Posted by: News Sources on Feb 1, 2020

Journal Issue Date: Feb. 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 2


Two Nashville lawyers recently joined Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison as members. Nashville At-large Councilman Bob Mendes dissolved his law firm, Waypoint Law, in December and joined the firm, where he will focus on commercial litigation, business bankruptcy and business planning. The two-term councilmember serves as chair of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee and has spearheaded reforms to incentives given to real estate developers. Christopher C. Sabis, previously an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, has joined the firm and will focus in the areas of government, internal investigations and False Claims Act litigation. Outside of the office, he is a BPR hearing examiner, master of the bench for the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court, and an adjunct professor of law at Belmont University. He also is a past chair of the TBA’s Federal Practice Section. 

Baker Donelson has named city chairs for its Pro Bono Committee. They are Allie Weiss in Chattanooga, Nathan Kibler in Knoxville, Matthew S. Mulqueen in Memphis, and Christopher Douse in Nashville. Chairs will identify and address local pro bono needs while also coordinating with Baker Donelson’s firm-wide pro bono shareholder and Nashville attorney Samuel T. Bowman on global pro bono initiatives.

The Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings recently announced two new hires and honors for three of its attorneys. New associate attorneys are Madison Crooks Haynes and Richard W. F. Swor. Haynes, a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, joins the Economic Development Practice Group. Swor, a graduate of the Belmont University College of Law, joins the Litigation Practice Group.

   Two of the firm’s attorneys recently received awards from the Nashville Bar Association (NBA). Jeffrey Allen, who focuses on entertainment and intellectual property, received the CLE Excellence Award for his work as co-chair of the Entertainment, Sports and Media Law Committee. He also was appointed NBA treasurer for 2020. He is a member of the TBA Entertainment and Sports Law Section’s executive council.
   Casey L. Miller received the Enterprise Award from the NBA Young Lawyers Division (YLD) for her role as co-chair of the Carbolic Smoke Ball Committee, which plans an annual event that benefits CASA Nashville and Nashville Children’s Alliance. Miller also was appointed to two new leadership roles with the NBA. During 2020, she will serve as a member of the executive board and director of professional development for the YLD, and as co-chair of the NBA’s Chancery and Circuit Court Committee. Miller practices in the firm’s Litigation Group and represents clients in a variety of commercial litigation and dispute resolution matters.

Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) staff attorney Kirsten Jacobson has been selected for the Leadership Tennessee NEXT Class II, a statewide program that brings mid-career professionals together to learn, collaborate and grow as leaders in the state and their respective industries. At TALS, Jacobson focuses on leveraging technology to provide new legal service delivery models and increase access to legal care for low-income Tennesseans. She also is a member of the TBA Access to Justice Committee.

Tannera Gibson, a member at the Memphis law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson, has been elected secretary and treasurer of the Memphis Bar Association. The selection puts her in line to become president of the association in 2022. Gibson focuses her practice on employment law, municipal law, health care liability, and commercial and business litigation. She was a member of the TBA’s 2019 Leadership Law class and was selected as that year’s recipient of the Larry Dean Wilkes Award.

   The firm also announced recently that attorney Charlie Newman received the Memphis Bar Association’s Judge Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Lawyer Award, which recognizes an attorney who exemplifies civility and decorum. Newman helped represent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the city’s sanitation workers’ strike and played a key role in other citywide efforts such as the Big River Crossing, Greenline, Shelby Farms Park and Mighty Lights, as well as stopping plans to route Interstate 40 through Overton Park. Newman focuses on commercial and business litigation, government relations, insurance, intellectual property, information technology and media law.

J. Matthew Drake has joined the Knoxville office of Lewis Thomason where he will focus on construction, transportation and premises liability law. He also will assist clients in the areas of privacy and data security law. A U.S. Army veteran, Drake served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom III and as the command judge advocate for a NATO multinational task force. He continues to serve as a judge advocate with the Tennessee Army National Guard. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently appointed retired Judge John Damron as special judge to preside over the Coffee County General Sessions and Juvenile Court as needed, following the sudden death of Judge Tim Brock, who died last November. Damron previously served as a general sessions judge in the 22nd Judicial District, which covers Giles, Lawrence, Maury and Wayne counties. He will fill the seat until the next election.

