Justice Gary R. Wade to Deliver the Commencement Address at LMU Law Graduation on Thursday

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Justice Gary R. WadeLincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) will hold its Commencement Exercises at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium in downtown Knoxville. The Honorable Gary R. Wade, retired Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and retired vice president and dean of LMU Law, will deliver the commencement address.

Seventy-seven degree candidates will participate in the ceremony as the University confers Doctor of Jurisprudence degrees to the Class of 2021. Several members of the Class of 2020 also will participate as the 2020 Commencement was canceled due to the pandemic, To ensure social distancing, each graduate will be permitted to bring two guests, and the ceremony will be live streamed (here) to share with other friends and family.

For the first time, the ceremony will feature a graduate speaker who will bring remarks on behalf of the graduating class. Linda Hutsell, of Maryville, Tennessee, has the honor of being selected by here classmates as the first graduate speaker. LMU Law Vice President and Dean Matthew R. Lyon will present the University’s Lincoln Lawyer Awards for Leadership, Character and Service to three deserving graduates who were selected by the LMU Law faculty.  

Justice Wade has had a prolific legal career including private practice, public service, judicial appointments on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court, and a deanship. He retired from LMU Law in June of 2020 and joined the Knoxville law firm London Amburn shortly thereafter.

He has been involved with LMU Law since its founding, first as a member of an advisory board before taking the helm as dean in 2015 and successfully shepherding the school from provisional American Bar Association approval to full approval in February 2019. Under Wade’s leadership, LMU Law celebrated several milestones, including the highest first-time bar pass rate in school history in July 2016; being named a “Best Value Law School,” a “Top Law School for Small Firms” and the “Top Law School for Bar Preparation” by National Jurist; and a 100% overall employment rate for May 2015 graduates. On the February 2020 administration of the Tennessee bar exam, LMU graduates earned an 88.9% first-time bar passage rate, ranking it first among Tennessee’s six law schools and placing it more than 20 percentage points higher than the state average.

Wade served as a judge for the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals for 19 years, serving as presiding judge for eight of those years. During this time, he co-founded Friends of the Smokies, the highly successful support organization for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Wade to the state’s highest court in 2006. He served in the Tennessee Supreme Court until his retirement in 2015. During his tenure as Chief Justice, from 2012 to 2014, he successfully led the re-election efforts of the court despite a partisan challenge to the incumbent justices.

Wade earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a law degree from the University of Tennessee. Following law school, he engaged in private practice in Sevierville, where he was elected mayor in 1977 and served five successive terms before his appointment as judge.

LMU Law will host an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12 to give graduates an opportunity to share their soon-to-be alma mater with family and friends. Faculty and staff also will be on hand to meet and great degree candidates and their guests.

The Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU Law is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DSOL, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 5303 or visit us online at www.lmunet.edu/law.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or email at [email protected].

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