Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 30, 2015

Chattanooga Bar Association hosts annual meeting

L-R: Lynda Minks Hood, executive director, Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA); Paul Hatcher, president, CBA; Joe Simpson, recipient of the 2014 Ralph H. Kelley Humanitarian Award; Tim Mickel, immediate past president, CBA; Richard Schulman, recipient of the 2014 Harry Weill Zealous Practice of Law Award; and Charles “Buz” Dooley, recipient of the 2014 Albert L. Hodge Volunteer Award. Not pictured: Marcia Eason, recipient of the President’s Award, and the Hon. Clarence Shattuck, recipient of the Jac Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award. To see more photos pick up a copy of the Hamilton County Herald. - (Photo by Alex McMahan)

The Silver Ballroom at the Read House looked full on Wednesday, Jan. 21 during the 117th Annual Meeting of the Chattanooga Bar Association (CBA). But the association’s newly installed president, Paul Hatcher, didn’t just see the hundreds of lawyers and judges gathered together to hand out awards, install new officers and board members, and enjoy a catered lunch; he also saw the empty seats he wants the Bar to fill.

During remarks he gave after his former colleague at Duncan, Hatcher, Hixson & Fleenor, Chancellor Pam Fleenor, swore him into office, Hatcher called on the members of the Bar to help swell its ranks from fewer than 65 percent of the city’s attorneys to something closer to the 85 percent the association claimed when the economy was healthy.

“As great a job as we’re doing, and as great an organization as this is, we still have a drop in membership we need to repair,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher challenged the Bar’s members to especially pursue younger attorneys who have graduated from law school and passed the bar exam but are not yet members. His recommendation: sponsor them by paying half of their membership fee. “Maybe they don’t understand the value of being a member of this association, or perhaps they don’t have a large firm paying their way,” he said.

Hatcher also revealed plans to attract more attorneys to the Bar by changing the name of CLIPS (Chattanooga Legal Information Provider Service) to Lawyer Referral Service and launching a public service campaign to inform the public of the free online resource. “We want to make the Bar something attorneys will have to join,” he said. “This might pull some of them in because it will hit them in their [wallets and] pocketbooks.”

(Read more about the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service in this week’s installment of Executive Director Lynda Hood’s column, “Raising the Bar,” on page 3.)

Earlier in the meeting, the first order of business was the presentation of awards for the past year. Ellie Hill, the outgoing president of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the CBA, got the ball rolling by announcing Brittany Thomas of Grant Konvalinka & Harrison as the recipient of the YLD Volunteer of the Year Award.

A native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Thomas has organized citizenship clinics with the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, served as co-chair of Temple Mizpah’s Social Action Committee, and supervised the UT Law Alternative Spring Break immigration project in Chattanooga. She has also served as Board Secretary for La Paz of Chattanooga, where she gave free consultations and low bono fees to clients.

In addition, Thomas volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, is the East Tennessee Wills for Heroes Chair for the Board of the Tennessee Bar Association YLD, is the incoming Secretary/Treasurer of the Chattanooga YLD, and is the incoming president of SETLAW (South East Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women). She’s also a YPAC and Inns of Court member.

“In the two years she’s been practicing in Chattanooga, she’s been overwhelmingly dedicated to our profession and to the local community,” Hill said of Thomas. “She’s new to our community, but she’s already made a big impact.”

Next, outgoing Bar president Tim Mickel presented the Albert L. Hodge Volunteer Award to Charles “Buz” Dooley of Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan. The Bar gives the award to an attorney who has provided exemplary volunteer service to the CBA and the larger legal community.

“He volunteers every Wednesday morning at Legal Aid of East Tennessee, where he meets with clients and often contacts other attorneys about volunteering their time,” Mickel said. “Legal Aid estimates he serves almost 200 pro bono clients a year.”

Flossie Weill then took the stage to announce Richard Schulman of Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway as the recipient of the Harry Weill Zealous Practice of Law Award, presented annually to a member of the Bar whose energetic and enthusiastic service to clients is worthy of praise.

“[Richard] epitomizes the qualities of the award given in memory of my father,” Flossie said. “My father’s energy amazed me, as does the energy of this year’s recipient, who goes the extra mile in the courtroom for his clients, and goes the extra mile as a dedicated runner.

“He’s practiced law in our community for more than 40 years, and in the process has earned the respect of colleagues far and wide,” Flossie continued. “He’s a fierce advocate and a real gentleman.”

After returning to the podium, Mickel announced Judge Clarence Shattuck as the recipient of the Jac Chambliss Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor is given to a member of the Bar who has demonstrated the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitated access to the justice system, served and supported the community, and maintained a high standard of ethics.

“[Judge Shattuck] has done all of these things both as a lawyer and as a practicing judge,” Mickel said. “He is truly a person to whom you can align your compass.”

Mickel then announced Marcia Eason of Miller & Martin as the recipient of the President’s Award, given to the person who has most helped the president during his or her year in office. “This one was tough because I called on many of you this year,” he said. “But [Marcy’s] experience as a past president of this association and as a past president of the Tennessee Bar Association made her an invaluable resource. When you couple that experience with her keen intellect, good nature, solid judgment, and commitment to this community, you’ve got yourself a pretty darn good advisor.”

Last but not least, Mickel called on attorney Alan Cates of Husch Blackwell to present the Ralph H. Kelley Humanitarian Award, the highest honor the Bar bestows. The award is given to a member of the legal profession or judicial officer who has provided outstanding service to the Chattanooga community through civic and professional activities directed at improving and preserving the lives, property, and dignity of its citizens. The 2014 recipient is Joseph Simpson, also of Husch Blackwell.

Speaking without notes, Cates said, “It’s a pleasure to present an award to a human being who regards all people with respect and even deference, and who goes out of his way to make certain their lives, property, and dignity are preserved by giving generously of his time, talent, money, and energy.

“The best teaching of all comes from a life well lived in service. There is nothing better one can do, according to the man for whom this award is named. Ralph Kelley served as mayor of this city, was a practicing lawyer, and was a judge who was kindly disposed to young attorneys. [Joseph] would have been welcome in his court, as life and service are one and the same for him”

After the presentation of the awards, the Bar took up new business, including the nomination of new officers for 2015. The nominating committee had recommended Tracy Cox, John Harrison, and Jacoway as new governors, as well as Judge Christie Sell as president-elect, Bill Colvin as treasurer, and Lee Davis as secretary. All were unanimously elected.

Mickel then presented his final remarks as outgoing president, saying 2014 had been an active year for the Bar. In addition to supporting the passage of Amendment 2, which addresses how appellate judges are selected in Tennessee, the Bar negotiated and entered into a long-term lease for its office (which remains at the same location), became more visible to the public through columns published in the Hamilton County Herald, held its annual Memorial Service in March, hosted Dr. Fred Gray during Law Day (which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act), handled fee disputes, and updated the civics booklet “When You Become 18 in Tennessee: A Survival Guide For Young Adults,” which is given to high school seniors throughout Hamilton County.

“It’s been a hard but rewarding year,” Mickel said.

The upcoming year promises to be busy as well. The Bar will host its annual Memorial Service on Friday, March 6 at 11 a.m. in the County Commission Room of the Hamilton County Courthouse. In addition, Hatcher announced Bud Krogh, Jr., attorney for President Nixon, will  be the speaker for Law Day. Work will also continue on a new, more functional website.