The Torch Spring 2023

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NSL on the Hill

How Nashville School of Law Alumni


Run Our State Government

NSL on the Hill

NSL Welcomes the Class of 2026


Get to Know: NSL 1L Jeri “Keneath”


Get to Know: NSL 4L Qianlu “Lily” Ying

Rigorous Writing Winners

Scholarship News


Meet: Wills Clinic Professor

Christian Cahill

Meet: Juvenile Clinic Professor

Evan Baddour

Honoring Judge Philip E. Smith

In Memoriam

Faculty Notes


Bar Exam Success List

Where Are They Now: Annette Cherry ‘22

Where Are They Now: Leigh Wilburn ‘12

Class Notes


William C. Koch, Jr.


Kristin Smart


Nancy Humphrey


Stephanie Williams


Bob Delevante




NSL Alumni and Students: Working for All Tennesseans

The people of Tennessee have entrusted their peace and prosperity to those who serve in the three branches of Tennessee’s government – the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. Our state constitution, once described by Thomas Jefferson as the “least imperfect and most republican of the state constitutions,” defines the role of each branch and admonishes each branch to respect the powers and prerogatives of the other branches.

All legislative power in Tennessee is vested in the General Assembly. Tennesseans elect the members of the General Assembly and expect them to act as the eyes, the ears, and the voice of the people. We expect our legislators to represent their constituents, to deliberate and enact legislation that advances the common good, to adopt a state budget and appropriate funds, and to oversee the operation of state government. Even though the legislative process can become messy and rancorous, we expect our legislators to carry out their responsibilities with a proper level of compromise and consensus, always keeping in mind that their actions affect all Tennesseans.

Pursuing the common good is a daunting task in today’s fast-moving and multifaceted world. Today’s legislators receive support from competent, professional staff members and other government officials. Their ability to make informed and well-considered decisions is also enhanced by the advocacy of skilled professionals representing the interests of individuals and organizations.

Graduates of the Nashville School of Law have played significant roles in the legislative process for more than a century. This issue of The Torch celebrates our current graduates and students who are playing important roles in the legislative process. One of our graduates is a state senator. Four are members of the House of Representatives. Many more of our graduates and students staff individual legislators or committees. Still, other graduates and students advocate on behalf of persons, organizations, or causes. Each of these persons, in their own unique way, is using her or his NSL legal education to protect and promote the interests of Tennesseans. My hat is off to them.

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NSL on the Hill

Graduates of the Nashville School of Law have played pivotal roles on Capitol Hill for more than 100 years.

Banks Turner, who cast the deciding vote to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, graduated from our school in 1928. James H. “Mr. Jim” Cummings, a 1922 graduate, attended our school while working in the State Comptroller’s Office. He went on to serve in the General Assembly for 40 years, including four years as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He also served as Tennessee’s Secretary of State for four years.

Albert Gore Sr. graduated from our school in 1936 and then served as Commissioner of the Department of Labor before embarking on his distinguished career in the Congress and the United States Senate. In 1967, Bess Blake, a 1940 graduate, was the Tennessee Department of Public Welfare Deputy Commissioner.

In more recent times, Harlan Mathews attended our school while serving as Tennessee’s Commissioner of Finance and Administration. He earned his law degree in 1962, and he was elected State Treasurer in 1974. Mathews also served for six years as Deputy to Governor Ned McWherter before being appointed to serve in the United States Senate. Ed Murray, a 1965 graduate, served in the House of Representatives for 20 years, including four years as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The NSL alumnus with the longest career in our General Assembly was Tennessee State Sen. Joe M. Haynes from the 20th district. Haynes, who graduated in 1965, served 28 years in public service, from 1984 to 2012.

Author’s Note - Due to the volume of people affiliated with NSL who work with our state legislators, we may have unintentionally omitted a few names, for that we apologize.

How Nashville School of Law Alumni and Students Help Run Our State Government

Rep. William Slater, Rep. Johnny Garrett, Sen. Sara Kyle, Rep. Bo Mitchell, Rep. Bill Beck

Today, out of 132 state legislators in the 113th General Assembly, 33 members in the Senate, and 99 members in the House, there are five NSL graduates — more alumni than any other state law school — who serve our state.

•Sen. Sara Kyle ’87, Senate District 30

•Rep. Bill Beck ’89, House District 51

•Rep. Johnny Garrett ’06, House District 45

•Rep. Bo Mitchell ’03, House District 50

•Rep. William Slater ’10, House District 35

The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with the five NSL graduates:

What laws would you like to see implemented or amended in our state?

Sen. Kyle – “We have to do more for labor, because they are the ones that built these communities. We can never do enough for the teachers who raised our children to be good citizens. We must always fight to end discrimination and injustices in all forms.”

Rep. Slater – “The most significant legislation for me this year will be in the foster

care to adoption arena. I am carrying four separate bills that are part of a 15-bill package to improve adoption policies in Tennessee. This is a collaborative effort by members from both houses. I am passionate about improving adoption law for two reasons. First, I am pro-life. Second, our family has benefited from the adoption process.”

Rep. Mitchell – “I would like to repeal the voucher law. It will do untold harm to public education and with the nefarious way it passed the House, it should be repealed just on a purely ethical basis.”

Is there a bill you’ve introduced that holds special meaning for you?

Rep. Garrett – “My first year, I carried legislation that provided stepparent rights to visitation for kids whose biological parents were no longer involved in their lives. This was no easy legislation, but we passed it, and it is now law. This was a great achievement for Tennessee families.”

Rep. Beck – “In my legislative career, I have had an opportunity to move many bills that make people’s lives better. One that I am very proud of concerned homeless students that could not get their birth certificates due to not having a parent or legal guardian. My bill allowed them to obtain their birth certificate for the purpose of driver’s license and applying to college and student loans/ scholarship applications.”

How has our state government changed?

Rep. Mitchell – “Our state government has become much more focused on divisive issues that do not help all Tennesseans; it has slanted toward politics over policy.”

Rep. Garrett – “Our state has become more politically conservative as we continue to make Tennessee an environment where families can grow their business and enjoy their families free from government interference. Success starts with great communities and, as a state representative, it’s my goal to keep our communities safe and watch our families thrive.”

How do you use your J.D. degree as a state legislator?

Rep. Beck – “My J.D. degree and being a trial lawyer has been an amazing tool in helping to move legislation. First, it gives me the ability to present my case (bill) to various committees and on the House floor in a very effective manner. Second, it gives me the ability to think through the legislation that I am filing to make sure that it is consistent for the TCA. Finally, I’d like to say that it is much like trying a case except my jury pool is very shallow.”

Sen. Kyle – “They say that law school changes the way you think, analyze, and look at things. It’s true. I believe my J.D. degree has helped me and shaped the way I write laws. Law school gave me the foundation and necessary tools not only to be an effective law writer, but an advocate as well. It sounds simple, but just like when you are preparing for a class or a trial, when you are writing a new law, you make sure that you study the issue and know the answer to every question that might come up. Furthermore, the more you do this, the more patterns you see in what makes good written legislation or vaguely worded laws.”

Rep. Slater – “My legal education from NSL is already paying dividends in the legislature. There are many complex issues, and having a background in law helps me sort them out quickly.”

Why did you want to become a state legislator?

Rep. Mitchell – “I know it sounds simplistic, but I ran to help people, whether that is assisting in overcoming bureaucratic obstacles or during the heights of the pandemic ensuring unemployment benefits are received.”

