The Torch

Page 1

25 F A L L

2 0 1 8


FA LL 2018

W H AT ’ S I N S I D E : 3

School celebrates 25th Recognition Dinner


The Power of Legacy: Chief Justice Frank Drowota


Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Hears Oral Arguments at NSL


School Launches New Website






Nashville School of Law Welcomes the Class of 2022


Nashville School of Law Celebrates the Class of 2018


Student Profile: Elizabeth Spurbeck


Student Profile: Will Ayers


Legal Aid Society Lends a Hand to Access to Justice Initiative


NSL Awards Nearly $75,000 in Scholarships for 2017-18 School Year


Creecy Has Witnessed NSL Grow, Change for More than 40 Years


Clark Spoden: High Expectations


Walter Taylor Retires After Three Decades at NSL


Pete Cantrell: Six Decades of Dedication to NSL


Board and Faculty Updates


Frogge, Hugan Join Faculty


Alumni Profile: Jeff Long


In Memoriam


Class Notes


February 2018 Bar Exam Success List

PUBLISHER William C. Koch, Jr. MANAGI N G E DI T O R Michele Wojciechowski WRITER David L. Hudson, Jr. GENERAL I NQU I RI ES 615.256.3684


Bridge Builders and Mentors If you happen upon a turtle on a fence post, you may safely presume that it did not get there without some help. Like that turtle, when you encounter a truly professional lawyer, you may also presume that she or he did not master the art of lawyering without some help. This edition of The Torch celebrates persons who have built bridges enabling others to have rewarding and meaningful legal careers and who have perpetuated and passed down the finest traditions of the practice of law to those coming after them. Sixty-four graduates received their Juris Doctor degrees in May. Speaking on behalf of his fellow graduates, Andrew Bellm acknowledged the help and support the class received from the School’s faculty and staff and their employers, family members, and friends. He particularly thanked the faculty, saying “[W]ithout your dedication and knowledge, this journey through law school would not be possible.” Mr. Bellm is correct. Our faculty is, and always will be, the foundation of the School’s and our graduates’ success. Several weeks later, at the 25th anniversary of our Annual Recognition Dinner, we celebrated the men and women who have been recognized over the years for their professional skills, their commitment to our School, and their contributions to the practice of law and the broader community. What a distinguished group they are—36 graduates, 32 professors, and six recipients of the Community Service Award. While each individual honoree’s contributions are unique, they all share a demonstrated commitment to professionalism in the practice of law and a desire to help others.

As our School looks ahead to its next century of service, it is fitting to acknowledge the help we have received since 1911. Our four founders created our School to be a bridge to the practice of law for working men and women. The members of our Board of Trustees have wisely and successfully guided our School through dramatic changes in legal education and the practice of law. We would not be able to continue to accomplish our historic mission were it not for the leadership and vision of persons like Tom Cone, Douglas Fisher, and Aubrey Harwell, as well as all their current and former colleagues on the Board. The four deans who preceded me kept our School moving in the right direction for more than a century. The members of our faculty have freely shared their time and talent with our students. Finally, our graduates and other supporters have advanced our mission with their financial gifts and their willingness to mentor our students during law school and after they enter the practice of law. The theme of helping others runs through this edition of The Torch. As you read it, I hope you will not only recall those who have helped you, but that you also will be inspired to redouble your commitment to be a bridge builder and mentor yourself. Sincerely,

William C. Koch, Jr. President and Dean




n 1994, a gallon of gas was just over $1, Shawshank Redemption was in movie theaters, and Nashville’s “Batman Building” was just wrapping up construction. Also that year, Nashville School of Law held its first annual Recognition Dinner, a tradition that has continued for 25 years.

In addition to the 2018 honorees, this year’s dinner paid tribute to the 72 individuals who have been recognized in the past quarter-century as alumni, faculty, or community service honorees. This year’s alumni honoree was Charles R. Niewold, a 1984 graduate of the School who has been instrumental in carrying on the tradition of the dinner each year. The faculty honoree was David R. Hudson, Jr., who has taught at the School since 2005. In what’s believed to be the largest social gathering of attorneys in the state each year, the dinner was held June 8 in the newly renovated ballroom at the Nashville Renaissance Hotel. Nearly 600 people attended the cocktail reception and dinner

that attracted Mayor David Briley, gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, all five members of the Tennessee Supreme Court, and many members of the state’s appellate, trial and other courts. The event raised more than $120,000 for the School. After welcoming remarks from the Hon. William C. Koch, Jr., president and dean of Nashville School of Law, Frank G. Clement, Jr. gave the invocation. Clement, a 1979 graduate of the School, is presiding judge of the Middle Section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He also is a member of the School’s Board of Trust. During the meal, guests enjoyed a slideshow with more than 100 photos from previous dinners. Prior to the awards presentation, students presented Silver Sponsors with a customized NSL silver mint julep cup filled with flowers. Leadership Donors, who donated $25,000 to the School in honor of the Anniversary Dinner, were Charlotte and Tom Cone; Brenda Franks Hale and Douglas S. Hale; Carol and John Rochford

of Rochford Realty & Construction Company; and Mary Frances Rudy. Charles “Charlie” R. Niewold was the evening’s alumni honoree. The 1984 graduate met his wife, Laura Goodall, on one of the first nights of class at NSL and they married shortly after graduation. Both have practiced law in the Nashville area ever since. As Dean Koch noted, it is Niewold’s “long dedication to the dinner that has made it the success it is,” but that he “prefers to work behind the scenes out of the limelight. He is more comfortable giving rather than receiving recognition.” Koch quipped that Niewold was temporarily relieved of his duties overseeing plans for the dinner so that the School could properly honor him this year, but the emphasis was on “temporarily.” Niewold’s dedicated spirit shows in all things important to him. Dean Koch quoted Niewold as saying, “To realtors, it’s location,


2 5 T H


location, location; for attorneys, it’s reputation, reputation, reputation.” “It would be difficult to overstate Charlie’s commitment to the practice of law and to his clients,” Koch continued. “He has a dogged devotion to his clients and to their cases. He takes his obligation to them seriously.” Niewold readily speaks of the impact other attorneys had on his life and career and credits the lawyers who mentored him for showing him how to be a true professional.

D I N N E R ,


Dean Koch presented David L. Hudson, Jr. with the Faculty Award. Hudson joined the School in 2005 and became a member of the staff in 2014, serving as Director of Academic Affairs in addition to his teaching duties. “David’s contributions to the School cannot be overstated. He has touched the lives of hundreds of students and has shepherded them to successful careers on the bench and bar. His affable nature and generous spirit have endeared him to many personally and professionally,” Koch said.

“I was fortunate to have mentors, which I think is so important for young lawyers to have,” Niewold said. “I am thankful for those relationships and opportunities, formed at the Nashville School of Law and with the lawyers that I practiced with.”

Hudson’s teachings focus on beginning and advanced legal writing and, for the last several years, bar exam preparation. He also has taught Tennessee Constitutional Law and First Amendment Law.

Charlie also credits his success with his close-knit law school class of 1984.

“He really connects with the students in the classroom. He educates from a position of erudite authority without talking down to anybody,” Koch said.

Niewold thanked those who encouraged him along the way, including his parents who urged him to look outside his home state of Texas for his education, which ultimately led him to Vanderbilt University for his undergraduate degree, then Nashville School of Law.


A noted expert on First Amendment issues, Hudson also serves as the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Fellow and recently took a teaching position at Belmont University College of Law.

Upon receiving the award, Hudson shared tales of many of his students over the years and thanked those who have helped shape his life and ultimately brought him to this day. “It’s really one of the greatest honors of my life,” Hudson said of the award. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University. He is a native of Murfreesboro, and he and his wife, Carla, live in Nashville. At the conclusion of the program, all current and former honorees gathered for a group photo and were presented with Nashville School of Law neckties or scarves. All guests received a mint julep cup imprinted with the School’s logo as a favor.• 1. Laura Goodall Niewold (1984), alumnus honoree Charlie Niewold (1984), Board of Trust Chairman Aubrey B. Harwell, Jr., Assistant Dean Beth McDonald, Carlana Harwell. 2. Susan Wilson, Chancellor Howard Wilson (1989), Michelle Blaylock-Howser (2006), Eric Howser. 3. Judge David Bragg (1994), Judge Randy Kennedy, Sherry Ailor, Judge Bill Ailor (1989).






• • • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Charlotte & Tom Cone Brenda Franks Hale & Douglas S. Hale Carol & John Rochford, Rochford Realty & Construction Company Mary Frances Rudy

DEAN’S COUNCIL • Claire Drowota on behalf of Justice Frank F. Drowota, III • Neal & Harwell, PLC


Burr + Forman Maddox Foundation, Hernando, Mississippi Debby & Bill Koch Bob & Marlene Eskind Moses


DVL Seigenthaler | FINN Partners Mark Fishburn & Laura Dykes Equitable Trust Lowery, Lowery & Cherry Laura & Charlie Niewold Anne & Joe Russell Larry R. Williams, PLLC

Lynn E. Alexander Beck & Beck Luther E. Cantrell, Jr. Class of 2011 Cornelius & Collins, LLP Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella, P.C. Julie & Doug Fisher Betty & Bobby Goodall GSRM Law Hal Hardin Kal Helou Kay B. Housch, P.C. David L. Hudson, Sr., M.D. Kevin Kennedy & The Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC Mary LaGrone Lewis Thomason King Krieg & Waldrop LogicForce Consulting, LLC The Law Office of Michael Meise Moqedah Lodge of Perfection #7 Nashville Scottish Rite Bodies Parsley, Parsley & Strickland, LLC Patterson Intellectual Property Law Michelle Poss Regions Bank Rogers, Kamm & Shea Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, PLC Story Abernathy and Campbell Suzanne Keith - Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association Tune Entrekin & White, P.C.


ALUMNI HONOREES Charles R. Niewold 2018 Mary Frances Rudy 2017 Larry R. Williams 2017 Brenda Franks Hale 2016 Douglas S. Hale 2016 Martha Cone Beck 2015 Robert H. Goodall 2015 Hon. Barbara N. Haynes 2013 Hon. William G. “Bill” Wilkinson 2012 Hon. James W. “Bill” Stinnett, Jr. 2012 Robert L. Ballow 2011 Sue B. Cain 2010 Tom B. Thurman 2009 Anne L. Russell 2008 Suzanne G. Keith 2007 Hon. Joseph C. Loser, Jr. 2006 Jack Norman, Jr. 2005 Elizabeth L. Miller 2005

Sen. Sara Kyle Hon. Irvin H. Kilcrease, Jr. John T. Rochford, III David B. Herbert Charles H. Farmer Lance B. Bracy Marlene Eskind Moses Thomas D. Benson Hon. Jane C. Franks R. Hix Clark William C. Keaton Kathryn Reed Edge R. B. Parker, Jr. Charles W. Fentress Luther E. ‘Pete’ Cantrell, Jr. Rebecca Thomas Harlan Mathews Sen. Joe M. Haynes


2004 2004 2003 2003 2002 2002 2001 2001 2000 2000 1999 1999 1998 1997 1996 1996 1995 1994

David L. Hudson, Jr. Hon. Robert E. Corlew, III Hal Hardin Hon. Carlton M. Lewis Hon. Marshall L. Davidson, III George A. Dean Trevor W. Howell Hon. Muriel Robinson John Lewis Mark H. Westlake K. Harlan Dodson Hon. Joseph C. Loser, Jr. James C. Mcbroom Hon. Ben H. Cantrell Jim G. Creecy Nancy Krider Corley Thomas I. Carlton, Jr. Jack A. Butler Richard H. Frank, Jr. Joseph O. Martin, Jr.

2018 2017 2016 2015 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2002 2001 2001 2000

James I. Vance Berry F. Clay Bailey, Jr. Leroy J. Ellis, III Hon. Thomas H. Shriver Harris A. Gilbert Douglas M. Fisher Hon. E. M. Haywood William H. Woods James C. Dale, Jr. Hon. Henry F. Todd Hon. William J. Harbison Tyree B. Harris, III

2000 1999 1999 1998 1997 1997 1996 1996 1995 1995 1994 1994

COMMUNITY SERVICE HONOREES Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey Charles H. Warfield Howard Gentry, Jr. Aubrey B. Harwell, Jr. Sen. Douglas Henry, Jr. Hon. Frank F. Drowota, III

2016 2015 2013 2012 2008 2007 5





ore than four decades. That is how long Nashville-based attorney Jim Creecy educated students at Nashville School of Law. Whether it was legal writing, accounting for lawyers, or tax law, Creecy approached his teaching duties with professionalism, care, and dignity for 42 years.

He also enjoyed it immensely, before announcing his retirement in 2018. “Teaching at NSL has been a big part of my professional career,” he said. “It allowed me to give back some.” Creecy was born in Athens, Alabama, and grew up in Pulaski, Tennessee, where he attended Giles County High School. He thought of law as an appealing profession even back in those days. After graduating high school, he went on to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he was an accounting major. After college, Creecy worked at an accounting firm in Atlanta for one year, where he passed the Certified Public Accounting exam. He then decided to increase his career opportunities by adding a law degree and enrolled in Vanderbilt Law School, graduating in 1974. During law school, he also clerked at the local law firm of3.Stephenson, Lackey & Holman. It was there Creecy forged his first bonds with Nashville School of Law, as named partners at his law firm included the School’s dean, J.G. Lackey, and Property instructor Tom Holman.

“Dean Lackey called me in 1976 and asked if I would teach legal research and writing,” Creecy recalled. “The stalwarts of the Nashville bar were there—Harlan Dodson, Sr., Judge Henry Todd, Judge Ben Cantrell, Tom Shriver, Ervin Entrekin, Clay Bailey, Jack Butler and others,” he said with a reverent tone. “I was in awe to be associated with these great lawyers.” In his early years, the school was located in the YMCA building downtown. “It was a bare-bones facility. There were not a lot of frills and thrills back then,” said Creecy. “We had 130 first-year students and I remember people smoking in class. It was a different world then.” Through the years, he used a varied approach in pedagogy. “I was never a hard taskmaster, but I expected my students to be prepared,” he said. “I heard some interesting excuses through the years.” “He was knowledgeable, considerate, and dedicated to his students,” says Martin Giner (1986). “Mr. Creecy kept up with many of his students, even after they graduated. He has been an ambassador for the school all these years.” In 1986, Judge Joe C. Loser, Jr. became dean of the School and Creecy followed along as Dean Loser led NSL to its new location on Armory Oaks Drive.

“It is a great facility,” he says. “I applaud Dean Loser Upon graduation, the firm offered him a position and for his vision in moving the school forward. “NSL Jim Creecy he had a general civil practice with an emphasis on real has changed a lot during the years and I have enjoyed estate work. He then transitioned to the Attorney General’s office, watching it grow.” where he worked for more than 30 years. He held a variety of positions during his tenure, including assistant attorney general in the As a veteran teacher and attorney, Creecy offers advice to those tax area, senior assistant, deputy attorney general, associate chief following in his footsteps. deputy, and then chief special counsel for litigation. “Work hard, as law is not a place for a lazy person,” he said. “Your “The practice of law has its peaks and valleys,” Creecy said. “The law professional reputation is an asset that you have and you don’t want is a lot more creative than accounting. It is similar to a chess game to squander it. Always do the best that you can.” where you have to anticipate what the other side is going to do. It is also intellectually stimulating.” He also stresses that young lawyers must learn to accept defeats as well as victories. Even longer than his tenure at the Attorney General’s office was his time teaching at the School. “You are not going to win every case,” he says. “You will learn that the outcome of a case is not the end of the world.”







lark Spoden’s name is synonymous with high expectations. Ask any Nashville School of Law graduate of the last 15 years to name a challenging professor, and Spoden’s name is likely to come up. Those same graduates also emphasize the valuable information they absorbed from his Remedies class.

And that is exactly how the Nashville-based attorney wants it. He believes that a strong dose of the Socratic method ensures that his students come out of his classroom learning and understanding the material. While he is now a mainstay of the Nashville legal community and a partner at Burr & Forman, Spoden’s roots are in East Tennessee. He grew up in Kingsport and attended Dobyns-Bennett High School. His passion for the law started early – when he was eight years old, he picked up a book on the presidents and began noticing a pattern: most of the presidents, especially the early ones, were lawyers. His mother’s influence helped him transform that ambition into excellence in practice.

