The Nashville Bar Association (NBA) held its annual meeting and banquet on December 8, 2016, when it installed officers and board members for the coming year and also presented awards to local members who have distinguished themselves in their service.

The John C. Tune Public Service Award recognizes members who make outstanding contributions to the greater Nashville area community while distinguishing themselves as practicing attorneys. The award is the highest award presented at the NBA Annual Banquet. Due to the nature of the award, it is not necessarily given annually, but only when there is someone deserving of the award.

The 2016 Tune Award was presented to both Abby Rubenfeld and Bill Harbison recognizing their outstanding contributions to the community. Most recently and most notably, the pair distinguished themselves by representing the Tennessee plaintiffs in the marriage equality fight.

In response to the award, Metro Nashville Councilmember-at-Large Bob Mendes made the following statement:

On December 8, 2016, Abby Rubenfeld and Bill Harbison received the John C. Tune Public Service Award. The Tune Award is the highest honor given by the Nashville Bar Association. It is given annually to a Nashville lawyer who has shown the highest degree of dedication to the lawyer’s work and to making our community a better place.

Rubenfeld and Harbison received the Tune Award for their work fighting for marriage equality. In 2013, they filed a lawsuit asking the State of Tennessee to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who had married legally in other States. Two years later, they were before the Supreme Court of the United States and, on June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decided that the right to marriage by same-sex couples is protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Nashville has had a role in national civil rights cases before, and the Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell decision is as important as any of them.

Rubenfeld and Harbison both have built successful legal careers while being actively engaged in our Nashville community. Their work together for marriage equality is in the finest tradition of the Nashville bar – excellent legal work coupled with a passion for making our community a better place. The Nashville Bar Association is proud to have Rubenfeld and Harbison as our 2016 Tune Award winners.

Additionally, the NBA recognized several other members:

The CLE Excellence Award was given to Judge Philip Smith and Judge Phillip Robinson in recognition of exceptional service to the NBA’s Continuing Legal Education Program. It recognizes NBA members who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to the NBA’s mission to provide cutting edge, quality continuing legal education to improve the knowledge and practice skills of lawyers.

The Nashville Bar Journal Award for Contributor of the Year went to Kimberly Faye and Caroline Hudson, recognizing them as NBA Editorial Committee members who continually make the Nashville Bar Journal a source of pride for the NBA. The Author of the Year award was presented to Jim Thomas for his excellent write-up on the 2016 Law Day theme, Reflections on Miranda’s 50th Anniversary.

The YLD President’s Award was given to Kelly Donley and Lauren Spahn, whose dedication and efforts for the NBA Young Lawyer’s Division have raised the overall profile of the Nashville Bar Association.

The YLD Enterprise Award was presented to Mollie Gass and Peter Malanchuk who have both advanced the charitable purposes of the NBA Young Lawyer’s Division through a new initiative, program, or activity.

The Emeritus Award—recognizing those who have reached 50 years of law practice and of honored service as a member of the Bar—was presented to eight members: Hon. Robert S. Brandt, David M. Bullock, Hon. Ben H. Cantrell, H. Fred Ford, Sr., Hon. Bill E. Higgins, David Young Parker, Earl J. Porter, Jr., and Hon. J. Randall Wyatt.

The NBA President’s Awards were given to the following members for their outstanding contributions to the NBA: Andrea Perry, Hon. Joe Binkley, Edward D. Lanquist, Jr., Tom Lawless, and the 14 Producers of the Blanton CLE Program.

Finally, The Legal Aid Society recognized James A. Beaks with their Pro Bono Volunteer Award and Waller, LLP with the Pro Bono Leadership Award.





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