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VOL. 118 | NO. 131 | Thursday, July 22, 2004

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LAW TALK: Tommy Parker

Parker Moves From Public Service to Private Practice

LANE GARDNER CAMP

The Daily News

Tommy Parker joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC in April as a shareholder after working as an assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the criminal division for nine years. He concentrates his practice in litigation.

Parker has a bachelors degree from the University of South Carolina and a law degree from Vanderbilt University. Among his many professional activities, Parker serves on the board of directors of CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates.

 

Q. Why did you decide to join Baker Donelson?

I viewed this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a great group of lawyers in Memphis that is part of an established, growing, world-class law firm with a national presence.

 

Q. What do you think you will miss most and least about your prior work as a U.S. assistant attorney?

In the U.S. Attorney's office, the working assumption is that society prevails when justice is done. Thus, our first obligation was to pursue justice and advocate the government's position only when it was consistent with that ideal. In private practice, of course, while we are bound by the rules of ethics, we are advocates for our clients first and foremost. I will miss most the public service aspect of prosecuting criminal cases. As for what I miss least, that's a bit tougher, as my time there was so challenging and rewarding. If I had to choose, I must say I don't miss the bureaucratic mindset that can be so prevalent in any federal agency.

 

Q. What is the most important lesson youve ever learned from a judge?

It is hard to focus on simply one lesson because virtually every courtroom appearance has been a learning experience. I have learned a great deal from my fellow lawyers as well as the judges. An important issue to one judge may not be as vital to the next. One of my heroes was Judge Jerome Turner. He was such a dedicated legal scholar. He loved debate, regardless of the issue. Practicing in his courtroom taught me to know my case and to be prepared for anything. He once asked me if he had the statutory authority to sentence a defendant in the way I was asking. I told him I would never question the authority of a federal judge, but he wanted to make sure he was not overstepping his constitutional authority. Until he asked the question, it had never occurred to me that his authority would arise as an issue. I try now to take nothing for granted.

 

Q. Why are you a CASA board member?

This is a wonderful organization that provides advocacy services for abused and neglected children in Memphis and Shelby County. The executive director, Dan Michael, is a lifelong friend and it is an honor working with him and other committed people on the board striving to provide a voice for these children in need of a safe, permanent home.

 

Name: Tommy Parker

Position: Shareholder

Company: Baker Donelson

Basics: Parker, who concentrates his practice in litigation, previously was an assistant U.S. attorney.

 

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