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VOL. 122 | NO. 15 | Thursday, January 25, 2007

Leadership Law Class is Off to Sprinting Start

By Amy O. Williams

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2007 Leadership Law Class Members from Memphis:

Amy Elisabeth Ferguson: Associate, Glankler Brown PLLC
Beverly Sanders Gates: Associate, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC
Darryl D. Gresham: Partner, Allen, Summers, Simpson, Lillie & Gresham PLLC
Justin M. Ross: Senior Attorney, FedEx
W. David Smith: Assistant General Counsel, Assistant Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer, Thomas & Betts Corp.
Emily Campbell Taube: Associate, Adams and Reese LLP
Daniel W. Van Horn: Member of Commercial Litigation Group, Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada PLLC

2007 Leadership Law Schedule:

Jan. 4-6 Retreat at Montgomery Bell State Park, Dickson County
Feb. 20 "Leadership in Public Policy," Nashville
March 15 "Leadership in the Judiciary," Montgomery Bell State Park
April 18, 19 "Community Leadership," Knoxville
May 15, 16 "Leadership in Action," Memphis
June 15 Graduation; TBA Annual Convention in Nashville

The Tennessee Bar Association is on a mission to groom the next generation of leaders in the state's legal community. The TBA has been doing that for the past three years with its Leadership Law program.

The association kicked off this year's Leadership Law program the first week of January with a retreat for the class of 2007. The retreat took place over three days at Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson County and served as a bonding experience for those who participated.

Memphis attorney David Smith is one of this year's class members, and said the retreat was a great way to start the program.

"It was the first chance for many of the class members to be together," said Smith, who knew only two or three of the attorneys in the class when he arrived at the retreat. "I didn't know many people at all, because we are all practicing in different parts of the state and have different types of practices. So it was really a great opportunity to come together and get to know each other."

High-profile apprenticeship

Smith is assistant general counsel and chief compliance officer for Thomas & Betts Corp. and one of 34 members of the Leadership Law program's class of 2007. The 2007 class is the fourth year for the program.

"What (the TBA) is trying to do is acquaint the next generation of bar leaders with the current generation of bar leaders and leaders in the legal profession," Smith said. "The program is designed to try to educate the next generation of lawyers that are ready to lead the bar association."

The group is made up of attorneys from across the state who work in all different types of practice areas. Seven members of this year's class are from Memphis. The attorneys are nominated by leaders of the bar in their areas, including judges and alumni of the Leadership Law program.

In addition to Smith, the class is represented by a senior attorney at FedEx Corp. in Memphis, a General Sessions Court judge from Chattanooga and a number of attorneys from East, West and Middle Tennessee who work in private practice.

With 18 years of practice behind him, Smith said he is among the lawyers in the program who have been practicing the longest. The classes typically have attorneys who have been practicing from five to 15 years, said TBA executive director Allan Ramsaur, though there are some exceptions.

"The program began because we needed a way to broaden the experience that many lawyers had and broaden their experience and expose them to the issues that face the profession," Ramsaur said.

Power network

Each year since it began, the program has brought the attorneys together over a six-month period for programs on various facets of leadership. During those months, the programs focus on everything from leadership in government to leadership roles in the courts and current issues in the state, said Jonathan Hancock, an alum of the program's 2006 class.

Class members will travel to Nashville for a program about leadership in public policy, to Knoxville to learn about community leadership and to Memphis for leadership in action. The Memphis program will be held during May.

Hancock is coordinating the Memphis program and said he hopes to have a variety of speakers from the area, including attorney Shep Tate, senior parter of Tate Lazarini Brady & Guerra PLC, businessman Allie Prescott and Shelby County Mayor
A C Wharton Jr.

Hancock, who is a member of Glankler Brown PLLC, practices in the areas of employment law and general civil rights litigation. Participating in the program has helped his practice in a number of ways, Hancock said.

"It really helped solidify a contact of really good lawyers around the state," he said. "It's also helped to broaden ... the knowledge of everyone involved of what is going on across the state."

Lawyers tend to get so wrapped up in what they are doing in their own cities and regions they forget what might be happening in Nashville, Chattanooga and other places, Hancock said.

"It was a nice eye-opener to developments that are happening in other parts of the state," he said. "It was a great program, and they spent a wonderful amount of time focusing on ways that lawyers can improve their profession, and even more importantly, their communities."

See today's Law Talk feature on Page 3 for the first in a series of interviews with Leadership Law class members from Memphis.

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