Rep. Garrett – “I always wanted to serve my community in some fashion. Prior to my campaign, I served on many nonprofit organizations. When the opportunity came up and the timing was right, I decided to place my name on the ballot. I’ve enjoyed

Deputy Commissioner of Public Welfare Bess Blake ‘40 Rep. Bill Beck, Rep. William Slater, Rep. Johnny Garrett and Rep. Bo Mitchell remember good times at NSL.

every second of serving my community in the state house.”

Throughout the years, NSL students have worked on the hill while earning their law degree. Currently, we have eight students working alongside state legislators. They include fourth-year students: Kati Coats, policy and legislative liaison for the TN District Attorney’s General Conference; Heather Asbell, legislative administrative assistant for the Tennessee General Assembly in the Office of Legal Services; and Zack Huff, legislative assistant to a subcommittee chairman at the General Assembly. NSL third-year students who work at the State Capitol are Jordan Long, director of government relations for the Beacon Center of Tennessee and Beacon Impact, and Rosie Anderson, director of operations for Speaker Cameron Sexton in the Tennessee House of Representatives. And new to NSL, these three, first-year students also work alongside our state legislators: Marissa King, Executive Legislative Analyst to Rep. Torrey Harris and Liaison to TN Black Caucus of Legislators; Makayla Martin, Executive Assistant to Rep. Yusuf Hakeem; and Harris King, VUMC Government Affairs.

(Questions were posed to 3Ls and 4Ls due to being further along in their law school education.)

How has your NSL education helped you in your current role?

bills will affect the almost 7 million people that live in Tennessee.”

Coats – “My legal education has provided me with the analytical skills and ability to digest complicated bills while also providing me with mentors and professors that I felt comfortable enough to ask for help with issues that were beyond my ability to understand. Our very own Dean Koch helped me with some complicated constitutional law questions for one of our legislative committees that studied the scope of the executive powers during a state of emergency. When we got assigned to that committee, I was currently taking constitutional law with Dean Koch, and he came and testified on some of the committee findings. This was in response to COVID shutting down the economy and the actions of the executive branch in response, definitely one of the more interesting real life constitutional law issues I have ever dealt with. Dean Koch was right there to help explain! No other law school can say that!”

How has your current position in state government helped you as a law student?

Asbell – “Through my work, I have gained invaluable knowledge such as writing, researching, and having a working understanding of the legislative process and how the government operates as a whole, which has aided me through all of my years at NSL.”

Anderson – “My work experience has helped me during my time at NSL. A deeper understanding of how our laws are drafted and passed is tremendously helpful in enabling me to effectively study and understand assigned projects involving case law and statutes. Being an integral part of the legislative process helps fit the pieces of the process together, so it is easier for me to grasp where they originated.”

How has our state government changed since you started your position?

Long – “I use the legal education I receive from Nashville School of Law every day. Every year, more than 1,500 bills are filed in the legislature, and it’s my responsibility to make sure that we track those that are within our wheelhouse, and that means I have to read and understand the proposed changes to the law. Beacon Impact also brings its own legislative package every year, and I use my legal education to explain how our

Huff – “I started at the legislature in 2015. There has definitely been a decrease in civility in the legislative process. While most legislators interact in a corrigible manner with one another, the interaction with the general public has become more contentious.”

Anderson – “I’ve seen state government change in many ways. In Tennessee, it’s more common for our members to work across

Left to Right, front row: Marissa King ’26, Kati Coats ‘23. Middle Row: Heather Asbell ’23, Rosie Anderson ’24, Makayla Martin ’26. Back Row: Zack Huff ’23. Not pictured: Harris King ’26. Jordan Long ‘24 (NSL On The Hill continued on following page.)

party lines and find common ground on legislative initiatives than in D.C. I’ve witnessed this, even during the contentious times we’ve all recently experienced as a nation. I’ve also experienced House Floor sessions that sometimes last late into the night or even the early morning hours, as well as special sessions and the passage of our No. 1 constitutional duty each year — a balanced budget. Additionally, I’ve seen the turbulent times and unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for Tennessee; however, we have all worked together to address these challenges, and I believe Tennessee is even stronger than before the pandemic.”

Coats – “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment claims were so overwhelming we had hundreds coming in, and although it took some time, the Department of Labor and other agencies worked together to overcome issues no one could have been prepared for. History was made while I was a law student and Senate staffer. Sometimes government gets a bad rap, but I saw my boss and other senators and the governor work long hours to find a solution for families throughout Tennessee. I guess government did change; society as we knew it changed.”

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Huff – “There is probably no other job in the state where you have so much access to so many experts in their field. This position allows me the opportunity to meet and rou-

tinely foster these relationships to allow me to gain knowledge quickly and at a high level.”

Asbell – “I enjoy being part of an amazing team that serves the Tennessee General Assembly by writing and preparing legislation. It is surreal to see legislation that you have helped with from the beginning being discussed in committee, potentially becoming law.”

Long – “We have a wall at our office full of pictures of people that we call our “heroes.” These are the people who spoke up about how their lives were being affected negatively by our government. We represent those individuals and families at the legislature and in court to fight back against the government. After the dust has settled, when one of our heroes tells their story of how Beacon has helped them, it reminds me that the work we do matters.”

Each calendar year, the General Assembly meets for the first time on the second Tuesday in January. Legislative sessions typically last from mid-January through late April or May.

Looking to the future, NSL Alumna Sen. Sara Kyle hopes more NSL students and alumni become involved in the political process.

“I want everyone to know that while you don’t need to be a legislator to make a difference in your community, we need more individuals to participate in our political sphere. The very essence of our profession as attorneys calls upon us to advocate for others. Our fabric of society works better when we all participate in the political process.”

NSL Alumni: How do You Work with Our State Legislature?

“As an association CEO, I have organized and executed several government relations campaigns on the hill, held industry positions, defended against harmful bills, and have drafted and passed several bills advocating for family-owned bottlers at the state legislature. It’s an honor to work with the elected officials at the TN State Legislature.”

“As a lobbyist, I represent a broad range of clients from technology, infrastructure, professional trade organizations, and major corporations as well as the nonprofit community. I advocate for less bureaucracy and help clients have an efficient working relationship with state government.”

“My main role is to advise the Senate Democratic Leader and members of our caucus on current laws, proposals, and to develop strategies. My

(NSL On The
Hill continued from previous page.)
Marissa King ’26 and Heather Asbell ’23 visit with Fellow NSL classmates in the Legislative Library.

job requires researching, writing, and analyzing proposals for all areas of the law and being able to communicate them in a fast-paced environment, just like preparing for class or the bar.”

“I get to represent hard-working people and organizations that want to improve their local communities by providing critical infrastructure and helping their area grow and prosper. They do amazing things every day and work in some of the worst conditions to get the lights back on for their neighbors, and I’m proud to work on their behalf.”

defeat legislation that could be harmful to Tennessee citizens. In addition, we amend bills which could inadvertently impact our industry. We work diligently with legislators to make sure alcohol distribution has moderation, regulation, and control.”

Chastity Mitchell ’02

National VP, Advocacy & Government Relations at Boys & Girls Clubs of America

(and the first in the organization’s 60-year history to be appointed by the governor, made possible by a law enacted under Gov. Bill Haslam in 2012) “There is a great deal to do, and much more to do in evolving our laws to protect and prepare for the aging population. Tennessee has 1.7 million citizens age 60 and older. The U.S. Census projects that for the first time in the history of the U.S., adults over 65 will surpass citizens 18 and under. TCAD is one of two standalone commissions in the entire U.S., which is why we are reviewing other states in order to learn and understand the best way ahead for Tennessee.”