“That was a fantastic experience,” he recalled of working with the legendary Nashville jurist. Tennessee’s hold on Spoden was stronger than the pull of New York and he decided to start his legal career in private practice in Nashville. “I realized the bar was very sharp here,” he said. “And I knew I would get to court much sooner in Nashville than in New York.” Spoden started his career at Dearborn & Ewing, where he acquired a reputation as an excellent litigator in environmental law. Coincidentally, he worked on a major environmental law case in Judge Wiseman’s court.

Later, he transitioned to the law firm of Ogletree Deakins, where he specialized in employment law and construction law. He continued his legal career at Clark Spoden other prominent law firms, including Frost, Brown & Todd, Stites & Harbison, and his current firm, Burr & Forman. Over the years at the various firms, he has valued the relationships he has forged with longstanding clients. “My mother instilled in me early the importance of being a good speaker. She drilled me on the importance of public presentation “I’ve represented some people for more than 20 years. It is invaluable and entered me in competitions,” Spoden said. to have them trust me to be their advisor and advocate over that period of time,” Spoden said. After high school, he attended college at The University of the South at Sewanee, majoring in political science with a concentration in TEACHING AT NSL constitutional law. He learned con law from Dr. Robert Keele, an experience that only deepened his love of law. Spoden first learned of NSL when he substituted for Clay Bailey at the YMCA location in downtown Nashville. Most of those students Spoden initially planned to take a full-time job in Virginia and weren’t quite prepared for Spoden’s rigorous Socratic method of attend law school at the state’s flagship school but changed his mind teaching – most, but not all. after he was accepted at the University of Tennessee College of Law. In Knoxville, he recalls fondly the teaching of Dick Wirtz, whose Spoden came to know his future employer at NSL while he was a father was secretary of labor in the Eisenhower Administration. young lawyer – he tried a case in a circuit court presided over by Judge Joe C. Loser, Jr. before Loser was dean at the School. “He was a great teacher,” Spoden said. “I learned a lot from him.” “I obtained a sizeable verdict in his courtroom in a slip and fall case,” LEGAL CAREER he said. “Judge Loser was a no-nonsense judge.” Spoden planned on a law career in the bright lights of the Big Apple, Judge Loser later appointed Spoden as special master in a case being but obtained a prestigious federal clerkship with Judge Thomas litigated by such lions of the bar as Jack Madden and Ward DeWitt. Wiseman in Nashville. CONTINUED ON PAGE 11






ew students from all over the state of Tennessee—and one that hails from Kentucky—got their first sampling of law school life when they attended new student orientation on July 26 – 27.

This was the second year for the overhauled orientation program that immerses students in two days of panel discussions, lectures, and other sessions designed to prepare them for their four-year journey through Nashville School of Law and beyond. “We’re honored that you chose us for your legal education,” said William C. Koch, Jr., President and Dean of Nashville School of Law. Koch emphasized that the entire faculty and staff was committed to helping the students succeed. “We all have skin in the game here. This is going be a collective enterprise in getting where you want to go,” Koch said. He also emphasized the importance of building a foundation of professionalism upon which students could develop their careers. Koch specifically mentioned accountability, consideration, humility, collegiality, and consistency as key qualities to maintain moving forward.



“Professionalism doesn’t mean winning at all costs. Professionalism sometimes means losing the right way,” Koch said. Following the remarks from Dean Koch, the first day kicked off with a professionalism panel moderated by Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr., an alumni and member of the School’s Board of Trust. Having received high marks at the 2017 orientation program, the session was revived for this year, featuring many of the same panelists.

honorable profession,” and “to be a person of principle.” Faculty members and rising 2L students joined the new class for an evening reception at the School. The second day was devoted to more practical matters of law school, as students learned about the various resources and technologies available to them, took a 2.

Additional sessions focused on reading and briefing cases, judicial authority, notetaking and outlining for law school, time and stress management, and a brief introduction to the bar exam. Speakers and panelists included current and former students, faculty members, and other representatives from the legal community. The students also took an Oath of Professionalism, administered by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Roger A. Page, who encouraged students to pursue their legal dreams despite any future obstacles. The 200-word oath asked the students to “strive to live up to the high standards and principles expected of this



Class of 2022 By the Numbers • 82 Enrolled in First Year Class • Median LSAT: 148 • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.19 • 9.75% Minority Students • 57% Female Students • 42 Cities Represented • 36 Undergraduate Schools Represented



standardized reading test, and registered for classes. Students were invited to learn about various organizations including the Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, TLAP, Access to Justice, Tennessee Trial Lawyers’ Association, and other student groups.

As part of the five-week “Practice & Professionalism” series, students will spend two weeks at the beginning of the year and three weeks at the end of the first year hearing from attorneys and other professionals about the importance of these adjuvant professional traits.

During the first two weeks of school, students heard from guest lecturers, Attorney John Day and David Shearon. Day spoke about the importance of reputation in a lawyer’s career and Shearon conducted a session on “Building Professionalism on a Foundation of Strength.”

The School has commenced plans for the 2019 orientation and is already receiving applications for the class of 2023.•

1. Nashville School of Law Class of 2022. 2. Incoming 1L students take the Oath of Professionalism. 3. President & Dean William C. Koch, Jr. and new student Sara Denman. 4. Professor William Harbison speaks with students at a reception held at the School. 5. Justice Roger A. Page signs the Oaths of Professionalism. 6. New students Elisha Reed and Shannon Kerr.



Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long is sworn into office by Gov. Bill Haslam on August 30.




illiamson County Sheriff Jeff Long says he owes much of his career success to his education at Nashville School of Law.

“The School put me into the next arena with my law degree,” he says. “I can’t stress enough how important that was to me.” Long took an interest in law enforcement from an early age, though his mother thought he was going to be a Methodist preacher. He was born and raised in Decatur County and graduated from Riverside High School. He then majored in political science and criminal justice at the University of Memphis. After college, Long served with the state fire marshal’s office as an arson investigator, then worked with the Veterans Administration. He moved to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office


“TODAY’S LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOT ALWAYS VIEWED IN A POSITIVE LIGHT,” HE SAID. “I HAVE WORKED HARD TO TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE ACROSS THE STATE IN RAISING THE TRUST OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.” — Jeff Long and served as an investigator for the 17th Judicial District, which is now the 21st Judicial District and includes Williamson County. In 1981, he started his studies at Nashville School of Law. The choice for Long was obvious, as he needed to work during the day and go to school at night. “I wanted to learn more about the law, as I was in the investigative business and had an eye on working for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).”

decided to run,” he said. Ten years later, Long uses his law school education every day. “Deputies come to me to ask legal questions,” he said. “I will often proof their search warrants.” He enjoys dealing with the community every day and representing his county, which is continuing to grow rapidly. Long is most proud of bringing trust and goodwill to law enforcement.

“Today’s law enforcement is He had to cut down to taking not always viewed in a positive classes part time for a couple light,” he said. “I have worked years, but Long received his hard to try to make a difference degree in 1987. He loved his Jeff Long across the state in raising the time at NSL, fondly recalling trust of law enforcement.” the teaching of Davidson County District Attorney General Tom Shriver in Criminal Long tries to live every day by the mantra Law, Jack Butler for Moot Court and Mark ‘Do the right thing.’” Westlake for Legal Research and Writing. He also is quite proud of his family. Long’s Long worked with the TBI for several years son is a narcotics officer at the sheriff’s after graduation, then took a job as an office and his daughter works as a nurse. assistant district attorney in the 21st judicial His wife is retired from more than 40 years district. “I handled everything in that job,” working in the education system. he recalls. Long’s advice to current NSL students: In 2008, he received a request from one of “Appreciate the opportunity you have at NSL the circuit court judges and a circuit court and try to learn everything you can. Much clerk to run for Williamson County Sheriff. of the material you learn in class will apply in your daily professional lives.”• “I agreed to meet with county officials and

CLARK SPODEN: HIGH EXPECTATIONS, CONTINUED Initially Spoden hoped to teach Civil Procedure, but Judge Loser asked him to teach Remedies, which he has done since 2003. “I didn’t know this would become such a labor of love,” he said. Spoden places high demands on students and takes pride in his teaching. “My goal is to instill in them the knowledge of the course,” he said. “I try to make it interesting and engender discussion. I expect them to know what they are talking about when they speak in class.” His students appreciate his expectations and mastery of the subject. “Over the course of our challenging year in Remedies, Professor Spoden’s undaunted appreciation for quality student work became apparent. The standards he held himself and his students to had the transformative effect of pushing us to succeed,” said fourth-year student Alex Starr. He also really cares about whether his students learn the material. His greatest reward is seeing students who initially struggle improve over time. Spoden is not just a renowned lawyer and professor, but also an expert photographer. His interest in photography developed at Sewanee and he has self-published a few books of his photos. Whether it is law, teaching, or photography, Spoden excels. His secret to success is a love of learning. “You have to be prepared to continue learning,” he said.•







hief Justice Frank F. Drowota III, passed away on April 15, 2018 at the age of 79. He was one of the longest serving and most beloved justices in Tennessee history. He also was a member of the Nashville School of Law Board of Trust.

