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VOL. 131 | NO. 134 | Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Williams Hired for Memphis Blight-Fighting Fellowship

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The city of Memphis and University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law recently hired Brittany J. Williams as the city’s first Neighborhood Preservation Fellow. In that role, Williams will represent the city in Environmental Court lawsuits against property owners who have vacant, abandoned or dilapidated properties that violate city codes.


The city provided the law school with $150,000 of funding to support the position through December 2017, with proceeds from its Vacant Property Registry used to fund the unique partnership between the law school and the city of Memphis law and public works divisions.

Hometown: Memphis

Experience: I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 2012 and from the University of Memphis School of Law with my Juris Doctorate in 2015. I have worked on the issues of blight, neglected properties and community development for almost two years.  

Favorite quote: “Justice is what love sounds like when it speaks in public.” – Michael Eric Dyson

Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? My grandmother has had the greatest influence on me. She was a very charismatic woman and expected no less than my best. If there was something she wanted to do she figured out a way to make it happen. 

What attracted you to the fellowship? I began doing this type of work as an extern while in law school. Steve Barlow presented me with the opportunity to work for his firm (Brewer & Barlow PLC) doing similar work and I have not stopped since. I knew the fellowship position would allow me to continue working to change neighborhoods and making Memphis an even better place to live. 

What are your goals in your new position? I would like to develop a strategic litigation plan for the areas of Memphis with the most code enforcement citations. My caseload comes mostly from code enforcement referrals, which originate from code enforcement citations. I think having a litigation plan for specific areas based on neighborhood demographics, resources and geographic boundaries would generate some creative solutions to the issues we encounter.

Another goal I have is to speak with more people in the community about the type of law I practice and how it is one tool in the efforts to address the increasing problem of blighted properties in Memphis. 

What do you most enjoy about your work? The thing I enjoy most about my work is meeting and talking to neighborhood associations and community members who live near properties where there has been a public nuisance lawsuit filed. To them it is not just another property or case number, it is the property that they see daily. They help me keep a balanced perspective to what I do. 

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Whatever you are interested in or wherever you see yourself in the future, learn as much about that as you can. 


Joe Claiborne has been promoted to senior manager of business diversity development for the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Claiborne has worked as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification administrator for MSCAA since July 2007, and previously worked as a supply relationship specialist for the Mid-South Minority Business Continuum before joining the Airport Authority.

Jeffrey C. Smith has joined Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP as a partner in the firm’s Memphis office. Previously a partner in the Memphis office of Adams and Reese LLP, Smith represents companies across a wide range of industries in commercial, construction and employment disputes as well as corporate, contractual and employment matters.


Lorri Harris has joined Unity Hospice Care as director of nursing for the Olive Branch office. Harris is a registered nurse and a certified hospice and palliative nurse.

Ben Ward has joined Crye-Leike Realtors’ Midtown Memphis branch. Ward has more than 20 years of real estate sales experience, previously with First National Realty and Newmark Grubb Memphis.

Crye-Leike Realtors has inducted six sales associates into the company’s Circle of Excellence and awarded them the honorary title of vice president. The inductees are: Bill Caller of Crye-Leike’s commercial branch office; Nathan “Nate” Mitchell, Midtown branch; Doug Damico and Melissa Wilbanks, Forest Hill branch; Jane Riggen, Atoka branch; and Trey Hogue, Cordova branch.

Mark Gray, a teacher at Collierville Middle School, is one of nine finalists for the Tennessee Department of Education’s 2016-17 Tennessee Teacher of the Year Award. The finalists include three teachers from each grand division of the state (West, Middle and East). The Teacher of the Year and grand division winners will be announced this fall following a panel interview with each finalist.

PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047