Marcy Dodds Magee, a partner with Thomason Hendrix Harvey Johnson & Mitchell, PLLC, has been awarded the Sam A. Myar Jr. Memorial Award.
Named for the late Sam Myar, who died in 1959 at the age of 39, the award is given each year to an attorney younger than 40 years old who has “rendered outstanding personal service to the Memphis and Shelby County legal profession and community,” according to the Memphis Bar Association.
Magee described the award, which was presented Thursday, Dec. 6, at the MBA’s annual meeting, as “humbling” and “an unbelievable honor.”
“My law firm has been very active in the bar association and there have been several recipients of this award that are my current partners right now, so it does mean a great deal to me,” Magee said.
Magee is the past-president of the Young Lawyers Division of the Memphis Bar Association for which she was also on the board of directors. In college at the University of Tennessee, where she received her undergraduate degree in political science, she volunteered with the Tennessee School for the Deaf, the Humane Society and other organizations through her involvement with the student government association.
Her dream of being an attorney began long ago. When she graduated from law school, her mother gave her a forgotten essay written in the third grade about wanting to be a lawyer.
“It’s just something that I’ve always thought I wanted to do,” Magee said.
The idea would be furthered while a student at Germantown High School when neighbor and old-guard attorney Frank Glankler Jr. told her, “If you want to practice in Memphis, you need to come back to Memphis and go to school.”
At the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law she was involved in community service projects and activities with the Student Bar Association.
Graduating from U of M in 1998, Magee clerked with the now-defunct Shuttleworth, Smith, Williams, Sabbatini & Harper PLLC for several years before joining Thomason Hendrix, where she specializes in trial law defending medical malpractice suits.
Recent laws have done away with nuisance cases, Magee says, so the cases she and her colleagues handle now have more merit and each can take up a vast amount of time.
It’s challenging but this is why she went into the legal profession in the first place, she said.
“Some people go into this looking to change the world, but that’s not really my outlook on it,” Magee said. “My focus is on each particular doctor that I represent; if I can make a difference in their lives, then I’ve accomplished my goal.”
One of the more lasting lessons she learned as an attorney right out of law school, and one which she hopes to pass along to those looking to pass the bar, is that of civility among peers and the importance of working closely, not just with colleagues, but with those on the opposite side of the table.
“It is better for our clients if we can all get along,” she said. “There are certain things as lawyers on both sides that we know we have to do, and if we can accomplish those things in a civil manner and work together to reach the end results … if we can agree on things ahead of time, it’s just better.”
Medical malpractice cases can take years to be resolved, whether in trial or out, and the time spent in preparation presents a tough balance for the mother of a 4 year old daughter, who says she owes a lot to her husband, Jarrett, a real estate appraiser, for taking over at home when a trial gets near.
The hours preparing, though, is time that is ultimately rewarding. Making a difference in someone’s life, she says, and helping to ease the burden of a potentially bad ordeal is what keeps her going day in and day out.
“I love nothing more than to get a hug from a doctor after the case is over with and have them say ‘thank you,’” she said. “That’s all the reward I need.”