The Washington County Bar Association has named new officers for 2020. TBA members among the group are President-Elect Jesse Campbell with Tom Bible Law in Kingsport, Vice President Sunny Sandos with the city of Johnson City and Immediate Past President Brandy Balding with Hancock, Daniel & Johnson in Johnson City. New board members are Solange McDaniel with Herndon Coleman Brading & McKee in Johnson City, Richard Phillips with The Law Office of Richard Phillips in Jonesborough and Tom Smith with the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates in Johnson City.

Nashville attorney Cheryl B. Williams has been named assistant general counsel for legal & regulatory affairs at Truist Financial Corporation, a firm created by the merger of Branch Banking & Trust and SunTrust Bank in December 2019. Williams joins the Employment Legal Team and will provide legal support focusing on immigration, contingent worker compliance, talent acquisition and human resources. She previously was with SunTrust Bank, and before that practiced immigration law in Nashville. 

Germantown lawyer Kevin Snider has been nominated for the Memphis Business Journal’s 2020 Best of the Bar Awards. Snider, who practices with Snider & Horner, focuses on consumer protection and family law. He was nominated by Wise Choices and AdVentures Media Solutions for his advocacy of stronger consumer protection laws.

Nashville lawyer Cort Bethmann has been promoted to senior vice president and wealth advisor at Argent Trust. He will work directly with clients to deliver wealth management advice in estate planning, strategic asset protection, directed trusts, charitable giving strategies and legacy planning. Formerly with Franklin-based Independence Trust Company, Bethmann joined Argent in 2017 following its merger with Independence. Bethmann earned his law degree and a master of laws degree in wealth management from Texas A&M University School of Law. 

The Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals (TARCP) held its 15th Annual Recovery Court Conference recently and honored two judges and two state legislators for their work helping people with substance disorders. The TBA member among the group is 21st Judicial District Circuit Court Judge James G. Martin III, who received the 2019 Making a Difference Award. The ceremony was dedicated to former TARCP award winner and longtime recovery court and Coffee County General Sessions and Juvenile Judge Tim Brock, who died in November.

The Nashville Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has named Nashville attorney Tabitha Robinson to its 2020 class of Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30, recognizing young professionals and philanthropists. Class members are nominated by peers, co-workers and supervisors. Robinson works at Nashville Electric Service. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court recently appointed new members to serve on its Access to Justice Commission. TBA members among the group are Amber D. Floyd and law professor Joy Radice. They will begin their terms on April 1. Floyd is the senior assistant city attorney in Memphis and has worked with the commission in the past to develop expungement clinics across the state. Radice is an associate professor of law and director of clinical programs at the University of Tennessee College of Law and facilitated the first multi-county expungement clinic in the 10th Judicial District in 2018. Those completing their service on the commission board include Nashville lawyer Gail Vaughn Ashworth with Wiseman Ashworth Law Group,  Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services Executive Director Ann Pruitt, and Memphis lawyer Sharon Ryan with International Paper.

Nashville lawyer Darlene Marsh has been appointed for a three-year term to the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry Board of Directors. The board is the governing body of the chamber and provides leadership for operations and legislative and policy agendas. Marsh is a former president and current member of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, past chair of the Nashville Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee, past chair of the TBA Environmental Law Section and current member of the TBA House of Delegates. 

