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VOL. 121 | NO. 201 | Thursday, October 12, 2006

Evans & Petree Attorney Receives MBA Service Award

LESLEY J. GUDEHUS | Special to The Daily News

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"I have tried to [help the community] throughout my career so far, and I hope in the next 20 years my law practice will be of service to the community. We have an obligation to use what we know to make a difference"
- Caren Beth Nichol
Name: Caren Beth Nichol
Position: Principal
Company: Evans & Petree PC
Basics: Nichol recently was awarded the Sam A. Myar Jr. Memorial Award.

Caren Beth Nichol recently received the Sam A. Myar Jr. Memorial Award at the joint annual meeting of the Memphis Bar Association and the Memphis Bar Foundation.

The award is given each year to an attorney 40 years old or younger who has rendered outstanding personal service to the Memphis and Shelby County legal profession and community.

Nichol is a principal at Memphis law firm Evans & Petree PC. Her practice includes business litigation, family law and appellate practice. In addition, she recently graduated from the inaugural class of the Tennessee Bar Association's Leadership Law Program in 2004.

Born in San Diego, Nichol moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., with her family and then attended college in Houston before moving to Memphis. She earned her bachelor's degree in government at the University of Texas in 1989 and her law degree from the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1993.

Q: How did you feel when you learned you would be the recipient of the Sam A. Myar Jr. Memorial Award?

A: When I got the phone call, I asked, "Did you run out of people to give this to?" Actually, Susan Clark nominated me. She [recently retired from] Burch, Porter & Johnson, and she is a former president of the Memphis Bar Association. I had worked on a case with her, and she thought well of me. I do a lot of work with the Memphis Bar Association. I've been practicing law for about 14 years now. I started with Young Lawyers Association [of the MBA] and served on its board. I'm presently on the board of the Memphis Bar Association.

I also am involved in a number of community service projects. At the beginning of my career, the Memphis Bar Association had built a lot of Habitat for Humanity houses, and I [recruited] a lot of volunteers for that. My favorite part was nailing roofs. We did that through the [Memphis] Bar Association. We also were very involved for [Lee National Denim Day to support breast cancer research]. I got a lot of law firms to participate in that. I have a personal connection there. A friend of mine died at a very young age of breast cancer, so that's been [an important cause for me]. [Among other programs] I was very involved in a project for Facing History and Ourselves about the Constitution. I loved going to classrooms to talk about how special the Constitution is and what its historical importance is. I still do that from time to time.

Q: How much of your practice is devoted to family law?

A: Family law is a good 50 percent of what I do, mostly custody and divorce work.

Q: What is the Tennessee Bar Association's Leadership Law Program?

A: About 35 young lawyers statewide were selected for the program. It's a program to develop leadership skills, not only for leaders of law firms, but also in other areas. There are days spent on developing lawyers as leaders in the judiciary, legislation, community, community service and serving on boards. It is really about looking at what we can do to better society and develop our leadership abilities. To me, it seems there was a generation of lawyers who seemed to "go corporate" and focus purely on making money. The focus of the leadership program was to turn that around and see what it was we could do for the community.

I have tried to do that throughout my career so far, and I hope in the next 20 years my law practice will be of service to the community. We have an obligation to use what we know to make a difference.

Q: What do you consider to be the components of good leadership?

A: Listening, knowing what motivates people, a vision and the strength to do the right thing.

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