Judge Marshall L. Davidson, III has taught at the School since 1992. He served as a law clerk to Justice Drowota and shared these thoughts regarding his mentor. THE MAKING OF A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE Supreme Court justices, like everyone else, are shaped largely by their life experiences. So it was with Justice Drowota. He grew up in the Nashville church where his father served as the pastor for decades and, despite what they say about preachers’ kids, Justice Drowota maintained that he rarely misbehaved as a boy. However, there was an occasion when his father took him outside to spank him with a switch. Dr. Drowota said to his son, “This will hurt me more than it does you.” Young Frank replied, “Dad, I really don’t want this to hurt you, so let’s just call it even.” To his surprise, his father agreed, and so began Justice Drowota’s emerging talent as a skilled mediator.

1. Justice Frank F. Drowota, III and his wife, Claire. 2. Justice Drowota, Clair Drowota, Charlotte Cone, and Tom Cone.

Judge Marshall L. Davidson, III, worked with Chief Justice Drowota for many years, first as his law clerk and later as a staff attorney with the Supreme Court, and considered him a mentor. This tribute to Chief Justice Drowota was written by Judge Davidson, borrowing largely from the eulogy he offered at Justice Drowota’s funeral. 12

At Montgomery Bell Academy, young Frank matured into a scholar and an athlete. He graduated near the top of his class in 1956 and, not surprising to those who know him, his peers voted him “Most Friendly.” He played baseball, basketball, and ran track. But above all he excelled in football and, in fact, scored a crucial touchdown in a state championship game and his team won. The press reported the heroics of “Ace Halfback Drowota,” and he went on to play football for Vanderbilt University. The Tennessean reported in 1958 that he was “mighty hard to stop … much of the time you just can’t get a solid lick on him.” Unsure about whether to follow his father’s footsteps in the ministry, he entered the Navy and served aboard an aircraft carrier and was placed in charge of 200 men. He said that experience forced him to learn how to deal with people of all ages and backgrounds, a skill that would later prove useful in leading Tennessee’s judicial branch. Still unsure about a career, he took the LSAT while aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea. He did well on the test, earned his law degree from Vanderbilt, and met a girl named Claire at a youth camp where they worked as counselors. They married in


IN MEMORIAM: Anthony Adrian (Tony) Adgent (1993) James A. Bean (1962) Thomas D. Benson (1963) 1965 and, more than 50 years later, Justice Drowota was quick to point out that Claire was still the love of his life. In 1970, Justice Drowota was practicing law in Nashville when he was appointed to the Chancery Court of Davidson County which was the site of his most embarrassing moment as a judge. It happened during a trial when he leaned back in his chair as he normally did, but this time the chair flipped backward, catapulting him onto the floor and sending his feet flying toward the ceiling. Justice Drowota described the incident as “every judge’s worst nightmare,” but also a lesson in humility. After spending four years in the trenches of a busy trial court, Justice Drowota was appointed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals where he served until his election in 1980 to the Tennessee Supreme Court at the age of 42. He earned the respect and confidence of his new colleagues and they selected him to serve as Chief Justice not once, but twice. He served 25 years on the Supreme Court, the second longest in state history. Justice Grafton Green was the only justice to serve longer, but Justice Drowota wrote more opinions. CONTRIBUTIONS TO TENNESSEE LAW AND LEGAL SYSTEM During his more than 30 years as an appellate judge, Justice Drowota participated in more than 4,000 decisions. He

authored at least 1,000 majority opinions and, in all, roughly 20,000 cases seeking Supreme Court review passed over his desk. These numbers are astonishing for an appellate judge. Put simply, there is no area of Tennessee law without his thumbprint—contract law, administrative law, consumer law, criminal law, tax law, constitutional law, property law, procedural law, family law, evidence law, tort law, and workers’ compensation law. His impression is stamped across all of them. Although the earthly career of this just and able judge may be over, the anchor points he drove deep into virtually every area of Tennessee law will guide lawyers, juries, and judges for generations. Justice Drowota believed it was essential that courts keep pace with changes in society, especially technology, or risk being left behind. He recalled with both fondness and trepidation manual typewriters, carbon paper, and rotary telephones once used to do his work. However, when the time came, he fully embraced technology, such as performing legal research using tools called Westlaw and Lexis, using something called email to discuss court business with his colleagues, and using something known as video conferencing which, at first, he did not care for because he said it was harder to judge body language than being in the same room.

Catherine Dale Burrus Castleman (1981) Elmer S. Cook (1976) Philip Marshall DeBusk, Sr. (1976) Jesse Durham (1969) Richard H. Frank, Jr. Loniel Greene, Jr. (2011) Dinah Lea Gregory (1994) Richard Ray Hedgepath, Sr. (1966) Marshall L. Hix (1983) Willard Richard “Dicky” Husband (1976) Glenn Hutchins (1974) Frank S. Irlinger (1979) John Harrison Lowe (1978) John Raymond Neal (1968) Bernard Ray “Sarge” Sargent (1978)




2 0 1 8





he newly-renovated ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel was full as hundreds gathered to celebrate the graduation of 64 Nashville School of Law students.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Roger A. Page spoke of how his own career had a winding path before settling in to the law, and of how he knew many NSL students shared a similar path. He assured the graduates that diverse life experiences will serve them well as they enter the profession. “The law is living and ever-changing. The only constant is that people continue 1.

to look to lawyers to arrive at the proper definition of justice,” Justice Page said. “As the newest inductees into our profession, you will be responsible for shaping our legal landscape going forward. This is an awesome responsibility.” Professor Dan Berexa reminded the students to not overlook the impact and contributions of those that surrounded and supported them throughout law school. “Your presence here is a product of the support of families, significant others, friends, employers, educators, classmates and cheerleaders who helped you along the way. Graduates, now that you have a little breather – take the time show your appreciation for the folks in your life that made your presence here today possible,” he said. Professor Berexa continued to address the importance of a strong support system as he urged graduates to seek out mentors. “Even the most brilliant need the guidance, wisdom and support of others to maximize their potential. To be a guide, a grounding force, a sounding board and to learn from



the mentor’s mistakes so they are not repeated,” he said. The class of 2018 also heard from one of their own, Andrew Bellm. “Today marks both a completion and a new beginning. Today we celebrate an incredible milestone. Graduating from law school is indeed a remarkable and important achievement that deserves our celebration. But today is just a beginning,” Bellm said. He commented on how the School prepared them in many ways for their newly defined future. “Our legal careers stand before us with our highs and lows, successes and failures. But we know, that our education at the Nashville School of Law leaves us well prepared for the many challenges ahead,” he said. “We can rest assured that the diligence, perseverance, tenacity, and determination that brought us to this stage as graduates today will be the same traits that will carry us forward to success tomorrow.” The Hon. William C. Koch, Jr., president and dean of Nashville School of Law, provided some of the final words of the occasion, as he presented a charge to the graduates. “This is a moment of great consequence for the men and women who have been awarded their J.D. degree today,” Koch said. “Each of you are the true dreamers here. Greatness of human beings doesn’t lie so much in their ability to change the world, but in their power to remake themselves and that is what you have done.”•