Knoxville lawyer Hanson R. Tipton assumed the presidency of the Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) at the group’s annual meeting in December. An attorney with Watson, Roach, Batson & Lauderback, Tipton announced a focus on servant leadership for the year. Other officers elected were President-Elect Cheryl Rice, Treasurer Jason Long and Secretary Loretta Cravens. New board members also were elected. TBA members among that group were Mark Castleberry, Judge Kristi Davis and Elizabeth Towe. The association also presented a number of awards. Thomas S. Scott Jr. received the KBA’s highest award, the Governors’ Award, while U.S. District Court Judge Pamela L. Reeves received the Judicial Excellence Award. Courtney Epps Read and Emily Stulce received Presidents’ Awards from outgoing president Wynne Caffey-Knight for their work as co-chairs of the Functions Committee, and Luke Ihnen received the award for outstanding writing.

Kelly Thomas has joined the new Nashville-area office of Starnes Davis Florie as a partner in the firm. She will provide counsel to health care providers in the areas of medical malpractice litigation, long-term care and nursing home litigation, risk and claims management, and regulatory and compliance issues. Thomas earned her law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law and has worked in health care law for 16 years. The new office is located at 3000 Meridian Blvd., Ste. 170, Franklin, TN 37067. It can reached at 615-905-7200 or 

The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) elected new leaders and board members at its Annual Meeting in December. Laura Baker, a shareholder with the Law Offices of John Day, took over as president from Laura Smith with Nashville Electric Service. TBA members among the others elected include First Vice President W. Brantley Phillips Jr. with Bass Berry & Sims; President-Elect Michael G. Abelow with Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison; Second Vice President-Elect Daniel P. Berexa with Cornelius & Collins; Secretary J. Bart Pickett; Treasurer Jeffrey L. Allen with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; and YLD President D. Gil Schuette with Sims Funk. New board members are Lora Barkenbus Fox with Metro Nashville Department of Law; William J. “Paz” Haynes III with Bone McAllester Norton; Marlene Eskind Moses with MTR Family Law; Junaid Odubeko with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Luther Wright Jr. with Ogletree Deakins; and Gulam Zade with LOGICFORCE.


Former Nashville attorney FRED P. GRAHAM died Dec. 28, 2019, at his home in Washington, D.C., at the age of 88. Born in Little Rock, Graham attended high school in Nashville and earned his undergraduate degree from Yale. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea and Japan, he attended Vanderbilt University Law School where he also worked as a reporter for The Tennessean until receiving his law degree in 1959. Graham practiced law in Nashville before moving to Washington to serve as chief counsel of a Judiciary Committee subcommittee under Sen. Estes Kefauver, D-Tennessee, and as an aide to Labor Secretary W. Willard Wirtz. In 1965, he became the first lawyer covering the U.S. Supreme Court for The New York Times, covering the 1971 Pentagon Papers case. Additionally, Graham served as a legal correspondent for the CBS network, as a local news anchor for Nashville’s ABC affiliate, WKRN, and in 1991 joined Court TV where he covered the trial of O. J. Simpson. He was a TBA Senior Counselor.

Gallatin lawyer JAMES BARRETT HAWKINS died Dec. 6, 2019, following a battle with lymphoma. He was 63. Hawkins was a high school teacher in Danville, Kentucky, before earning a master’s degree in educational policy studies from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from Duke University. He clerked for the Tennessee Supreme Court, worked with Harsh, Kelly & Smith and the BellSouth Corporation; served as managing attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin office; and, in 2009, opened a general practice law office in Gallatin. Memorial donations may be made to the Gallatin First United Methodist Church, 149 W. Main St., Gallatin 37066 or a charitable organization of the donor’s choice.

STEPHEN DEADERICK POTTS died Dec. 12, 2019, at the age of 89. Originally from Memphis, Potts graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School and joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In 1961, he joined his older brother, Ramsay Potts, at the law firm of Shaw Pittman Potts & Trowbridge in Washington, D.C., and served there for 30 years. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush nominated Potts to head the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. He served two five-year terms there. In 2001, he became interim president of the Ethics Research Center and later served as chair of the center’s board of directors. He returned to public service when President George W. Bush asked him to join the White House Counsel’s Office. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ethics Research Center, 2650 Park Tower Dr., Ste. 802, Vienna, VA 22180.