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U of M Law Alumni Will Honor Pillars of the Local Legal Community Aug. 13

For release: July 11, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843.

Six people will be recognized for their contributions to the law and to the community, and another will be honored as a Friend of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, when the School’s alumni chapter hosts its 2011 Pillars of Excellence recognition program Saturday, Aug. 13th, at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis.

The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by a dinner and the program at 7 p.m.  The fee is $600 for a table of eight, or $75 per person.  For the Class of 2011, the fee is $35 per person.  Reservations should be made by August 5th.  They can be made online at

More information is available from Alumni Coordinator Wendy Sumner-Winter at 901-678-1562 or at

This year’s Pillar honorees are Leo Bearman Jr., David E. Caywood, W.J. Michael Cody, Robert L. Green, John Paul “Jack” Jones, and the Hon. Russell B. Sugarmon.  Charles Tuggle Jr. is the feted Friend of the law school.

Leo Bearman Jr.
Leo Bearman Jr.
Leo Bearman Jr. earned an A.B. degree at Yale in 1957 and his law degree from Harvard in 1960.  He then practiced law in Memphis with his father, Leo Bearman, until 1980, when the Bearman firm merged with the Heiskell Donelson firm.  Today, that firm is known as Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz.

Bearman earned a reputation as an outstanding courtroom lawyer, a distinction that resulted in his being named one of the 50 top attorneys in Memphis and among the top 100 in Tennessee.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and he is a charter Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Association and a life member of the Fellows of the American Bar Association.  He has served as president of the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association, and he is an adjunct professor of law for the University of Memphis.

Bearman is a past president of Temple Israel, he is a recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and he has been named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Memphis.

David Caywood earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt University.  He has practiced law since being admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1962.  The past 35 years he has worked primarily in the area of divorce and family law.  Over the past two years, he became a certified mediator and arbitrator through the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the preeminent family law organization in the nation.

In 1968 Caywood received the Newspaper Guild’s Citizen of the Year Award, based largely on the work he did to help end the city’s garbage strike that took place that year.

Caywood is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and he is a Master of the Leo Bearman Sr. American Inn of Court.  He has been listed in Best Lawyers of America for the past 24 years.

Michael Cody
Michael Cody
Michael Cody earned a B.A. degree from Rhodes College and a law degree from the University of Virginia.  He began work with Burch Porter and Johnson in 1961 and today is a partner in that firm.  He served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee from 1977 to 1981 and as Attorney General of the State of Tennessee from 1984 to 1988.  He also served as an at-large member on the Memphis City Council from 1975 to 1977.

Cody co-chaired the Governor’s Commission on Ethics in Government in 2005 and the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus in 2010.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American, Tennessee, and Memphis Bar Associations.  He served on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility from 1990 to 1992.

He has argued four cases before the United States Supreme Court.  He was named Alternative Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year in 2011 by “Memphis Best Lawyers,” and he received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Academy of Mediators. 

He is past president of the Southern Association of Attorneys General and is a former chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Crime Commission.  He was co-chair for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity Task Force in 2008.  He has taught at Rhodes, LeMoyne-Owen, and the University of Memphis, and served as president of the Board of Trustees for Lausanne Collegiate School in 2007.  He was also the president of Memphis in May in 1996.

Robert L. Green
Robert L. Green
Robert L. Green, though a native of Kansas, earned his undergraduate degree and his law degree at Tulane University in New Orleans.  Between his first and second years in law school, however, he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy and served aboard the U.S.S. Mindoro from 1951 to 1954.  After graduating from law school, he continued to serve in the Naval Reserves for 30 years, retiring at the rank of captain.

Green began his law career in Memphis with the late Charles L. “Captain” Neely, and he worked with Mr. Neely until the older man’s death in 1963.  While practicing law, Green also served on the Board of Law Examiners from 1962 to 1981, eventually becoming president of that body.  In addition to belonging to the American Bar Associations, he served as secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and president of the Memphis Bar Association.  He is a Fellow of the Tennessee Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is also a member of the Tennessee Defense Lawyer Association and the International Association of Defense Counsel.

Green is an Emeritus member of the American Inns of Court, and he is an active member of the “Grey Knights,” a group of older attorneys who work on Saturdays with Memphis Area Legal Services to assist indigent persons in the community.  Green received the Judge Jerome Turner Lawyer’s Award in 2005

John Paul �Jack� Jones
John Paul “Jack” Jones
John Paul “Jack” Jones combined the careers of lawyer and newspaper publisher.  A native of San Antonio, Texas, he grew up in Memphis with his uncle, Paul Tudor Jones.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, where he also edited the school newspaper.  After earning his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1948, he returned to Memphis to take over the family business, The Daily News, following his uncle’s death.

Jones specialized in transportation law, while serving a 35-year tenure as publisher of The Daily News.   He served as president of the Tennessee Press Association and as national chairman of the American Court and Commercial Newspaper Group.  In Memphis, he serves as a member of the Memphis Literacy Council and as a board member of the Benjamin C. Hooks Library. 

Jones is an avid basketball fan, so his son, Paul Tudor Jones,  honored him with a gift of $35 million to the University of Virginia for a basketball arena that carries Jack Jones’ name, and is known to UVA fans as “The Jack.”  Jones himself founded the Jack Jones Shootout, which showcases talented high school basketball players from around the United States and lets them play with and learn from pro basketball players.

Locally, Jones sponsored the 2010 season of Calvary and the Arts in memory of his late wife, Dottie; and he has established the John Paul Jones Journalism Scholarship at the University of Memphis.

Judge Sugarmon
Judge Sugarmon
Judge Sugarmon went from Rutgers University, where he earned his B.A. degree in 1950, to Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1953.  After serving in the U.S. Army for two years, including a tour of duty in Japan, he studied finance in graduate school at Boston University, then began a private law practice in Memphis in 1956.  He eventually became a founding partner of Ratner, Sugarmon, Lucas, Willis, and Caldwell.

Sugarmon also entered politics early in his career, first in Memphis, then statewide.  In 1959 he was the first African-American to make a serious race for a major city office, that of public works commissioner.  Though he lost that race, he ran for the Tennessee Senate in 1966 and won.

From 1976 to 1987 he was a referee in the Memphis Juvenile Court System.  In May 1987 he was appointed to the General Sessions bench.  He was elected to that post in 1988, again in 1990, and again in 1998.

He has been active in the NAACP and the ACLU, and has been honored by both groups for his efforts on behalf of those organizations and their constituencies and for his service to Memphis.

Tuggle was chairman of the law school’s capital campaign steering committee, as funds were being raised for the school’s move into the former U.S. Customs House downtown.  He has been executive vice president and general counsel of First Horizon National Corporation, the parent company of First Tennessee Bank and FTN Financial, since 2008.  He practiced law with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz for 30 years and was chairman and CEO of that firm for 10 years.  He joined FTN Financial in 2003 and served as chief risk officer until he moved into his current position with First Horizon.

Tuggle is a graduate of Rhodes College and holds a juris doctorate from Emory University School of Law.

Recipients of the Pillars of Excellence Award are chosen by a committee made up of all past presidents of the University of Memphis Law Alumni Chapter.  To be chosen, a person must be living at the time of selection; must have been admitted to the practice of law for more than 45 years; must have given significant service to the legal profession, including membership in bar associations and participation in bar association activities; must have given significant service to the community, including involvement in civic and charitable organizations; must have served in leadership roles in the legal and civic communities; must have made other significant contributions to the practice of law; and must be generally recognized among the Memphis Bar to possess the highest legal skills and ethical standards.

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