THE CLASS 0F 2018 Julie Kaiser Alley Mark Edward Atchison Evan Phillip Baddour Andrew James Bellm Laura Schumacher Blum Summer Star Brashears Emily Anne Brogdon Christopher Thomas Bryant Kristy Marie Burney Kayla Stanfill Bynum Anthony James Cain John Clark Carden Katherine Nicole Cherry Mary Ruth Clark James Nicholas Clemmons Tessa Shaye Courtney Timothy Scott Daniel Derrick Ryan Davis Jamie Lynn Davis Ryan Keith Easterbrook Richard Wayne Edwards Kyle Richard Evans Johnika Nichelle Everhart Ashley Lynn Fine Zachary Scott Gainous Phillip Scott Gass Robert Elliott Graves Rachael Anne Hackler Wesley William Hall William Parker Hardy Brandi Nicole Hill George Wesley Holder, III

Emily Kate Hollowell Ethan Cole Ingham Adam Hill Jefferson Lindsey Waller Johnson Stephen Phillip Jones Shira Margaret Kingrey Nikki Klopfenstein Russell Emory Lockard Dana Ranae Looper Alexander Burkett Lovelace Nicole Latrice Martin Ross Mallegni Matuszak James Theoplis McCoin, III William Michael McGee Linda Quijano Morrison Whitney A. Mullinax Willard Landon Mullins Timothy Douglas Nanney Trent North Notestine William Ward O’Keefe David Michael Oldham Loyce Jeffery Payne Andrea Beth Pierpoint Jo Kathryn Robertson Mary Elizabeth Stoner J. Kasey Talbott Kevin Lee Terrett George H. Thompson, IV Kirby Thomas White Robert Ryan Wood Elizabeth Marie Woodard Sheldon Bradley Wright


1) Linda Morrison and Nicole Martin 2) George Thompson and Michael McGee 3) Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Roger Page gave the commencement address. 4) Evan Baddour receives his hood. 5) Students are recognized prior to receiving their degrees. 6) Shira Kingery offers the Benediction. 7) James McCoin shows off his diploma. 8) Mary Clark, Emily Brogdon, and Lindsey Johnson


W O R K E R S ’







“I was impressed and inspired by both the facilities at the Nashville School of Law and Dean Koch’s hospitality,” said Judge Hensley. “I enjoyed talking with the students before the session began and hope they gained an appreciation for the importance of being prepared and knowing the details of one’s case when participating in oral arguments.”



he Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board worked the night shift in Nashville on July 10 as the three-member panel heard oral arguments in two cases at Nashville School of Law.

1. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board hears cases in the appellate courtroom at the School. 2. Judge David F. Hensley and Judge Timothy W. Conner. 3. Presiding Judge Marshall L. Davidson, III and student John Murphy.

The School’s appellate courtroom was at capacity as students, faculty, and others involved in the cases listened to attorneys present their arguments and answer questions from the board regarding the facts, the law, and the trial courts’ decisions. “The Dean and staff made us feel so welcome, and it was gratifying to share our work with a courtroom full of people who represent the future of our profession,” said Judge Marshall L. Davidson, III, presiding judge of the panel. Judge Davidson has taught first-year and Advanced Torts at the School since 1992. This summer, he also taught Workers’ Compensation. Members of his class were among those who witnessed the proceedings.


In addition to Judge Davidson, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board members are Timothy W. Conner of Knoxville and David F. Hensley of Chattanooga.

Prior to the oral arguments, the School hosted a reception for members of the Appeals Board, who took the opportunity to meet students and other attendees. “This was an ideal opportunity for students to see the law they were studying in action,” Dean William C. Koch, Jr. said. “We are grateful to the Appeals Board for making the extra effort to be on our campus and delighted that they were able to interact with students and our School community.” More information about the two cases heard that night can be found at



ashville School of Law has launched a new website designed to make it easy for users to interact with and find information about the School.

attorney positions. Employers can follow an online link to submit their job openings, and those with an affiliation to NSL receive featured listings on the site.

The website, now, offers a new design and improved functionality, including a mobile-friendly interface. The site no longer requires login credentials, so students, alumni and visitors alike can easily access all areas and information.

Other changes to the site include:

The site includes extensive information for prospective students, including the history of the school, a 4,000-word FAQ section, and detailed application instructions. Job search functionality for students and alumni has also improved. Typically, more than two dozen career opportunities are posted on the site, with more being added several times each week. Jobs range from internships and part-time clerks to full-time

• In-depth profiles of faculty members, including links to the courses each professor leads. • An annual CLE calendar with links to register and pay for CLE online. • Multiple calendars that detail activities for students, events hosted by the School, and community happenings. • A more interactive and visual design that allows for more photos and videos. • Standing features, such as student, alumni, and faculty profiles, that will be updated on a regular basis.

As part of the launch of the new website, the School transitioned all class materials to Westlaw’s TWEN module, which offers a series of functions designed to enhance communication with students. Students can also access their grades, payment plan details, and student information accounts using SONIS, the School’s student information system. Applicants can apply online through the site as well. All services are linked through the School’s website.•








here is a reason that the book about the Nashville School of Law is titled Profiles in Tenacity. The School’s graduates exhibit a steadfastness and ability to overcome tough circumstances to better their lives by obtaining a legal education.

Third-year law student Elizabeth Spurbeck is a pristine example of an individual who has overcome circumstances to pursue her dreams. Although she was born in Searcy, Ark., Spurbeck grew up in Mexico, where her parents operated a Bible college at a ranch in Coahuila. Spurbeck was in Mexico from ages 4 to 9 and learned the meaning of hard work and discipline, as well as how to speak fluent Spanish. Later, she returned to Arkansas and finished high school. Her early years were far from idyllic. She suffered a lot of verbal abuse and was the victim of a sexual crime. Spurbeck persevered, although at her own pace. College was not the immediate next step after high school. “College was not strongly encouraged in the community I grew up in,” Spurbeck said frankly. “Instead, I got married and had children.” While she started a family, Spurbeck never lost sight of her dreams of a career in law. “I wanted to be an attorney ever since I was a kid,” she recalled. “I was probably 8 or 9 years old when I first wanted to be in the legal profession.”

“I was hoping to find the skills to help her, so I went into nursing,” Spurbeck said. “Sadly, she died while I was in school.”

Spurbeck enrolled at NSL while working full time at Maury Regional Hospital. She loves taking care of her patients, but also is thrilled by learning the law. “I love the classroom experience at NSL. I love the instructors,” she said. “Mr. [Bill] Harbison – he really cares about his students,” she said of her Contracts professor. “He never displays any irritation when students ask questions.”

She also loved her second-year professors. “Judge [Steve] Dozier really dug into the rules of evidence,” she said. “Judge [Don] Ash always knew when to offer an encourElizabeth Spurbeck aging word in Civil Procedure, while Dean Koch really made the stories come alive in Constitutional Law. Obviously, these people love what they do.”

At that time, her thoughts of being an attorney lay dormant, as she thought she was too old. However, a guidance counselor and career advisor encouraged her to go to law school. “He told me about Nashville School of Law and said I wasn’t too old,” she said.


— Elizabeth Spurbeck

She also mentions Judge Marshall Davidson, who teaches Torts: “He is so clear-cut and analytical.” She credits District Attorney General Glenn R. Funk for making criminal law “exciting to learn.”

She also read voraciously as a child and has memories of visiting the library with her mother to pick up dozens of books. Years later, she moved to Tennessee and enrolled at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski. Her inspiration was to help her mother, who was ill.


After law school, Spurbeck hopes to use her medical and legal training to help people. “I’d really like to utilize my knowledge of medicine with my law degree,” she said. “I also want to fight for the underdog.”•






ears as a journalist molded fourth-year law student Will Ayers into a gifted writer. Now he hopes to bring those writing skills into the chambers of a judge.

While he now excels in law school, law was not Ayers’ first love. That designation belonged to music and journalism. Born in Winston Salem, North Carolina, Ayers attended Mount Tabor High School in his hometown and then went on to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Immediately after college, he moved to Nashville, toting his drums, guitars and worldly possessions.

“Both of those men have a commanding knowledge of the material they teach as well as a gentle and forbearing spirit,” he said. “That combination really helped put me at ease as I was struggling to learn a new lexicon and absorb huge amounts of material.” Ayers also found his Negotiations class with theory and practice of negotiation professor, Larry Bridgesmith, to be beneficial for more than just law school. “I found that course eye-opening and incredibly useful for my personal life as well as my legal training,” he said. “I have a three-year-old daughter at home, so I do a lot of negotiating. I mostly lose.”

