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VOL. 118 | NO. 31 | Thursday, February 19, 2004

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Statewide Program Develops Law Leaders


The Daily News

Seeing a need to develop leaders in the law field, John Tarpley also felt the need to do something about it.

As 2004 president of the Tennessee Bar Association, Tarpley saw an opportunity for outstanding attorneys to become not only leaders in the field, but in the communities they serve, as well. So Tarpley created Leadership Law, a six-month program that offers leadership training for selected lawyers from across the state.

Every organizations primary goal is to develop new and strong leaders for the future, Tarpley said. I realize that Im not going to be around forever. Other strong leaders of the bar are not going to be around forever, and for our profession to survive, weve got to have strong leadership.
Back to school. The 32 students in Leadership Laws first class attend sessions once a month through June. Barry Kolar, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Bar Association, said the program is similar to leadership development initiatives offered by communities, only with a more targeted focus.

A lot of cities have this program, like a Leadership Memphis, where they develop community leaders, he said. This is similar, but develops leaders in the law profession.

The goal of the initiative is to build leadership with respect to ethical, professional and community service issues; build relationships among legal leaders; raise awareness on a broad range of issues facing the profession; and enhance the diversity of leaders within the profession.

Six Memphians are among the attorneys in the inaugural class: Amy Pepke of Armstrong Allen; Lea Hall Speed of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; Karen Campbell of Gary K. Smith & Associates; Melanie Murry of the University of Memphis; Bruce McMullen of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell; and Caren Nichol of Stokes, Bartholomew, Evans & Petree.

Beyond borders. Pepke said the chance to develop leadership skills while interacting with attorneys from across the state attracted her to the program.

You can do this in Memphis with other Memphis lawyers and leaders, but to join an organization that brings leaders from across the state together to talk to each other about ideas thats unique, Pepke said. I hope to make contacts outside of Memphis, not just for business purposes, but to open my mind up to different legal issues, to open my mind to different ways of approaching different problems that face the field.

Last months opening retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park in Nashville included sessions led by outstanding attorneys from across the state.

We had some premier names in the Tennessee legal community who spoke, Kolar said. The opening retreat set the stage in a lot of ways and developed relationships between the class participants.

Nichol agreed.

In Memphis, we tend to get a little segregated from the rest of the state, and it was a good opportunity for me to meet people from across the state, she said.

Timeless issues. The groups second session, held Tuesday, dealt with issues in policy and politics. It focused on the legislative and executive branches of state government.

Marchs session, led by Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge William Koch Jr., will cover the courts, focusing on the state court system and issues facing the judiciary.

During Aprils session on issues in bar leadership, Memphis attorney Lucian Pera of Armstrong Allen will lead the program focusing on the workings of the Tennessee Bar Association.

And in May, Nashville attorney Bill Ramsey will share his experiences as a community leader during a session on issues in community leadership. The session will focus on the role attorneys can play in their communities and in business relationships outside the courtroom.

The final session is the June commencement, held in conjunction with the annual TBA Convention in Nashville.

Leadership potential. Once the program was formulated, a list of leaders in the profession from across the state was compiled, Kolar said. Those leaders were asked to nominate attorneys as candidates for the program. About 100 were nominated.

These are people who have been in practice five to 15 years, Kolar said. So theyre not newcomers theyre people who have been identified as leaders, and this is to help them make the next step.

A unique aspect of the program, Tarpley said, is the diversity of the attorneys involved in the inaugural class.

This is about as diverse a group you can find, he said. They are diverse in gender, race, practice area they are about as different from one another as you can have with a group of attorneys in the state of Tennessee.

It is really a dynamic and wonderful group.

Nichol said the program not only fosters relationships among lawyers from different areas in Tennessee, but within local communities, as well.

Lea Hall Speed at Baker Donelson she and I had never met before, Nichol said. She does patent work and I do litigation, and ordinarily we would never have run into each other. We have become really good friends in the last three weeks.

For the future. Although Leadership Law is an initiative of Tarpleys, he hopes it is something that will continue to be offered for the states attorneys.

It is contemplated it will continue in the future, really for as long as its needed, he said, adding that the program has been well-received by firms throughout the state. In all likelihood, at the end of June well evaluate the program, tweak what we need to and then send out the announcement of a new program and select another class next fall.


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