Matikke, Smith and Maples Honored with 2020-21 Lincoln Lawyer Awards

Dean Lyon presents Lincoln Lawyer Award to Chantel Matikke

Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) Vice President and Dean Matthew R. Lyon presented the 2020-21 Lincoln Lawyer Awards to Chantel Matikke, Thatcher Smith and Aubrey Maples during the LMU Law Commencement Ceremony May 13.

Traditionally awarded during the fall semester to third- or fourth-year students, the Lincoln Lawyer Awards recognize distinguished students in their final year of study for leadership, character and service. The award winners were selected from a pool of nominees by the LMU Law faculty. The awards honor students who best demonstrate Lincoln’s ability to withstand adversity and move forward in the face of frustration; to be a strong leader yet listen to different points of view; to acknowledge errors and learn from them; and to share the credit for success and the blame for failure.

Matikke, of Nashville, was awarded the Lincoln Lawyer Award for Leadership, which recognizes the student who demonstrates outstanding leadership, scholastic performance and integrity. Matikke served in many leadership roles throughout law school. She served as the executive symposium for the LMU Law Review and successfully organized the 2021 Law Review Symposium: Disaster Law in the Age of COVID. Matikke also served as vice president and treasurer for the Black Law Students Association, the president and treasurer of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, the president of the Christian Legal Society, a student representative of the library committee and a board member of the Mock Trial Team. She was a founding board member of the Latin X Student Association and served as an LMU Law Peer Leader. Matikke is part of the National Advisory Committee for Equal Justice Works and was part of the 2020 class of the TBA-Diversity Leadership Institute. She has volunteered at the Legal Aid of East Tennessee expungement clinic and Wills for Warriors events. Matikke has worked with the staff of a statewide nonprofit, Think Tennessee, in creating civic and economic opportunities for all Tennesseans. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

“Chantel is a first-generation American and first-generation law student, who has been a leader and mentor to many incoming first-year law students, as well as a mentor to first-generation college students during the National Black Law Students Association Conference,” Lyon said. “Her kind-hearted, compassionate, dynamic personality and her leadership in the many organizations with which she is affiliated have provided so many other with inspiration, encouragement and, practical guidance. I am proud to know her and she is going to make a phenomenal lawyer and public servant.”

Julia Dulko, John Ganem, Jessica Gardner, Samantha Hardin, Joshua Leach, Maples, Megan Noble, Alexandria Patterson, Rachael Sams, Smith, Jesse West and Isaac Westling were also nominated for the Lincoln Lawyer Award for Leadership.

Thatcher SmithThe Lincoln Lawyer Award for Outstanding Character was bestowed upon Smith, of Chattanooga. The award selected by the faculty, recognizes a student who exhibits outstanding generosity of spirit and selflessness, and who has the habit of doing what is right, regardless of personal interests or outside pressures. Smith excelled academically, and as a role model both in and out of the classroom as a mentor to the first-year law students. In his final year of law school, Smith served as a senator in the Student Bar Association and as a Dean’s Fellow, assisting first-year students in learning their doctrinal material and developing good study skills. He participated in numerous activities with the Peer Leaders including faculty discussion series, orientations, open houses and Lawlapalooza. For the past two-years Smith has served as one of two student representatives to the Academic Integrity Committee.

“Having served with him on the academic integrity committee, I can vouch that he represented his fellow students well,” Lyon said. “After the bar exam, he is planning to work at a firm in his hometown and he is going to make an exceptional lawyer.”

Other nominees for the Lincoln Lawyer Award for Character included Cameron Buckner, Dulko, Ashley Hamilton, Hardin, Jordan Hutchins, Kyle Johnson, Maples, Matikke, Noble, Evan Pease, Camryn Suggs, Hailey Tackett and West.

Aubrey MaplesMaples, of New Market, Tennessee, viewed the commencement ceremony virtually and was awarded the Lincoln Lawyer Award for Service at her home. The award recognizes a student who has a keen dedication to legal activism, diversity and confronting social issues. Maples, a flex-time student, worked full time throughout her four years of law school. She has served as a training specialist for the City of Knoxville Police Department for many years, developing presentations and programs related to public safety. Despite her work commitments, Maples found time to serve as a Senior Dean’s Fellow and faculty research assistant. She was inducted into Alpha Chi and served as vice president of the Immigration Law Society.

“Aubrey’s can-do attitude and service-oriented nature help others push past their feelings of vulnerability to develop their own personal and professional resiliency,” Lyon said. “She has repeatedly demonstrated her desire to serve others to change the narrative of equity, justice and diversity at our law school, our community and beyond. Her empathy and dedication to others will make her a zealous advocate for her clients and a tribute to our profession.”

Other nominees for the Lincoln Lawyer Award for Service were Dulko, Wesley Eke, Ganem, Hardin, Stephanie Herren, Matikke and Nicole Turbinton.

Each of the award winners were presented with a commemorative watch featuring Abraham Lincoln and a certificate.

The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of 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 Law, call 865.545.5303 or visit us online at

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