After a few weeks in Nashville, he landed a job at the Nashville City Paper. He went on to work at The Tennessean for several years, covering music, arts and culture. Ayers also wrote restaurant reviews. His editors were a key component in refining his writing. “Nothing will teach you how to write like an editor throwing something back in your face and saying, ‘This is trash. Write it over again,’” he said.

Ayers also has enjoyed working on a paper for the School’s new Rigorous Writing Program. His writing mentor is former Circuit Court Judge Walter Kurtz, who speaks highly of his mentee: Will Ayers

He left newspapers to work in health care communications at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He has enjoyed his work there, and continues it today, but decided to expand his horizons by adding a law degree. Ayers hadn’t really planned on law school, but heard a friend talk favorably of Nashville School of Law. “I also had the strange experience of several people asking me out of the blue whether I was a lawyer or whether I had thought of becoming a lawyer,” he recalled. “I had never intended to go back to school but those conversations got me thinking. Once I looked into NSL, I realized the value proposition was overwhelming. There’s nothing like it in the country.” At the School, he enjoyed his professors in the first year, particularly Judge Marshall Davidson for Torts and Bill Harbison for Contracts. 19

“Will is a credit to the NSL. He is a serious and committed student with excellent writing skills. He will be an excellent lawyer,” Kurtz said.

In addition to the praise from a highly respected judge, Ayers won the “Top Performance Award” for the Civil Trial Practice course taught by Dan Berexa. Ayers hopes to use his law degree to help others. He has volunteered at Room In The Inn, Jobs for Life and The Next Door. He also aspires to be a judicial law clerk. “I like research and writing, and I like the idea of serving the profession,” he said. “It means a great deal to me to be joining a profession with its own customs and codes founded in hundreds of years of tradition.”•



D R O W O TA :



But the technological advance he seemed most excited about was something known as a “website” where the Court’s decisions could be posted and the public could see them.


L E G A C Y,



Without a doubt, one of Justice Drowota’s greatest contributions to the administration of justice was his long-time role as the Court’s goodwill ambassador. Although he never shied away from candid discussions or vigorous debate, he displayed an unfailing ability to remain courteous and respectful no matter the circumstances. He was never arrogant, but he was confident enough to hear and consider opposing views. Because of these traits, he developed excellent working relationships with his colleagues, legislators, executive-branch officials, and with lawyers and bar associations across Tennessee. THE MAN BEHIND THE ROBE Those of us who had the privilege of working with Justice Drowota know well that his contributions to the legal system are just part of this man’s story, for the man behind the robe was every bit as gracious, genuine and classy as what the public saw. Despite his high public office, which he held for decades, he remained humble and his identity was defined more by personal relationships than by what he did for a living. He did not allow his career to become the sum total of who or what he was. As Justice 1.

Drowota got ready to retire in 2006, he said with his usual modesty that he wanted the legal community to remember him simply as a “conscientious, fair-minded judge with good common sense and integrity who treated all with courtesy and respect.” He got his wish, and then some. I personally think it’s telling that when Justice Drowota was sworn in as a new judge, his father’s advice to his son came, not surprisingly, from Micah 6:8, “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” This came to describe not just how Justice Drowota approached his role as a judge, but how he lived his life. He treated everyone fairly and respectfully. He was thoughtful, he was considerate, and he was genuinely interested in the lives of those around him. For decades, Justice Drowota unselfishly shared with many his keen insights about our legal system, which he loved. He taught us how to be excellent lawyers, judges, husbands, fathers, friends, and citizens. And he taught us that integrity, honor, and class really do matter. But as I reflect upon this great man’s life, one lesson is crystal clear to me: every one of us, regardless of role or title, is influencing other people. We would do well to never underestimate the extent, depth, and power of that influence. Therein lies an enduring greatness of Justice Drowota’s legacy.• 1. Judge Marshall L. Davidson, III and Justice Frank F. Drowota, III. (bottom left) 2. Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr., (1979), Justice Drowota, and John T. Rochford, III.








fter 28 years taking care of the building, its students, faculty, and staff, Walter Taylor has retired from Nashville School of Law. Taylor, who worked late and quietly to make sure the building was at its best, was a fixture of the School.

A retirement celebration was held at the School in March, and, because Taylor is a big fan of snacking, attendees brought a variety of snack foods to help fill his cabinet.• 1. Teresa Campbell, Walter Taylor, and retired School librarian Janet Naff at Walter’s retirement party. 2. Walter, Billy Leslie (2017), Larry Williams (1974) 3. Students and Legal Aid Society volunteers pictured with Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. Front row: Stefanie Brake, Pooja Bery, Justice Clark, Bettina LaBoy Reed; Second row: Shakira King and Jeanie Naujeck; Third row: Nathan Rogers, Robert Marks, and Dylan Bruner.




embers of the Legal Aid Society participated in the Access to Justice Externship through the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance. This project involved members reviewing and updating manuals developed as a statewide clinic resource. The volunteers worked in teams of three on manuals for the different divisions of the state: Middle, East, and West. Each volunteer spent more than 20 hours completing the project over the course of several months.• 21







inding alumni of Nashville School of Law who do not recall Luther E. “Pete” Cantrell, Jr. would be a fool’s errand. The 1961 graduate has been a stalwart of the School for 57 years, despite a somewhat rocky start.

Cantrell first enrolled at the YMCA Night Law School in 1960, but due to the unexpected withdrawal of a job offer, he had to sit out a year. He quickly secured employment, re-enrolled, and soon started working in the bookstore for a reduction in tuition. Fifty-seven years later, he is diligently manning the post that now bears his name. Cantrell was born in Nashville in 1933 to Hattie Cassity Cantrell and Luther E. Cantrell, Sr. He began his service to community and nation at the age of 19 after being drafted into the Army in 1953. Fully anticipating being deployed to the Korean War, Cantrell completed his training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Recognizing his kinship with music—particularly the clarinet —the Army redirected him to band school.


With the 32nd Army Band in England, Cantrell quickly earned the moniker, ‘Reb,’ due to his thick, southern brogue. After two years of active duty, he returned to Tennessee to complete the remainder of his six-year reserve obligation and earned his undergraduate degree in finance and economics from the University of Tennessee (UT). While at UT, Cantrell met his lifelong partner-in-crime and wife, Barbara Ann Richardson Cantrell. When asked how long they have been married, he replied, grinning, “forever.” Together they raised three sons, Lee (Luther E. Cantrell III), Tim, and Chris, and have seven grandchildren. During his first year of law school, Cantrell was presented with the opportunity to interview with the notorious Judge Byrd Douglas, whose brother, Lee, was a founding member of the School. Douglas hired Cantrell as his court officer, where he worked until his graduation in 1965. Cantrell credits much of his professional success in the courtroom to his prior work experiences under Douglas.

Cantrell graduated with about 36 others, including close friend and state Senator Joe Haynes and Tennessee Speaker of the House Ed Murray. After passing the bar exam, Cantrell received his first job offer within two weeks – $350 a month working with Thomas O.H. Smith and Associates. Cantrell was initially earning less as an attorney than he had as a court officer. His second day on the job brought a call from Smith, who summoned him to the courthouse. When Cantrell arrived, Smith introduced him to his first client and notified him that his trial would begin in a few moments. Cantrell’s client perjured himself on the witness stand and was sentenced to confinement for failure to pay child support and perjury. Cantrell practiced law for 38 years, with many NSL graduates alongside him. Cantrell once found himself trying a case in which he, his client, two opposing counsel, and the presiding judge all were NSL graduates.

The last firm that Cantrell worked with was Davies, Cantrell, Humphreys, and McCoy. By 2005, he had retired from practicing law in both heart and mind. Cantrell specialized in trial work; civil defense litigation, personal injury, and products liability. With nearly 60 years in the legal field, Cantrell is a treasure trove of valuable knowledge and advice. To first-year law students, Cantrell suggests they always take economic, family, and personal commitments into consideration when planning for their future. As for career advice, he suggests newly minted lawyers find a job that devotes time to the courtroom. Cantrell also emphasizes the importance of finding mentors who can assist with the nuances of the discipline. For the seasoned attorney, Cantrell advises they evaluate their satisfaction with their work. If for some reason they are left unfulfilled, he strongly encourages finding something satisfying – only they can decide if practicing law is right for them.

