August 2014 Law@Vanderbilt Class Notes Highlights

Jul 22, 2014


Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins, Class of 1986, was sworn in by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam July 16 as the newest justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court. He succeeded Justice William C. Koch ’76, who retired July 15 to become dean of the Nashville School of Law.

Tammy L. Kennedy, Class of 1988, has been named acting general counsel of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. Tammy previously was the department’s principal deputy counsel.

Tamara W. Ashford, Class of 1994, was nominated in September 2013 by President Barack Obama to a 15-year term on the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C. She is currently the deputy assistant attorney general for appellate and review in the Department of Justice’s Tax Division. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved her nomination, and she is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Matthew R. Burnstein, Class of 1996 (BA’93), has been promoted to chairman of the Nashville-based firm, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, effective August 1. Matt has spent his entire legal career at Waller. He joined the firm in 1997 after graduating Order of the Coif and serving as a clerk to Chief Judge Charles R. Simpson III in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.



James P. Stavros was honored by the Kentucky Bar Association for having spent 50 years practicing law. The ceremony took place Friday, June 20 in Covington. After law school, Jim joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serving as special agent in Cleveland and New York City. After three years, he returned to his hometown, Ashland, Kentucky, to practice law. He and his wife Suzanne are the parents of Peter and Cathy, who are both attorneys. Jim said he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. He said his health is excellent, which he attributes to his ritual of walking three or four miles a day, including to and from his office most days.


Charles H. Montgomery received the North Carolina Bar Association’s 2014 Citizen Lawyer Award, which recognizes lawyers who engage in public service, including military service, nonprofit or political work, and work with youth sports or religious organizations. Chuck is a senior partner at Montgomery Family Law.


David C. Horn has been promoted to executive vice president, chief legal and administrative officer, and secretary at AK Steel. David previously was the company’s executive vice president, general counsel and secretary.


C. Dewey Branstetter Jr. joined Sherrard & Roe as a partner. Dewey was previously managing member of Branstetter Stranch & Jennings, which was founded by his father, Cecil D. Branstetter, who died in May. A Nashville native, Branstetter has practiced law for more than 30 years. He concentrates on utility and municipal issues and complex litigation. He is currently chairman of the Metropolitan Nashville’s Charter Revision Commission and first vice president of the Nashville Bar Association.


Bruce Frederick Rogers has been elected by the Birmingham-Southern College Board of Trustees to serve as its new chair. Bruce has served on the board for 12 years. He is a partner and attorney with Bainbridge Mims Rogers & and Smith in Birmingham. He earned his B.A. in history at Birmingham Southern in 1980.

Margaret J. Davino has been named a new section chair by the New York State Bar Association. Margaret is a partner at Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan, where she focuses on health care law.


Stephen R. Davis has been named executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief business officer of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company. Steve, who is also a CPA, had most recently served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Heron Therapeutics, Inc.


James Beattie has been appointed associate dean for academic affairs of Capital University Law School. Jim joined the Capital University law faculty in 2001. In 2002, he was named as the school’s winner of the Association of American Law Schools Teacher of the Year Award. He has taught constitutional law, law and religion, jurisprudence, and the First Amendment, and served as a faculty adviser to the Capital University Law Review, the Jessup International Law Moot Court Team and the National Moot Court Team. He also served as chair of the university faculty senate. Before joining Capital’s law faculty, Jim taught philosophy at Tulane and Xavier Universities in New Orleans. He was a clerk for Chief Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and then litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York and with Greenberg Traurig in Miami before becoming a professor.


Shane Rock was named chief executive officer of Interfaith Works, a leading social service agency in Montgomery County, Maryland. Shane joins Interfaith Works with 20 years of experience working in for nonprofit, social service and advocacy organizations, most recently as director of operations for senior services for the Jewish Social Services Agency in Rockville.


Rupert A. Byrdsong was appointed a judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on June 18. Rupert has been an attorney at Ivie McNeill & Wyatt since 1995 and became a partner with the firm in 2001. Rupert fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on August 12, 2013.


Paul Francis Perea has been named managing director and general counsel of Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., a global energy investment and merchant bank based in Houston. Paul was previously a partner with Baker Botts, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and general corporate and securities matters.


Eleanor Griffith McDonald has been promoted to executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Ingram Industries in Nashville. She joined Ingram in 2006 and previously served as vice president and deputy general counsel.


Casey Gill Summar has been named a finalist for the Nashville Emerging Leader Award by Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville. Casey is executive director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville.


