in conjunction with several other legal organizations, including the Tennessee Judicial Conference, the Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ) and the Tennessee Lawyers’ Association for Women (TLAW). This joint meeting allows legal groups in the state to address common issues and concerns and offers opportunities for additional education, long-range planning, and recognition of attorneys who have performed outstanding legal work and community service.