Cantrell is quick to attribute his many successes and triumphs in life to the opportunities provided by the law school. The School honored Cantrell at the 1996 Recognition Dinner with the School’s annual alumni award. His favorite thing about NSL is that it provides an opportunity for a legal education to those who are unable to attend a full-time law school. “No other law school in the state of Tennessee can provide the flexibility that NSL offers to its students,” he said. Today, Cantrell stays busy with the local Shriners, Masons, and Scottish Rite. Both he and his wife play in bands. Cantrell plays saxophone with the Shrine Band and Nashville Community Concert Band.

He’s often found arriving early to work at the NSL bookstore, reading World War II literature. Cantrell said of his past and legacy, “I want people to look back on me when I’m gone and say nothing better than he was an honest lawyer.”

William Williford, a second-year student at Nashville School of Law, authored this piece about Luther “Pete” Cantrell. 1. Janis Zimmerman, Pete Cantrell, and Chancellor Carol McCoy (retired) 2. Tom Carlton, Rebecca Thomas, Pete Cantrell, and Dean Joseph C. Loser, Jr. 3. Rick Douthit, Elmer Cook (1976), Pete Cantrell, and Lee Cantrell.


Cantrell enjoyed every moment of law practice and was happiest trying cases in court. He relished being prepared for trial to present an argument before the court and delighted in always doing his best for his clients. Presented with the opportunity for a mulligan in life, Cantrell said he would only do one thing differently – he would have started practicing law 10 years earlier. While working at the School’s bookstore over the last 57 years, Cantrell has seen many changes within the institution, including three deans, multiple new facilities, growth in class sizes, and sweeping changes in curriculum.


“There is only one bad thing about NSL. Once people come here to work, they don’t want to leave. It isn’t the great pay that keeps them coming back; it’s the environment and the students,” he said. “We like getting involved with the students, telling jokes, making fun. We become a part of the students, in a sense, and we encourage them to continue what they have started with their legal education.”




Attorney NANCY CORLEY was honored at the 2018 Athena Awards Program as a female leader who sets herself apart through career success, service, and encouragement of women. Corley is an attorney and partner at Corley Henard Lyle Levy & Langford.

SHERIE EDWARDS was named to Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar— Corporate Counsel” for 2018. She is the vice president of corporate and legal for SVMIC in Brentwood.

Athena co-chair Andrea Perry, far left, young professional recipient Emily Passini, Athena recipient Nancy Corley and chair Roxianne Bethune.

1980 MARLENE ESKIND MOSES was named to Nashville Business Journal’s Best of the Bar—Family Law for 2018. She is founding partner of MTR Family Law in Nashville. She also was selected as president-elect of the International Academy of Family Lawyers during their annual meeting in Marlene Eskind Moses Tokyo, Japan.



KATHRYN REED EDGE, an attorney with Butler Snow, was named to The Business Journals’ Influencers list. She was one of only 100 attorneys nationwide and of only three in Nashville to earn the recognition, which spotlights executives who are having an impact on business and legal matters in their communities. Edge represents clients in the financial industry, and has also been an instructor at the School.

Jillian Mastroianni, far left, Sandra Y. Trail (1983), center, and Ashley D. Stearns (2013) officially launched their combined firm in March.

SANDRA Y. TRAIL merged her firm with Ashley D. Stearns to form Trail, Coleman & Stearns, PLLC in Murfreesboro to focus on estate planning, probate, business, and real estate transactions, as well as related tax law. Trail and Stearns are joined by attorney Jillian Mastroianni.

1988 SONYA W. HENDERSON was named a Murfreesboro Magazine 2018 “Women in Business” honoree. She is the principal attorney at Henderson, Raque and Cain, where she practices with her daughter, Whitney H. Raque (2012), and William R. Cain (2014). MARK MCGEE was named executive director of United Way of Bedford County. McGee also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication at Lipscomb University in Nashville.


VICKIE HALL was named assistant superintendent of human resources for Williamson County Schools. Hall had served as the Director of Human Resources for the Tennessee Department of Education.

1998 BARRY TIDWELL was appointed circuit court judge for the 16th Judicial District—Cannon and Rutherford counties —by Gov. Bill Haslam. Judge Tidwell went on to win the election to retain the seat until 2022.

1999 DANNY H. GOODMAN, JR. of Ridgely was recently sworn in as the district attorney general for the 29th Judicial District, which includes Lake and Dyer counties. DAVID R. HOWARD was elected Sumner County juvenile judge. He previously served as juvenile court magistrate.

Mark McGee (1988)

Judge TIMOTHY EASTER was named president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference at the group’s annual meeting in Memphis. The organization is made up of the state’s 186 trial and appellate court judges.

1993 Davidson County General Sessions Judges unanimously elected Judge MELISSA BLACKBURN to serve as presiding judge through Sept. 2019. Judge Blackburn has also been named to Nashville Business Journal’s “Women of Influence” for 2018.


Sherie Edwards (1996)

SCOTT WEISS, Tennessee’s first and only College of Community Association Lawyers Fellow, has merged practices with Ortale Kelley Law Firm in Nashville. Weiss’s practice is dedicated primarily to the representation of homeowner and condominium associations throughout Tennessee.

Scott Weiss (1999)

2000 COLE CARTER has been named general counsel of Nashville-based CoreCivic, where he has been employed since 1992.

DOUG SLOAN was named chief legal officer of the Metropolitan Airport Authority

2004 JONATHAN B. COOPER was named to Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar—Corporate Counsel” for 2018. He is the Director of Law for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville.


Jonathan B. Cooper (2004)

LISA A. TOMLINSON opened a law firm in Lebanon focusing exclusively on family law.



ELIZABETH BETTS HICKMAN is Director of Estate Services/Trust Officer for Pendleton Square Trust Company in Nashville. She provides leadership for the estate team and serves families and their advisors in administering family trust relationships. Elizabeth

RYAN MARTIN has been named assistant city manager of Springfield. He had been Robertson County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Betts Hickman

(2009) KATIE KOBAN BRADDY, Business Development Manager at Frazier & Deeter, has been named to Nashville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”


CHELSEA NICHOLSON has been named parttime night court commissioner in Nashville.

WILL GRIFFITH has been named an Assistant District Attorney in Davidson County.



LOY CARNEY has been named chief of broker services for Village Real Estate in Nashville. A real estate attorney, Carney previously worked at Rudy Title & Escrow.

BEN BENNETT was appointed by the Rutherford County Commission to replace former General Sessions Court Judge Barry Tidwell. He retained the seat in a subsequent election. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed M. WYATT BURK of Shelbyville as Circuit Court Judge for the 17th Judicial District. Burk had practiced with Bobo, Hunt, White & Burk since 2009.

M. Wyatt Burk (2008)

KRISTEN CORN has been named city attorney for Brentwood. She previously served as assistant city attorney in Franklin since 2016. She replaces Roger Horner, a 1990 graduate of the School. C. TUCKER HERNDON, a partner in Burr & Forman, has been named managing partner in the firm’s Nashville office. Herndon is in the firm’s lending practice group. J. MATTHEW JOHNSON has joined EBMS, a healthcare company, as Corporate Counsel and Vice President of Legal.

ASHLEY D. STEARNS merged her firm with Sandra Y. Trail to form Trail, Coleman & Stearns, PLLC in Murfreesboro to focus on estate planning, probate, business, and real estate transactions, as well as related tax law. Trail and Stearns are joined by attorney Jillian Mastroianni.

2014 TARA N. GESS was nominated as a Rising Star in the field of Business Law for 2018 by the American Institute of Legal Advocates. WAYNE SUTTER, who previously worked for the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, has joined the district attorney’s office in Lebanon as an assistant district attorney.


DOUGLAS CHAPMAN won the election for Maury County General Sessions Court judge in August. He had been interim judge since January.

SEANNALYN BRANDMEIR was selected as one of the first two recipients of the Marilyn Neforas Scholarship from the American Bar Association Section of Public Contract Law. The Marilyn Neforas Scholarship encourages promising young women lawyers to be active leaders in the legal profession.


