KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary R. Wade has accepted an offer to become dean and vice president of the Lincoln Memorial University-John J. Duncan, Jr. School of Law (LMU-DSOL).
“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. It has been a cause he has championed throughout his career,” LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk said. “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.”
LMU President B. James Dawson introduced Wade as dean to LMU-DSOL faculty on Monday at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference in Boca Raton, Florida.
Wade announced on Friday that he would be retiring from the Tennessee Supreme Court in September following nine years on the state’s highest court. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2006. Wade was elected by his fellow justices to serve a two-year term as chief justice in September 2012. He was re-elected to the Supreme Court last year in a retention election.
“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.
“That objective is as important today as it was 118 years ago. I have been honored to serve Tennesseans in local and state government for the last forty 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. In my role with the Supreme Court, I have monitored the progress of the school 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. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve LMU as Dean and to build upon the solid foundation at its college of law.”
Wade served the Tennessee judiciary for 28 years as a judge, justice and chief justice. He was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1987, where he also served as a presiding judge from 1998 until 2006. Prior to his judiciary appointment, 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.
“Justice Wade’s distinguished career on the bench would make him a desired candidate at any schoolof 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.”
Wade attended the University of Tennessee, and received a bachelor of science in 1970. He received his J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1973.
Throughout his career, Wade has received honors including the Tennessee Bar Association Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award (2014); Appellate Judge of the Year, Southeastern Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (2004); Judicial Excellence Award, Knoxville Bar Association (2004); East Tennessee Regional Leadership Award (2006); and the United States Department of Interior Citizens Award for Exceptional Service (2007).
Wade has served on dozens of community and legal organization boards and commissions and was instrumental in the formation of the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, of which he was a co-founder and past president.
Wade and his wife of 44 years, Sandy, have three children and four grandchildren.