Gail Ashworth ’83 elected president of Tennessee Bar Association

Gail Vaughn Ashworth ’83, a founding partner with Gideon & Wiseman in Nashville, recently took office as the Tennessee Bar Association¹s 127th president, pledging to continue helping those in need obtain access to justice and working to improve diversity in the profession. She received the oath of office from Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Janice Holder on June 19 during the TBA¹s annual convention in Memphis. In her keynote address, Ashworth also outlined plans for encouraging civics education, launching a ³green² initiative for the legal community and helping members use technology more effectively in the practice of law.

Taking office with Ashworth was Memphis lawyer Danny Van Horn ’97, who was elected vice president of the association in the spring. He will assume the office of president-elect in 2010 and serve as president during the 2011-2012 bar year ­ becoming the youngest president ever to serve the organization. In speaking about plans for his year as president, Van Horn says he would like to educate more people about the state¹s legal system, improve the juror experience, create a system to connect volunteer attorneys with those in need of free legal advice, increase the association¹s use of social media, and launch a mock trial program for new and young lawyers to hone their litigation skills.

Ashworth has served the state bar association in a variety of roles over the years.From 1999 to 2007, she was general counsel, advising the TBA on administrative policy. From 2004 to 2007, she served on the steering committee of the TBA¹s award-winning Leadership Law Program, co-chairing the committee during the program¹s inaugural year in 2004. Ashworth also has been an active member in the association¹s Young Lawyers Division (YLD), first as a new attorney and later as a member of the TBA YLD Fellows.

She has been an active member of the Nashville Bar Association (NBA) and the American Bar Association (ABA), serving as president of the Nashville Bar in 1997, and from 2000-06 as the Nashville Bar’s elected delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. She also is a former chair of the association¹s CLE and Alternative Dispute Resolution committees, and a fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation and the NBA YLD. For the ABA, she has served on and co-chaired the Leadership Academy Steering Committee of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the ABA YLD.

She has also chaired the Tennessee Justice Center Board of Directors, co-chairing the Tennessee Supreme Court Jury Reform Commission, and served in the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women and the Nashville chapter of the Lawyers Association for Women. In Nashville, she has served as a member of Centennial Medical Center¹s Medical Ethics Committee and on the board of directors of Sister Cities Nashville, Inc. She also is a former member and chair of the State of Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

Memphis native Danny Van Horn practices law at the Memphis firm of Butler Snow O¹Mara Stevens & Cannada, where he focuses on commercial litigation, including business torts, unfair competition, insurance disputes and product liability. Van Horn has been extremely active in the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA), serving  as president of the TBA Young Lawyers Division in 2005. Van Horn also has been active in the American Bar Association, serving as a member of the Standing Committee on Membership, a member of the House of Delegates and YLD Assembly speaker, the second highest national YLD officer. He is also a member of the Memphis and Mississippi bar associations.

Among his many accomplishments, Van Horn has distinguished himself in the field of pro bono service. Two years ago, he launched an effort to raise funds and attorney involvement in free clinics for HIV-positive patients. In addition, he is the co-founder of the Atticus Finch Referral Network. Named for the lawyer who took on an unpopular case in the book To Kill a Mockingbird, the network links attorneys willing to provide free legal advice with needy Memphians. He also served on the Memphis Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and was received Memphis Area Legal Services¹ Pro Bono Service Award in 2006. Finally, this past year, Van Horn was instrumental in passage of new Supreme Court rules that will provide greater funding for legal aid agencies in the state.

In the Memphis community, Van Horn has been active in the Phoenix Club, the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis, serving on boards and in other positions of leadership.

The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 10,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA¹s dedication to serving the state¹s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.

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