“I really enjoy lobbying for policy that makes an impact on Tennesseans, especially younger Tennesseans who will hopefully be positively impacted by those policies for years to come. I think there should be a total ban of indoor smoking in public areas. I worked for Gov. Bredesen as his Policy Advisor and lead lobbyist during the time he proposed, and the General Assembly approved, the Tennessee Non-Smokers Protection Act of 2007. There are still a few exceptions to this law that allow smoking in 21-and-up venues that should be eliminated to protect the health of nonsmokers.”

“Early in my career I made connections to begin working within the TN General Assembly while attending NSL which kickstarted my work in Government Relations, Lobbying and Advocacy. While I don’t currently practice, I feel like I use my degree from NSL daily either in policy analysis or drafting, training, or policy strategy development.”

Additional NSL Alumni Who Work in State Government:

Liz Alvey ’04

Legislative Counsel to Gov. Bill Lee

Catie Lane Bailey ’12

Government Relations Attorney, Partner at Holland & Knight

Matt Barnes ’11

Assistant Bureau Chief/Legislative and Communications, TN Dept. of Transportation

Alex King ’16

Deputy Assistant Commissioner, TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Division of Administrative and Regulatory Services

Alex Lewis ’16

Assistant Commissioner for External Affairs, TN Department of Commerce & Insurance

Scott Sloan ’07

General Counsel, TN Higher Education Commission

Stephen Smith ’07 Director of TennCare

“I take all constituent calls, write talking points on my member’s legislation, research legislation, maintain the member’s schedule, take part in bill review to help inform caucus members of the bills coming before them in committee and organize and file all of my members’ bills, amendments, and resolutions.”

Ryan Haynes ’14

Executive Director of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Assoc. of TN

“Hundreds of pieces of legislation get introduced every year that pertain to how alcohol is sold in Tennessee. I monitor this legislation and work with House and Senate members to pass or

Todd Staley ’08

Legislative Liaison/ Asst. General Counsel, TN Department of Financial Institutions

John E. Williams ’16

Asst. Vice Chancellor for Government Relations, TN Board of Regents

James Dunn ’12 Executive Director, TN Commission on Aging and Disability Logan Elliott ’20 Executive Assistant to Minority Whip Jason Powell Jeremy Elrod ‘10 Director of Government Relations for TN Municipal Electric Power Association Robert Gowan ’97 Managing Partner (Attorney and contract lobbyist) at Millsaps Gowan Government Relations

NSL Welcomes the Class of 2026

Atotal of 110 new students filled the auditorium at Nashville School of Law in July 2022, for new student orientation. Murfreesboro high school history teacher Nancy Baxley was one of them. Teaching for more than two decades, she knows firstday jitters are normal. However, it has been awhile since she was the new student.

“I had a bit of anxiety and thought, I am not sure if I can do all this. Then I talked myself down and thought, it is only four classes, two days a week; four classes, two days a week,” said Baxley.

While she continues to teach high school during the day, she will attend evening classes at NSL.

“It was encouraging to see other folks my age at orientation. I am still unsure about what I am going to do with my law degree, but I am excited for the possibilities,” said Baxley.

The two-day orientation at NSL was filled with lectures, panel discussions and informative sessions that gave students an idea of what they can expect during their four years of law school.

“Our orientation program is designed to welcome our new students and to emphasize the significance of their decision to earn a law degree. They are beginning the process of transforming themselves into legal professionals who will serve their clients and communities and advance the Rule of Law,” said Dean William C. Koch.

The students heard from NSL faculty members Chuck Shonholtz, Professor of Advanced

Legal Studies; Dr. Thorunn McCoy, NSL Writing Professional; and David Hudson Jr., former Professor of Bar Exam Workshop. The instructors not only offered advice on how to succeed in law school, but they also started teaching some of the curriculum with PowerPoint presentations included, enticing students to request a copy.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sarah Campbell administered the Oath of Professionalism, a requirement of all new NSL students.

“When attorneys join the Tennessee Bar, they take an oath to conduct themselves with honesty, fairness, integrity, and civility. Nashville School of Law serves its students well by asking them to take a similar oath as incoming 1Ls. Students who practice professionalism during their legal training will no doubt be better prepared to, as the oath puts it, “embrace the responsibilities” that accompany the privilege of joining our noble profession,” Campbell said.

Another panel, comprised of current NSL students, led by 4L student Mitzi Dorris, provided helpful suggestions like creating outlines, recording lectures, and joining a study group.

“I enjoyed the student panel. No one else in my family has been to law school,” said Jasmine Patton, a Nashville law office manager. “So, to hear from current students about what they’ve

experienced was very valuable. I spent my evening looking up different devices and things they talked about that we will need for class,” she said.

Patton, who is a Tennessee State University graduate, was the first student to show up for this year’s orientation and was eager to begin her first year at NSL.

“When I left orientation, I thought, this is where I need to be,” she said. “The organizational skills and time management a student needs made me think, I can absolutely do this.”

NSL Librarian Sadie Guzik ’24, second from the right, helps new students find their signed copies of the Oath of Professionalism.
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sarah Campbell administers the Oath of Professionalism.

From a young age, Jeri “Keneath” Galyon was always enthusiastic and curious. She spent a good amount of time at her dad’s law firm, so her introduction to statutes and amendments came early in life.

Galyon and Associates, in Sevierville, Tennessee, just 30 miles south of Knoxville, was founded in 1969 by her dad, Jerry Kenneth Galyon.

Jerry Galyon started out as a family law attorney, and within a few years he ended up becoming a criminal defense lawyer. After he passed away in 2011, Galyon and Associates eventually closed its doors, but the family still owns the building.

Sharing her dad’s initials, Keneath Galyon has many of his personalized office items like a notebook, pen case and business card holder with the letters “JKG.” She also still has the firm’s sign, “Galyon and Associates,” which welcomed clients at the front door.

When Galyon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from East Tennessee State University

Get to Know: NSL 1L Jeri “Keneath” Galyon

with a double major in English and political science, she attended another law school close to home.

“I was going five days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It was just go, go, go all the time. It was so much pressure. Even if you dropped down to part time, it was still six or seven classes. It was a lot,” said Galyon.

She eventually dropped out and second-guessed her decision to attend law school. It was her mom, Patricia, who encouraged her not to give up. In fact, when Galyon applied and was then accepted to Nashville School of Law, her mom decided to ride with her as she made the more than 200-mile trip, three and a half hours one way with a time change, to and from NSL.

“My mom usually comes with me when I come the day before an exam, and we will go out to a good dinner and then I study at night while she reads,” said Galyon. “Sometimes she helps me. She says she should get an honorary J.D. degree because she listens to the lectures and reads the work too.”

Starting NSL in August 2022 as a first-year law student, Galyon quickly felt at ease. “People know my name here, almost all my professors know how far I drive to get here, and they are all understanding of my circumstances,” said Galyon. “Everyone here seems so happy and willing to help each other.”

Interested in criminal law, Galyon appreciates the fact that many of her professors walk out of a courtroom from their workday and into the NSL classroom to teach at night.

“I have General Funk for Legal Skills and Values, and I like his writing style more than the book. He has something he calls the “Funk Treatment,” where he says you take the facts from

this case, the facts from this one, and the rule from this one, and you will apply it. The information we read from our textbook makes more sense because he is sharing how it is used every day,” she said.