Adam L. Herman has been named general counsel at Prestige Equipment Corp. in Melville, New York.


Thomas P. Claycomb has been appointed master commissioner and domestic relations commissioner in LaRue County, Kentucky, where he practices as the managing member of the Claycomb Law Office in Hodgenville with his father and his wife, Catherine Barrington Ford ’07. As master commissioner, Tom assists the county circuit court in enforcement of duties, and as domestic relations commissioner, he reviews divorce and child custody actions and makes recommendations to circuit judges. Tom and Catherine have a son, Peyton.

Gabe Roberts has been named a finalist for the Nashville Emerging Leader Award by Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville. Gabe works for the Tennessee Department of Health Care Finance & Administration.

Scott Tift has been named partner of the Nashville firm, Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison (formerly Barrett Johnson). He focuses on complex civil litigation and labor employment law.



Brittany Morgan Doolittle (Britt) married Andrew Curry in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 8, 2014. Seven members of the Class of 2009 were in the bridal party; Annie Koday was maid of honor, Angie (Carmignani) Wickert was matron of honor, and Julia Fenwick, Maggie Johnson, Diane Pettit, Brooke Russ and Jenny Worthy were bridesmaids.

James Gibson and Katie Garrety Gibson (BA’03) were married on May 10 in Birmingham, Alabama, where they will live. James is an associate with Lightfoot Franklin & White, and Katie is a law clerk to Judge Madeline H. Haikala, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. James’ law school roommate, Wilson Loftis, was as an usher.


Jason Michael Fuhrman married Alexandra Martin Shookhoff May 31 at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Manhattan. Jason works in East Elmhurst, Queens and Albany as senior adviser to José Peralta, a state senator from Queens.


Tracy Robb Hancock (BS’10) married Eleanor Marie Slovick (BS’11, MEd’12) in June in Kansas City. The couple met at Vanderbilt as members of VU’s marching band. Tracy practices at Bryan Cave. He and Eleanor live in Prairie Village, Kansas.



R. Wilson Loftis III and his wife, Holly, welcomed their son, Franklin Ronald, on July 3. Frank is their first child. At birth, he was 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 ¼ inches, but he is already growing! The family lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Wilson is an associate at Moore & Van Allen.



Lt. Col. William E. Lacy, 90, died May 19. After high school, Bill entered the military, where he trained as a bomber pilot flying on the Douglas A-20. Following law school, he served as the head Judge Advocate on military bases all over the world, including numerous Strategic Air Command locations. Bill is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nancy, and their four children.


George Salo Stern (BA’59) died July 2. He was 77. George was a prominent family law attorney, active community leader and philanthropist, mentor, scholar, world traveler, sports fanatic, husband, father, Opa and friend to all. Born in 1937 in Brussels, Belgium, he immigrated with his parents to Nashville in 1941. George practiced law in Atlanta for 50 years, specializing for most of his career in family law at the practice he founded, Stern and Edlin. From 1998 to 1999, he was the national president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He was the treasurer of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers from 1991 to 2012, having founded the organization’s U.S. chapter. He was one of only 100 members of the American College of Family Trial Lawyers. In 2012 George received the Jack P. Turner Award from the family law section of the State Bar of Georgia for his outstanding contribution and achievement in the area of family law for the past 50 years. Most recently, the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers created the George S. Stern Achievement Award and honored him as the first recipient of an award that will recognize the recipient’s accomplishments in the practice of family law. His first wife died in 2000. He is survived by his second wife, Margie Okun, and a large extended family.


Paul Kent Harrell died June 19. Kent was a well-respected CPA partner with KraftCPAs and a community leader for numerous organizations. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife, Becky, and their three children.


W. Clary Lunsford died June 8. Clary graduated from Hendricks College before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He practiced with firms in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, focusing on tax and estate law. Clary is survived by his wife, Jean, and their three children.


Craig B. Benson succumbed to his battle with Pick’s disease May 10. A native of Memphis, Craig earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University. Craig focused on entertainment law, first working in house for Stax Records and then starting his own practice, where he specialized in publishing and music contracts. Craig is survived by his wife, Sarah Benson, and two daughters.


Thomas Francis Payne died June 20. He was 67. Tom was a professor at Hillsdale College in Michigan and at the University of Cincinnati. He was also in private practice in Cincinnati. Tom proudly served as an adviser to Alpha Tao Omega fraternity in Hillsdale and Cincinnati and to Semper Fi in Cincinnati. He was a member of Alliance Francaise. He is survived by his sister, Patricia A. Payne.