Jessica Karmasek Jul. 30, 2015, 9:30am


HARROGATE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) - Retiring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade will become the new dean of a Knoxville-area law school in the fall.

Lincoln Memorial University announced Tuesday that Wade, who announced his retirement from the state’s high court last week, accepted the offer to become dean and vice president of the John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law.

“I have known Gary Wade for a lot of years, so I know that he has a passion for ensuring access to justice in rural and underserved areas,” LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk said. “It has been a cause he has championed throughout his career.”

DeBusk continued, “There is certainly a synergy between that cause and LMU’s mission to serve Appalachia. We founded the Duncan School of Law to train lawyers in the region to serve their communities, and I look forward to the good that will come with Justice Wade’s leadership.”

Wade was introduced as dean to the law school faculty Monday at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

He will be introduced to the student body on the first day of classes, Aug. 11, but won’t officially join the school until September. His retirement from the Supreme Court is effective Sept. 8.

“In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln confided to a Union Civil War General that he would like to acknowledge in a meaningful way East Tennessee’s loyalty to the United States. By 1897, General Oliver Howard made good on the promise, founding Lincoln Memorial University in Claiborne County with the basic mission of offering higher education to the people of the Southern Appalachians,” Wade said in a statement. “That objective is as important today as it was 118 years ago.”

He continued, “I have been honored to serve Tennesseans in local and state government for the last 40 years and now look forward to investing the remainder of my professional career in the future of LMU’s Duncan School of Law in Knoxville.”

Wade said he has monitored the law school’s progress since 2007.

“The remarkable success of their law school graduates on our bar exam and the grant of ABA accreditation last year is a tribute to the administration, faculty and staff,” he said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve LMU as dean and to build upon the solid foundation at its college of law.”

Wade, 67, has served as a judge, justice and chief justice in the state for nearly 30 years.

He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006 by then-Gov. Phil Bredesen. He was elected by the court to serve a two-year term as chief justice in September 2012.

Before joining the Supreme Court, he served on the state Court of Criminal Appeals. He was appointed in 1987, and served as presiding judge from 1998 until 2006.

Prior to his appointments, Wade operated a private law practice. He was elected mayor of Sevierville in 1977, where he served for a decade. He also served as the city attorney for Pigeon Forge from 1973 to 1987.

Wade earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee in 1970 and received his law degree from UT in 1973.

“Justice Wade’s distinguished career on the bench would make him a desired candidate at any school of law across the country,” LMU President B. James Dawson said. “It goes without saying that LMU is proud that he has joined the faculty and will now lead the law school.”

LMU’s law school has been provisionally approved by the American Bar Association, or ABA.

Those enrolled at a provisionally accredited law school and who subsequently graduate are deemed graduates of an ABA-accredited law school.

However, a provisionally approved law school may apply for full approval no earlier than two years after receiving provisional approval and must obtain full approval within five years after receiving provisional approval.

According to LMU, the earliest its law school may apply for full accreditation from the ABA is December 2016.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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