“Ms. Galyon is a dedicated student. I expect her to become an excellent attorney,” said Funk, professor of Legal Skills and Values I. “If she really wants to be a top criminal defense attorney, my advice would be for her to work in a district attorney’s office for a few years after graduation.

“Given her diligence, I hope she chooses to continue learning through some public service prior to entering private practice. The criminal justice system works best when lawyers humanize everyone who comes into the courthouse – victims and defendants alike.”

Galyon admits the set of rules that criminal defense lawyers must follow to help people is appealing. She enjoys learning about the law, and sometimes does more work than assigned.

“News stories are not always favorable to someone who has been arrested. That always makes me think, I need the whole picture. Just because you are arrested does not mean that you did the crime or that you should have been arrested,” said Galyon.

“I am always curious. I even read the additional information from the footnotes in class.”

For now, Galyon plans on moving back home to Sevierville to reopen her dad’s firm after she graduates from NSL. She will hang the “Galyon and Associates” sign once again, which she hopes will greet her future clients at the firm’s front door.

Keneath Galyon ’26 with her parents, Patricia Ann Galyon and Jerry Kenneth Galyon.


Get to Know: NSL 4L Qianlu “Lily” Ying

helping immigrants better understand the legal system of the U.S. and become assimilated into American society, Ying said, adding that in the past year she has worked with other Chinese American attorneys to give public online lectures on American political and legal topics.

Now in her final year of law school, Ying said she hasn’t settled on a particular area of practice and is keeping an open mind about where her legal career will take her. But she’s particularly interested in employment, administrative, constitutional, and criminal law at this point.

Lily Ying’s dream job has always been teaching philosophy. But life has a way of changing your dreams and steering you to a career you didn’t even know you wanted.

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Ying (born Qianlu Ying) received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from Fudan University in Shanghai. Ying, who will graduate from Nashville School of Law in May, had a one-year visiting scholarship offered by the John Templeton Foundation and studied in the philosophy department at Baylor University, an experience that led her to pursue a PhD in the United States.

She met Wei Huang when they were graduate students in Shanghai, and they married in 2010. They came to the United States in 2012 when she received a full scholarship to enroll in the PhD program in political philosophy at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She received her degree in 2018. She and Huang

have two children, 10 and 6 years old. In 2018, she came to Nashville to do paralegal work with the Wang Law Group, PLLC. The firm, a general practice involving civil litigation, immigration, criminal and family law, personal injury, business litigation, and corporate compliances, is led by NSL Alumna Vivien Wang ’10.

A necessary condition of Ying’s job at Wang Law Group was enrolling in NSL. “It’s an arranged marriage,” Ying said. “But I quickly fell in love with NSL, especially because of the study of constitutional law. It related to my political philosophy study, and I still think it’s kind of a continuance of my philosophy education. That helps me a lot.”

Ying said her job at Wang Law Group is a great fit for her. “Vivien is a first-generation Chinese American too, and her work is mainly to serve the legal and cultural needs of immigrants in the Nashville area,” she said. An important part of the firm’s services is

“There’s a Chinese saying, ‘put your feet on the watermelon rind, slide yourself to wherever it slides,’” she said. “I’m following my heart and doing what I like. I didn’t choose law myself, but I’m passionate about it — the pursuit of knowledge and justice. I like serving the working class, serving people who have legal needs. It suits me well.”

Her long-term goal is to develop better legal skills and enrich her understanding of the U.S. legal system. And she wants to do more comparative legal research on different legal institutions — in China, Japan, Europe, and the U.S., for example. “The firm is very dynamic, and I’m still learning. A lot of the work is very challenging,” she said.

Ying said that attending NSL and getting to know her classmates has been life changing for her. “They come from all kinds of jobs, and they’re all very different from me. There are different classes and different cultural groups. It’s been really eye opening. I always tell my American friends that I didn’t have culture shock in the first six years I was here, the culture shock really happened at NSL. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know real American people.”

Lily Ying visits with classmate Erica Paschall.

NSL Welcomes New Rigorous Writing Coordinator and Names Winners for Excellence in RWE

Lisa Helton, an attorney with Sherrard, Roe, Voigt, Harbison law firm in Nashville, has been named the new Rigorous Writing Coordinator for Nashville School of Law.

The Rigorous Writing Exercise (RWE) was introduced in 2017 and has been led by former NSL Legal Skills & Values Instructor Candi Henry. It is a required program for all third-year students to graduate law school.

Tennessee attorneys and judges are volunteer mentors, helping students select a legal topic for the 15- to 20-page research paper.

“I’m really excited to connect with students who are at the beginning of their legal careers. It is an amazing experience to explore this profession, and I am honored to assist my students with that journey,” said Helton.

“As a litigator I spend a significant amount of time drafting briefs, so I believe this writing experience will help my Rigorous Writing Exercise students as they work on their in-depth writing project.”

Some of Helton’s practice areas include estate and trust litigation, appellate practice, landlord/ tenant law, and IRS tax litigation.

Helton graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she was admitted to the College Scholars program and deemed a top graduate in the College of Arts and Sciences: Social Sciences. In 2004, she received a J.D., magna cum laude, with a concentration in advocacy and dispute resolution, from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

The Nashville School of Law thanks Professor Candi Henry for her time and dedication to this program. Henry helped create a well-orga-

nized, successful RWE program during the past five years.

“I genuinely looked forward to reading every single one of the final projects submitted, and I always learned something—either about an area of law I was not familiar with or a way that a segment of the court system works,” said Henry. “It is inspiring to see how NSL students are positioning themselves to go out into the world and use their practices to address challenges in the legal system.”

Henry is the Chief Legal Counsel for the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC). The regional government entity, which includes 13 Tennessee counties, helps administer state and federal funds for highways, aging and disability assistance, and economic and community development programs.

The Rigorous Writing Exercise is a project all Nashville School of Law students embark on as a requirement of graduation. Working with a volunteer mentor from the legal community, students research and write a 15- to 20-page paper on the topic of their choice.

Our 2021-2022 Mentor of the Year award recipient is Tamika Parker ’15. The honor is conferred in recognition of a mentor’s exceptional service to the Rigorous Writing Exercise Program.

Parker obtained her undergraduate degree in engineering from Drexel University and her master’s degree in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has also undertaken a series of studies on the intersection of neuroscience and theology, and she applies all her knowledge and skills to help her clients. Parker has a private law practice in the Nashville area.

Each year, the students’ submissions are evaluated by a panel of legal writing experts, who determine finalists and award winners. The award is named for Robert L. Ballow, Esq., who has endowed the award with a generous contribution that allows for a cash award to the top three finalists annually. Ballow graduated from the School in 1963.

These Nashville School of Law students have been recognized for their writing achievement in the annual Robert Ballow Excellence in Writing Awards – a result of their performance in the Rigorous Writing Exercise.

Listed below are NSL student winners and their mentors.

2022 Winners / Mentors:

1st Place: Allison Wilson / Krisann Hodges

2nd Place (tie): Daimon Duggar /Eddie Herbert

2nd Place (tie): Amber Schlatter / Candi Henry

The Finalists: Mitzi Dorris, Jenna Huff, Shakira King, Joseph Swafford, Lily Ying

Sign up to be a mentor at

Rigorous Writing Coordinator Lisa Helton
NSL Rigorous Writing Exercise Finalists and Mentors 2022-2023
Former Rigorous Writing Coordinator Candi Henry

Luther E. Cantrell, Jr.

