VOL. 118 | NO. 131 | Thursday, July 22, 2004
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
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
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
Company: Baker Donelson
Basics: Parker, who concentrates his practice in
litigation, previously was an assistant U.S. attorney.