AMY CAVENDER CHO has joined Truxton Trust as associate wealth advisor.

Loy Carney (2010)

CASEY NICHOLSON MILEY transitioned from Baker Donelson to an in-house position with Dollar General Corporation as Director of Real Estate Legal. TAYLOR VANDEVER was selected by the Appraisal Institute to attend Leadership Development Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. Vandever, of Lebanon, is a partner at CRV Group, Inc.

PAUL GRASSMANN earned an LLM in estate planning from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is a vice president at Thompson & Associates in Brentwood.

2016 DAVID BARRY is practicing law with the Chattanooga-based law firm Spicer Rudstrom PLLC.

2012 MOLLIE GASS was selected by the Nashville Bar Foundation for the 2019 Leadership Forum program. She is an attorney with Rudy Winstead Turner in Nashville. CONTINUED ON PAGE 26






N O T E S ,


GENE F. GUERRE joined the family law firm of Rogers, Kamm & Shea as an associate attorney. He was formerly the law clerk for Judge Philip E. Smith. ALEX LEWIS has joined Gene F. Guerre (2016) Miller & Martin as a corporate associate in the law firm’s Nashville office. Lewis will focus his practice on government relations, economic development and corporate matters. CHRIS RYCKMAN was promoted to Chief Operating Officer at Steve Ward & Associates,

Inc. Ryckman previously served as Project Manager, Director of Project Management, and Vice President of Operations at the commercial casework company. CATHERINE ROCHA TREADWELL was featured online in Time on the Hill: Human of Congress for her work with Congress. She is Director of Government Relations for the American Supply Association in Washington, D.C.

2017 HENRY MILLER has joined Rudy Title & Escrow in Nashville as an attorney.

Have professional news to share? Submit your Class Notes to

BOARD & FACULTY UPDATES: Board of Trust chairman AUBREY B. HARWELL, JR. was named to The Business Journals’ Influencers list. He is one of only 100 attorneys nationwide and of only three in Nashville to earn the recognition, which spotlights executives who are having an impact on business and legal matters in their communities. Harwell is co-founder and chief Aubrey B. Harwell, Jr. manager at Neal & Harwell, where his practice focuses on commercial litigation, white collar criminal defense and crisis management. Harwell joined the Board of Trust in 1993 and has served as chairman since 2016. DAN BEREXA was named to Nashville Business Journal’s Best of the Bar—Labor & Employment Law for 2018. He has been a professor at the School since 2012. He a partner at Cornelius & Collins in Nashville, where he is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Judge MARSHALL L. DAVIDSON, III wrote “Oral Argument: Transformation, Troubles, and Trends,” 5 Belmont Law Review 203 (2018). Judge Davidson also was named a fellow with the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. He has taught at the School since 1992.

RAMONA DESALVO has been elected to the position of Grand Division Governor-Middle District for the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) for a one-year term. She continues to serve on the TBA’s CLE Committee and Operations Committee. DeSalvo also serves on the Nashville Bar’s Diversity Committee and Diversity Summit Sub-Committee. She has taught at the School since 2011. HARLAN DODSON was named to Nashville Business Journal’s Best of the Bar—Estate Planning for 2018. He has been a professor at the School since 1975 and is a partner in Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella. Judge MARK FISHBURN is developing a fourhour CLE: Fundamentals of Criminal Trial Practice. It’s designed for less-experienced attorneys and is offered nationally by LawPracticeCLE. He has taught at the School since 2013. DAVID L. HUDSON, JR. wrote a book entitled Equal Protection: Documents Decoded (ABC-CLIO, 2018). It closely examines the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and shows how legal interpretations of it have had a profound impact on American life as we know it. In addition to her administrative duties, communications and engagement director MICHELE WOJCIECHOWSKI is teaching Legal Skills & Values I to first-year students.


NSL AWARDS NEARLY $75,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2017-18 SCHOOL YEAR George Albright Ms. Christi Holt Ms. Mary Scharlott Todd J. Campbell/ Middle District Court Ms. Claire Cobb Mr. Wesley Hall Ms. Jardyn Morgan Mr. Cody W. Schmidt Ms. Randi Ward Luther E. Cantrell, Jr. Mr. Nathan Rogers Charlotte & Tom Cone Mr. Andrew Bellm Ms. Kristy Burney Ms. Tessa Courtney Mr. Scott Daniel Mr. Jamie Davis Mr. Wayne Edwards Ms. Sheral Gambrell Mr. Elliott Graves Mr. Adam Jefferson Mr. Russell Lockard Ms. Dana Looper Mr. David Oldham Mr. George Thompson Ms. Beth Woodard

East Tennessee Foundation, Tennessee Judicial Conference Ms. Mary Scharlott— J.S. “Steve” Daniel/Suzanne G. Keith Scholarship Ms. Heather Meshell— Chancellor Irvin Kilcrease Scholarship Jo Ann Fenters Ms. Jocelyn Bates Judge Charles Gilbert Mr. John Romero Paul Holbrook Ms. Johnika Everhart Mr. Alex Starr Stephen & Elizabeth Hurd Ms. Lauren Erb J. G. Lackey, Jr. Mr. Will Ayers Dean Joe C. Loser, Jr. Ms. Kaylee Houston

Scottish Rite Ms. Heather Meshell Tulley Award Ms. Carla Grebert Trustee & Faculty Scholarship Mr. David Aguilera Ms. Tammy Anderson Ms. Stephanie Brake Mr. Dylan Bruner Mr. Johnathan Carroll Mr. Drew Clements Ms. Kayla Costley

Christopher Hugan has joined the faculty as a professor of Legal Skills & Values II, a third-year class. Hugan is a 2003 graduate of the School and holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky. He owns Hugan Law in Nashville.•

Ms. Galen Gray Ms. Lydia Gregory Ms. Melissa Grimes Mr. William Grones Ms. Charlie Guffey Ms. Cindy Harris Mr. Peter Harris Mr. Heath Harwell Mr. Brian Horowitz

Patrick Frogge

Ms. Tessa Lawson Ms. Holly Long Ms. Michelle Marshall Mr. Ryan Miller

Ms. Mirna Tunjic

Ms. Jardyn Morgan

Mr. Lamar Moore Mr. Jason Nabors

John T. Rochford, Jr.

Ms. Liz Newell

Ms. Olivia Al-Sadi

Ms. Jessica Rigsby

John B. Downey, Jr.

Ms. Jennifer Foster

Ms. Kari Roberts

Ms. Julie Alley

Ms. Summer Jackson

Ms. Courtnei Secrest

Mr. Anthony Cain

Mr. John Jeremias

Ms. Pennye Sisk

Ms. Ashley Fine

Ms. Stephanie Jordan

Ms. Elizabeth Spurbeck

Mr. Wesley Holder

Ms. Melinda Kirkham

Mr. Donald Turner

Mr. Ross Matuszak

Mr. Matthew Mezzatesta

Ms. Randi Ward

Ms. Bettina Reed

Mr. Shay Watson

Mr. Mark Atchison

Patrick Frogge has joined the faculty as a professor of Crimes and Constitutional Criminal Law & Procedure, classes that are team-taught with Gen. Glenn Funk. Frogge is executive director of the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State University and a J.D. from Fordham University, 1999. Frogge has taught CLE at the School, and has long been a substitute teacher here.

Mr. Patrick George

Chief Justice Charles O’Brien

W. P. Cooper

Frogge, Hugan Join Faculty

Christopher Hugan

Ms. Bethany Robinson Ms. Poppy Steele Ms. Kelli Woodward


4013 Armory Oaks Drive Nashville, TN 37204 O: 615.256.3684 F: 615.244.2383

Dates to Remember.. CLE @ NSL: October 16 – Legal Writing from a Songwriter’s Perspective with Ryder Lee November 20 – View from the Bench: Top 10 Rules of Evidence with Judge Steve Dozier December 18 – Ethical Duty to Protect Confidential Information in the Digital Age with Matt Sweeney, Bill Ramsey, and Jordan McQuown (dual CLE)

May 25, 2019 Class of 2019 Graduation:

June 7, 2019 2019 Recognition Dinner

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.