Heather Asbell

Cannon Cameron

Jenna Huff

Justice Cornelia Clark’s Access to Justice Memorial (Pro Bono)

Charlena Fuqua

Ben Mecklenborg

Allison Wilson

Class of 1974

Leanne Bender

Lavinia Fernandez

Class of 2022

Jonathan Braden

Jennifer Burch

Dakota Vermillion

Charlotte & Tom Cone

Megan Allen

Gerardo Alvarez

Katie Coats

Tyler Daniels

Jennifer Hudson

Amber King

Erica Paschall

Tyler Stanfield

Adam Tune

Scholarship News 2022-2023

W. P. Cooper

Brian Hurst

Jordan Long

East Tennessee Foundation, Tennessee Judicial Conference - J.S. “Steve” Daniel / Suzanne

G. Keith Scholarship –

Amy Parker

- Chancellor Irvin Kilcrease

Scholarship –

Dakota Vermillion

-Justice Adolpho A. Birch –

Matthew Thomas

Jo Ann Fenters

Savannah Reynolds

Judge Charles Gilbert

Drew Vernon

Paul Holbrook

Emily Bain

Chris Carpenter

IIse Chavez

Victoria Davis

Zoey Hamm

Samuel Hayes

Andrew Jensen

Anna Laws

Morgan Phelps

Leah Pybas

Will Spellings

Dustyn Stevens

Ryan Stout

Irvin Kilcrease

Kianna Cooper

James Finger

Amanda Harrington Sargent

Maretha Nevils

J. G. Lackey, Jr.

Stephanie Snow

Zaia Thombre

Sharon Lee Community Involvement

Nikkie Kiene

Kelley Moody

Chief Justice Charles


Doug Smith

Phyllis O’Connor

Erica Augustin

Kristina Bagwell

Robin Bain

Kendall Carter

Patricia Hartman

Chassity Martin

Ali Sovine

Marti Stuart

Lauren Thomas

Addie Toy

Carol & John Rochford

Kathleen Aldrich

Nasharra Askew

Jinny Benedetti

Caroline Cathey

Katherine Collett

Emily Cowan

Brookelyn Cramer

Jake Downard

Mikaylia Dudley

Jordan Echols

Ana Fernandez

Madison Harris

Ryan Head

Victoria Holder

Kameron Horn

Bryan Johnson

Taylor Jordan

Mysti Lee

Sarah Lewis

Kaitlin Ligon

Savannah Loftis

Naomi Maccaro

Timothy Maurer

Josh Mayorquin

Julianne Moore

Jada Prendergast

Kovan Saleem

Bridgett Sentmore

Bryan Shannon

McKenzie Thomas

Diane Tress

Marah Wanamaker


Jessica Locke-Russell

Trustee & Faculty

Batol Abdullah

Bethany Bradley

Jonathan Carrera

Heather Curtis

Dillon Estes

Preston Garrett

Sadie Guzik

Sydney McDaniel

Nathan Nicholson

Abby Roberts

Ally Stembridge

Tanaya Wilcox

Tulley Award

Emily Crawford

Drew Vernon


For Christian Cahill, teaching the Wills Clinic at Nashville School of Law is just another stop on his lifelong journey of learning.

“Every day, in every situation, and with every person you encounter, you have the opportunity to learn something. The flip side is that you can also use that as an opportunity to teach,” said Cahill, a 2016 graduate of NSL. “Studying at NSL has shifted the way I look at almost everything in my life. The fact that I’m able to give back something to NSL for all that it’s given me is just my pleasure.”

Cahill’s original intention for his law degree was so he could add a legal department to the international professional services company that he owns, Cahill & Dunn CHB, Inc. “But international law cases take so long to adjudicate, and there are so many intricate details, that it just takes an incredible amount of time,” he said. “I’m so unequivocally in love with the law, there’s no way I could just sit around and not do something with the law on a daily basis.”

As a solo practitioner, Cahill has a wide array of legal issues on his plate, including estate

Meet: Wills Clinic Coordinator Christian Cahill

where home recipients were provided free wills drafted by NSL students and executed under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

Once he was licensed, he continued working with the collaboration as one of the licensed attorneys. And in 2021, he joined NSL as the instructor for the yearlong Wills Clinic.

planning and civil litigation. Helping clients with estate planning is one of the most important aspects of his practice.

“Far and away, the most important thing to me is my family,” he said. “I look at estate planning as though it’s an opportunity to protect your family even after you’re gone.” It’s human nature to bury your head in the sand and not want to deal with something that makes you uncomfortable, Cahill said.

And thinking about death tends to make many people uncomfortable. “But when you can shift that paradigm and make them see it’s an opportunity to give one more gift to your family, to protect them one more time … It’s amazing how the conversation changes when people look at it through that lens.”

During his third and fourth years at NSL, Cahill participated in a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity led by instructor John Lewis

In addition to helping his students learn the subject matter, Cahill hopes they learn that kindness and compassion with clients are just as important in estate planning. “You need to establish trust with your clients, or you won’t be able to effectively help them. If we were in the medical field, you would call it our bedside manner.”

Cahill has also led a campaign since 2016 to provide a free one-page document with very specific instructions on how to draft a holographic will. “I want everybody in Tennessee who needs a will to have one. This is so important for everyone with minor children, because they don’t realize if they don’t put their wishes down in writing, it’s the State of Tennessee or the court system who decides where their children will go.”

A University of Mississippi graduate and former professional soccer player who has completed seven Ironman Triathlons, Cahill said his family will always come first. He and his wife, Gena, have two children: Lindzi Tilghman, an NSL graduate and attorney in Franklin, Tennessee, and son Yale, a sophomore pre-law student at Ole Miss.

“I’m so unequivocally in love with the law, there’s no way I could just sit around and not do something with the law on a daily basis.”

Meet: Juvenile Court Custody Clinic Coordinator Evan Baddour

When Evan Baddour was a student at Nashville School of Law, he knew one thing: he didn’t want to practice family law when he graduated. Fast forward five years later, and family law is one of his main areas of focus in his Pulaski, Tennessee, law practice.

“I assumed those cases had too much drama, between parents and their kids. The reality is that for a new lawyer, that’s the most available type of case to take – whether court-appointed or divorce work,” he said.

Baddour, who teaches the Juvenile Court Custody Clinic at NSL, now makes a point to tell his students to be open to where their practice will take them. “It’s funny how certain we are about things. I was certain I didn’t want to do family law,” he said. It didn’t look appealing, and it didn’t seem like the type of work I would want to take home with me. But it’s important work.”

The clinic is a one-hour elective course designed for third- and fourth-year students to represent indigent clients in actual Davidson County Juvenile Court cases, which includes modifying existing parenting plans or creating new ones.

“The unique nature of this course is it’s like moot court in that students get to practice courtroom lawyering live and apply all the things they’ve been learning the first three years of law school,” Baddour said. “But unlike moot court, they’re representing real parents. And they’re operating under a limited license under Rule 7, under the supervision of licensed attorneys. These are clients who otherwise would be representing themselves, so they’re really providing a service to indigent folks in the Nashville area. And I love seeing how exciting it is for our students – when they start to realize this isn’t all about them, that their work is going to determine a child’s custody situation.”

Baddour was in the courtroom recently when the judge made his ruling, and the father stood up and hugged both students assigned to his case. “He was clearly grateful, but you could see it was an important moment for the students too. This was probably the first time they had been thanked sincerely by a client for the work they had done,” he said. After graduating from NSL in 2018, Baddour decided to return to his hometown of Giles County to practice with his brother, Colby Baddour, a 2011 NSL graduate.

“They say you shouldn’t partner with someone unless you really trust them. I can’t imagine anyone I trust more than my brother,” he said. “We definitely have different strengths and perspectives. We have different world views, in some cases. He likes to say he keeps me grounded, and I keep him thinking. We make a good team.”

Baddour, a graduate of University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is fluent in Spanish, volunteers to provide legal services to the disenfranchised of Middle Tennessee and has been called for a consult on several immigration cases of Spanish-speaking clients. He is also an elected Giles County commissioner.

He successfully argued a court case before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in 2021 which made national news headlines. In the State of Tennessee vs. Tim Gilbert, Baddour argued that Gilbert, a Black man being tried in the Giles County Courthouse, didn’t receive a fair trial for his convictions because significant historical symbols, including Confederate flags, were present in the jury room. His convictions were reversed, and he was granted a new trial.

“Those items are no longer in the jury room, fortunately. But subtle, systemic racism can still exist in our court system,” Baddour said.


A Fond Farewell: Judge Philip E. Smith, NSL Professor of Family Law and Domestic Trial Practice (1960 – 2022)

Judge Philip E. Smith was a Nashville native. He loved telling stories of his childhood in Donelson, and the adventures (and mischief) he shared with his younger brother, Scott.

Judge Smith was a proud McGavock High School Raider. He went on to attend Middle Tennessee State University and then to Tennessee State University, obtaining his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from TSU in 1984.

After graduating from TSU, Judge Smith headed to Knoxville and the University of Tennessee College of Law. He truly did “bleed orange” and was a dedicated “Vol for Life.” He was known for passing out orange Tootsie Pops to children on adoption day and encouraging them to attend what he considered to be Tennessee’s flagship University. He was also known to shout a “go Vols!” from the bench on Fridays before game days.

Judge Smith graduated from law school in 1988 and began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in Nashville. In 1990, he entered the private sector, joining the Norman Law Office where he learned from his mentors, made lifelong friends, and developed his love of family law. He gained judicial experience serving as a Special Judge in the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Circuit Courts in Davidson County, as well as in Probate Court. At times, he also served as a Juvenile Court Referee.

In 2001, he partnered with Judge Phillip Robinson and Teresa Oglesby to form the firm of Robinson, Smith & Oglesby. In his 19 years of private practice, Judge Smith tried hundreds of civil cases, most of which were family law cases. He was recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Mid-South Super Lawyers and, was admitted as a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

He was certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Family Law Trial Advocate. Upon the retirement of former Fourth Circuit Court Judge Muriel Robinson, then Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Smith to fill her seat. He took the bench in March 2009 and subsequently won countywide elections in 2010, 2014, and 2022.

Judge Smith actively worked to prevent domestic violence. In 2010 he, along with advocate Jean Crowe, encouraged Mayor Karl Dean to evaluate the domestic violence prevention procedures in Davidson County. This request led to the Nashville-Davidson County Domestic Violence Safety and Accountability Assessment. The Assessment led to many improvements in the county’s approach to preventing domestic violence, including the creation of the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center and the Family Safety Center.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby referred to Judge Smith in an opinion she authored as a “learned judge”—a designation that brought him great joy. While he exuded joy and good humor, he took his responsibilities as judge seriously, and he was honored to serve the families and lawyers that came before him. He was firm yet compassionate, often saying he understood his courtroom was filled with good people experiencing their worst days. He strove to provide a fair and just outcome in every case, through sound legal reasoning, good common sense, and a dash of heart and humanity. Judge Smith treated everyone the same, with respect and dignity, irrespective of race, color, socioeconomic background, gender, or sexual orientation.

Judge Smith also served as a professor at the Nashville School of Law, where he thoroughly enjoyed teaching Family Law and Domestic Trial Practice. In 2022, he began a monthly webinar, Family Matters with Judge Phil Smith, in which he provided important information and discussed relevant issues in family law to attorneys and the public.

In 2015, the Women’s Political Collaborative presented Judge Smith its Good Guy Award

for his efforts to prevent domestic violence. The following year, the Nashville Bar Association honored him with its 2016 CLE Excellence Award. His accolades were many, yet they somehow fail to adequately honor his work and service.

On September 1, 2022, Judge Smith began his second full term as Judge of the Fourth Circuit Court of Davidson County, Tennessee, and his first term as Presiding Judge of the Davidson County State Trial Courts. He was excited about what he planned would be his final judicial term, and he was honored to serve his colleagues as Presiding Judge. As we often find, God has other plans—plans that are unexpected, incomprehensible, and sometimes jarring. Three days into his new term, he was called “home” and reunited with his parents, grandmother, and numerous other family members, dear friends and colleagues.

Judge Smith lived each moment with joy and good humor. He sought to forge a connection with everyone he met. He was genuinely happy and shared his happiness with everyone. He made real, true, lifelong friends.

Judge Smith died suddenly, and far too soon. We never had a chance to say goodbye. But he left a remarkable legacy. He left a professional legacy of fairness, compassion, and excellence. And he left a personal legacy to have fun, to be a good friend, and to live life to its fullest. I imagine that, if he were given the chance to share final words with anyone who would listen, he would say, “Carpe Diem!”


In Memoriam:

NSL Alumnus Bob Ballow ’63 passed away in December 2022, at the age of 91. Mr. Ballow was one of our School’s most distinguished graduates. During his six decades of practice, he became nationally and internationally renowned for his skill and expertise in media labor relations.

Mr. Ballow started his law firm, King & Ballow, with Frank S. King in the late 1960s. He represented various media companies all over the country. Ballow created the Robert L. Ballow Award for Excellence in Legal Writing at NSL which is given to those who win top honors in our Rigorous Writing Exercise Program.

Longtime Nashville School of Law Professor and former Board Member Harris Abram Gilbert passed away in February at the age of 91. He taught both Agency and Property at NSL from 1963 to 1986 and served on the NSL Board of Trust from April 1993 to September 2005.

Gilbert’s generosity was prevalent throughout the legal community and here at NSL. In 2007, he created a scholarship in memory of his father, Judge Charles Gilbert, which remains available to students today.

In honor of the late Robert “Bob” Beryl Beck Sr., a 1964 Alumnus of Nashville School of Law and well-respected business leader in our community, TDOT unveiled the Robert B. Beck Sr. Memorial Interchange in February.

The sign can be seen when you travel along Briley Parkway (State Route 155) near the Gallatin Road exit, which is mile marker 14. Beck passed away in February 2021.

James Rhyne Arnhart (1970)

Doswell P. Brown, III (1982)

Charles F. Carrick Jr. (1987)

Joe Marvin Chapman (1969)

Dinah L. Clark (1984)

Emery Frank Ferguson (1973)

Bobby Gene Foust (1966)

Charles Nicholas Griffith (1971)

Berry Schreve Hedrick (1987)

Dorothea Sensing Hetzel (1985)

Albert “Hale” Hooper (1961)

Nelda Faye “Sandy” Jones (1979)

Donnell J. Kelly (2007)

Robert Kirk Lee (1984)

James F. Lofton (1961)

David Earl Mead (1973)

James Theoplis McCoin II (2018)

Samuel “Tolby” McPheron (1967)

William Dunham Miller (1991)

Peggy J. Shipe Monger (1987)

Saundra Jean Newton (2010)

Gerald David Richardson (1971)

Stephen Irwin Rogers (1978)

Harry Max Speight (1969)

John Lee Smith (1956)

Robert Daniel Travis (1982)

Barry E. Weathers (1999)

Vincent Zuccaro (1980)


Bar Exam Success List

Congratulations to these NSL Alumni who passed the bar exam.

JULY 2022

Nicholas Alexander Bellamy

Jerry Dale Belt

Grant Doyle Benere

Michael “Chip” Cathey

Michael Chad Cunningham

Turner Smith Evans

William Lightfoot Gobbell

Benjamin Joseph Goss

Justin Kyle Hall

Sarah Frances Hay

Gregory Scott Hazelwood

Seth James Kantorik

Shannon Celeste Kerr

Robert Wesley Laxson

Craig William LeQuire

Alexandra Annelyse Lovan

Joy Ruth Santander Matanguihan

Danielle Nicole Montooth

Maxwell Arthur Moody

Rebecca Leigh Moore

Stephanie Limbaugh Nolan

Julie Downs Payne

John David Peppers

Randall Weston Pierce

Samantha Jane Prince

Christopher Rucker

Emily Rose Tatum

Donna Marie Tees

Kailyn Nicole Weiss

Matthew Steven Wood

Courtney Anne Worrall


“I watched the ceremony on YouTube once it was uploaded. One of my close friends came to visit. Several classmates texted, and my class wore pink ribbons on their gowns. I think my Facebook post explains how special that was to me,” Cherry said. (See FB Post photo below.)

Later that summer, Cherry and her dad, Ray Cherry, came to the NSL campus so she could receive her diploma. NSL Dean William C. Koch Jr. and the entire staff recognized Cherry and helped celebrate this special occasion.



are They Now? Annette Cherry ’22: Step by Step

Deciding to sit for the Tennessee Bar Exam comes with an understanding that life leading up to the exam will be filled with intense hours of planning, researching, and reviewing almost everything learned in law school.

For law school graduates who work full time, must take care of their family, or have other personal responsibilities, the process can test their limits.

Most Nashville School of Law 2022 Graduates took the exam in July. Alumna Annette Cherry decided to wait. She was already coping with an all-consuming life challenge.

“Experiencing six rounds of chemo, four hospital stays, bronchitis, multiple kidney stones, COVID, not even having the strength to go up and down the stairs at my house and just generally being knocked out from the treatments for two to three days in a row, I knew there was no way I could take the test in July,” said Cherry.


Cherry was diagnosed in March of 2022 with Stage IIB HER-2 positive breast cancer. With only two months before graduation, Cherry told NSL Staff, her professors, and classmates about her diagnosis.

“Everyone I told was so supportive. My class was more supportive than I could have imagined. They prayed for me and gave me their phone numbers so I could call them. They sent

Bible verses, a prayer cloth, and gift cards,” she said. “They gave me a book filled with notecards that I could read during treatment or on the days that I needed a pick-me-up.”

Regaining her health became Cherry’s priority. Starting chemotherapy in April, she managed to endure treatments while continuing her schoolwork.

She leaned on her family and classmates and remained steadfast in her faith. “I am a firm believer that the Lord knew what day he was going to put me on this Earth, and he knows what day he is going to take me from this Earth. My job is to do the best I can each day in between,” said Cherry.

During treatments her medical team determined the cancer had spread to her liver, which changed the diagnosis to metastatic breast cancer (aka Stage IV). Despite the unfortunate news and an increase in medication, Cherry did not quit.

“When people asked if I was going to finish (law) school I said, ‘Um yeah! I don’t care if I have to have someone drop me off at the door, I am not giving up at the end of four years’ worth of work,’” she said.

Cherry did finish her coursework, took her exams, and was on track to graduate. Days before NSL’s Commencement Ceremony, she was hospitalized once again which kept her home and unable to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.

In December of 2022, Cherry’s scans were clear, showing no cancer in her breast, lymph nodes or liver. However, due to her metastatic breast cancer (Stage IV) diagnosis, Cherry will continue IV maintenance chemotherapy and some oral medication for the rest of her life.

“I have been working on building up my strength and endurance. I have worked throughout this entire process remotely from my home office. My employer and team of co-workers have been very helpful,” she said. Recently celebrating 10 years working at the Law Office of K. Brian Hay in Columbia, Tennessee, Cherry talked with her boss about taking the bar exam in February.

“I want it to be ‘one and done’ as Professor David Hudson said at orientation all those years ago,” she said.

Cherry used Barbri, AdaptiBar and CriticalPass note cards to study. She called on class-

NSL Staff celebrates Annette Cherry’s graduation. Left to Right: Heather Bright, Susan Dulin, Dean William Koch, Annette Cherry, Beth McDonald, Stacey Angello, and Ray Cherry NSL 2022 Graduates wear pink ribbons in honor of classmate, Annette Cherry. (Annette’s Facebook post.)

mates who shared their study methods and even challenged herself to take the simulated Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).

“My entire body hurt taking the timed simulated MBE. I planned specifically to take it on that day because I had treatment the next day, and I knew I could rest,” Cherry said.

“Almost everything takes me longer now. I get very tired. Some days my body just says, ‘Lay back down ‘cause we aren’t doing anything but resting today.’”

Cherry continues to struggle with side effects from her medications. Feeling nauseous and sleepy are common symptoms. Yet, once she makes a plan, she follows through with that plan. For months, Cherry studied for the bar exam in her home office, and when she felt tired, she would listen to audio lectures and flash cards. She studied in her bed, or a comfortable nook, setting up makeshift desks throughout her house.

On Feb. 21 and 22, Cherry sat for the Tennessee Bar Exam at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds and finished on time both days. “It took a lot out of me, but I made it,” she said.


Coming from a family of real estate professionals, Cherry started her career as a title searcher in January of 1999. She hopes to continue her work at the Law Office of K. Brian Hay, and after passing the bar exam she would like to eventually expand her role working on quiet title suits and probates.

“I do not know yet what my ‘new normal’ is going to be, but I do know that one of my passions is property law and that will definitely have a place in my future,” Cherry said. To the NSL staff, instructors and her classmates, Cherry said she will always be grateful for their kindness and compassion.

“I have so many people praying for me. That is truly a blessing, a blessing that I have no way to repay, but one that I am thankful for,” she said. “NSL is a tight community of people who are willing to help their students and alumni.”

“I continue to remind myself to focus on the next step in front of me, not the entire staircase ahead of me,” Cherry said. “I just keep getting up each morning and doing the best I can for that day.”

Where are They Now? Leigh Wilburn ’12: On a Good Path

Sharing a similar life experience with Annette Cherry ’22, NSL Alumna Leigh Wilburn ’12 is thankful to be where she is today – married, busy with work, and healthy.

Wilburn was also diagnosed with breast cancer, back in September 2011.

Even though it was 10 years ago, she clearly remembers the first visit with her medical team.

“I promptly explained to the doctors that I ‘didn’t have time for this right now.’” We were approaching final exams, and I was determined not to repeat my third year,” she said.

Part of the Henry Class, whose students attended NSL February through December, Wilburn was wrapping up her third year in law school.

“I scheduled my surgery, a bilateral mastectomy, for October and only missed two weeks of class. I came back after surgery for finals and scheduled chemo to occur during the winter break. I completed chemo and reconstruction surgery and was back in class on the first day of my fourth year,” Wilburn said.

“I will never forget that day. One of my professors called on me to brief the first case “because my hat was so distracting.” I was prepared for the case. I briefed it, and after class I explained to him why I was wearing a hat in his class. He was very apologetic. We laughed and had a great semester together.”

During her final year at NSL, Wilburn remained determined and finished school on time, graduating with her classmates.

“I was on a mission and nothing else mattered. Sometimes I wish I had slowed down more.

But I believe that having momentum at that time in my life kept me from falling into a depression,” she said.

Wilburn was declared cancer free after her last chemotherapy treatment in 2012. She was admitted to the bar on May 1, 2013.

Nowadays, she owns and operates two successful title company offices in Tennessee — Fayette County Title Company in West Tennessee and CBC Title & Escrow in Portland, Tennessee. She also teaches a variety of classes at the UT Martin campus in Somerville.

“I will say, looking back on it now, I am so thankful and so grateful to be alive and to have had the support and camaraderie of my classmates and the faculty at NSL. I take absolutely no credit for being a survivor. For some reason, God didn’t see fit to call me home at that time. I don’t know why. But I am thankful,” she said.



Former Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge and Magistrate Jane C. Franks retired as Magistrate in 2022. She is now enjoying time with family, volunteering, and traveling.


Alumni from the NSL Class of 1974 gathered for their annual reunion in October 2022. It was their 48th reunion.


Stella Hargrove retired in August 2022. Judge Hargrove was the first female prose -


cuting attorney in the 22nd judicial district, first female circuit court judge in the 22nd judicial district, and first female president of the Maury County Bar Association. Hargrove served as the 22nd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge since 1998.


Michelle Poss was appointed to the National Guardianship Association Board of Directors. She was also named a 2022 Nashville Super Lawyer. Poss currently serves as the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Public Administrator. She sits on the Conservatorship Association of Tennessee Board of Directors and has a private practice in Nashville which focuses on probate and elder law.


Frank G. Clement Jr. won re-election for judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals Middle Section. Judge Clement was first appointed to this judicial position by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2003. He is a current Nashville School of Law Board Member. The oath was administered by Judge Andy Bennett, Tennessee Court of Appeals.


Mike Hagar was named Assistant Chief, overseeing three Metro Nashville Police Department bureaus: Executive Services, Administrative Services, and Support Services. Hagar has been with the MNPD for 32 years.


Elizabeth A. Garrett joined the law office of Stites and Harbison PLLC in September 2022 as a Member (Partner) in the Family Law Practice. Prior to joining the firm, Garrett had a private family law practice for 20 years.

Pictured here from left to right, front row to back row: Mike McMillen, Jim Barr, Dean Bill Koch, George Burke and John C. McLemore, Gene Davidson, Kirk Scobey, Ralph DeMarco, Jim Lackey, Covey Johnston, Ed Silva, Bill Shuff and Larry Williams.


Ginna Winfree Burrell was named a member of Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin PLLC (GSRM Law). Burrell practices in the firm’s Alcoholic Beverage Law section, working with clients on liquor license issues, regulation, and other enforcement matters.


David O’Neil was selected to become a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Academy. This is a nonpartisan training fellowship. It provides attorneys the tools needed to run for local public office.

William Slater is now Tennessee Rep. William Slater. He was sworn in this January as a new member of the 113th General Assembly.


Julie Wooten and classmate Jason Davis were selected for the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2023 Leadership Law Program. Wooten and Davis joined 31 other attorneys from Tennessee to learn about leadership in the legal profession, issues in the courts, the importance of community service, and policymaking in state government. Wooten works as Assistant General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and Davis is a partner at Davis Law Firm in Lewisburg.


John D. Roberts accepted the position of Chief Financial Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville in September 2022. Prior to this role, Roberts was CFO and General Counsel for the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

Kenny Dyer was named Assistant District Attorney in Davidson County assigned to the Domestic Violence Section in January.


Tracy Church received a promotion to Plant Manager of Tennessee Battery Operations (Blue Oval City) with Ford Motor Company. Blue Oval City is a planned automotive assembly complex in Tennessee operated by Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation. It should be operational in 2025 and is the site where the automotive company will begin production of an electric Ford F-150 Truck. After a lengthy career with Nissan Motor Corporation, Church accepted a position with Ford Motor Company in May 2022.

Ryan J. Moore was elected General Sessions Judge for Warren County. Previously, Judge Moore served as Municipal Judge for the Town of Morrison and was in private practice. He was honored by the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Access to Justice Commission with their “2020 Attorney for Justice” award for his pro bono work helping underserved nonprofit organizations in Warren County.


Colton McGee is the new Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Concord Label Group. McGee will support the label’s growth through new artist signings, acquisitions, and management of historical rights. McGee previously worked with BBR Music Group in Nashville. (Photo courtesy of Concord Label Group)

Amanda L. Bradley was selected as a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Academy. Nine attorneys from across the state have been selected to take part in the program. Bradley is a family law attorney with Hartzog & Silva, PLLC in Franklin.



Heather Fleming joined the Montgomery County Government as Human Resources Director.


Marcus Shute Jr. was selected for the 2023 Nashville Bar Foundation Leadership Class. He has a private practice which focuses on sports and entertainment law.

Billy Leslie and fellow classmate Chad Phillips have been selected for the 2023 Nashville Bar Foundation Leadership Class. This class of experienced local lawyers will participate in monthly workshops to help them realize their potential, benefiting the legal profession and our community. Leslie practices with Farrar & Bates. Phillips is an attorney with Sutherland & Belk.

(Class Notes continued on following page.)



After serving as Davidson County Criminal Court Judge for nearly 20 years, Honorable Mark Fishburn retired in August 2022. He was first appointed to this position by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2003. Fishburn will continue to teach Criminal Trial Practice & Essential Criminal Practice Skills at NSL. When he is not teaching, he plans to travel with his wife, work part time in the legal field, and visit his grandchildren in Florida.


Kyle Evans was promoted from Captain to Major in the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. He will oversee legal matters related to the Sheriff’s Office’s law enforcement and detention divisions, provide legal advice to the sheriff and the command staff, and serve as the liaison between the sheriff, the county attorney, and other county department leaders. Evans became staff attorney at the Sheriff’s Office in 2021.


Julie Downs Payne is the newest member of the business services team at Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella, PC, in Nashville. Payne, who won the NSL Founder’s Award, represents clients in all aspects of estate planning and business law.

Nashville School of Law Professor of General Sessions Practicum Judge Angelita Blackshear

Dalton was honored by the YMCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee for her work empowering other women. She received the Academy for Women of Achievement Award in January.

NSL President and Dean William C. Koch Jr. delivered the Oath of Office to all members of the Tennessee State Senate, including three new senators. The swearing in ceremony was held on the first day of the 113th General Assembly on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

(Photo Courtesy of Photographic Services for the State of Tennessee - Senate Chambers, Jan. 10, 2023. )


Honorable Patricia Cottrell, Professor of Legal Skills and Values I. Judge Cottrell joined Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) as a Neutral which is a veteran international arbitrator and mediator. She served on the Tennessee Court of Appeals for 16 years.

(Class Notes continued.)
Lisa Helton, Rigorous Writing Exercise Coordinator. Helton is a lawyer with Sherrard Roe Voigt Harbison in Nashville. Phil Newman, Professor of Domestic Trial Practice. Newman is a trial lawyer who practices family law at Puryear, Newman and Morton PLLC in Franklin.
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