Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 5, 2021

Chattanooga Bar Foundation names 5 new fellows

The Chattanooga Bar Foundation Fellows welcomed five new members during the Chattanooga Bar Association’s 123rd annual meeting, held virtually Wednesday.

Joining this esteemed group were attorneys Robert Batson, Jr., the Hon. Kyle Hedrick, Barry Gold, Craig Smith and Ronald Wells.

Batson has practiced law in Chattanooga since 1968. He began as a sole practitioner and then served as assistant district attorney for five years before opening his own practice.

Batson had a general practice which consisted of divorces, auto accidents, criminal matters, wills, probates and products liability.

He graduated the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1965 with a degree in mechanical engineering before earning his Juris Doctor in 1968 from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

He is a member of the Chattanooga and the Tennessee Bar associations.

Batson attends First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, where he has served twice as chairman of the deacon council. He has also served on the board of Mustard Tree Ministries.

Over 20 years ago, Gideons International invited Batson to join the organization and distribute Bibles around the world. This volunteer role took him to the former Russian states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1999 and then to Thailand in 2005, placing Bibles in schools, hospitals and hotels.

Batson says he is the “proud parent” of two children – Laurel Batson Boles and Robert Batson, III – and the “especially proud grandparent” of five grandchildren ranging in ages from 8 to 24.

“It’s an honor to be selected as a Fellow, considering the great work the foundation has done in this community,” Batson says. “I want to thank those who thought to consider me.”

Gov. Haslam selected Hedrick to fill the vacancy as Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge in the Eleventh Judicial District Dec. 11, 2017. Hedrick was sworn into office two days later and has since been elected to serve the citizens of Hamilton County as Circuit Court judge.

“I have long admired the commitment of the Chattanooga Bar Foundation to the citizens of Hamilton County and look forward to joining in their service,” Hedrick says.

Hedrick graduated from David Lipscomb University in 1984 before earning his Juris Doctor from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1987. He also serves on the board of Bethel Bible Village.

Working in private practice for 30 years with various firms (Sid Gilreath & Associates; Caldwell, Heggie & Helton; Heiskell, Donelson, Bearman, Adams, Williams & Caldwell; and Ramer & Hedrick), Hedrick has focused on defense of medical malpractice claims, construction litigation, insurance litigation, personal injury litigation and family law litigation.

His practice has included not only bench trials before the circuit, chancery, juvenile, sessions and city courts, but also jury trials in both state and federal courts throughout Tennessee.

Hedrick’s appellate practice included appeals to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Tennessee Court of Appeals and an appearance before the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Hedrick has also served East Ridge, Collegedale and Red Bank as an administrative hearing officer. The city of Chattanooga selected him to serve as the administrative hearing officer, as well, but Haslam’s appointed came before he could serve.

For 12 years, Hedrick served as a youth minister and mentor to students. In addition, Hedrick and his wife of 36 years, Brenda, served as house parents for the Christian Student Center at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and mentored college students.

Hedrick and his wife are the parents of three grown children – Kaitlyn, Lance and Luke – and grandparents to Roman Hedrick and Josie Bouch.

They are active members of the Clear Creek Church of Christ in Hixson.

Gold is a founding partner in the law firm of McWilliams, Gold & Larramore, with more than 36 years of practice. Since 1983, he has been licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Georgia.

Gold received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia in 1983, where he was a member of the Moot Court Board and the National Moot Court Team, and was elected to the Order of Barristers.

Gold has focused on family law for more than 25 years. He twice chaired the Tennessee Bar Association’s Family Law section (2003-2004 and 2010-2011) and he was a member of the TBA’s Family Law Executive Committee and Family Law Code Committee for more than a decade.

He served as a member of the Tennessee Department of Human Services Income Shares Advisory Committee, and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission’s Pro Se Parenting Plan Form Subcommittee.

Legal Aid of East Tennessee named Gold’s firm the Pro Bono Firm of the Year in 2011, citing its “outstanding commitment to access to justice.”

Gold served as a hearing officer for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility from 2007-2013 and currently serves on the CBA’s Fee Arbitration Committee. He’s also co-chairing the CBA’s Family Law Section.

Gold is a frequent lecturer on family law and related topics before a variety of professional groups and organizations, including the CBA, the TBA, the National Business Institute, Private Dispute Resolution Services and others.

Mid-South Super Lawyers has selected Gold for inclusion seven times in the areas of family law and alternative dispute resolution.

“I’m pleased to be invited to become part of such an esteemed and respected group,” Gold says. “Our goal is to be of service, and I’m excited about that prospect.”

Smith is a member of Miller & Martin’s commercial department and chair of the firm’s bankruptcy and creditors’ rights practice group.

He represents a varied mix of clients, including financial institutions, manufacturers, commercial property management companies and landlords, and municipal and cooperative utilities.

Smith holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and Board of Advocates. He also is a graduate of UTC.

Since beginning his practice, Smith has been an active member of various professional organizations. With the CBA, he has served as the president of its young lawyers’ division, on its board of governors and as the association’s 2013 president.

In 2008, he was honored as the CBA’s Young Lawyer of the Year and received its President’s Award in 2011.

Smith is also a 2011 graduate of the TBA’s Leadership Law program and a member of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges’ NextGen Class of 2015.

Outside his practice, Smith enjoys participation in a variety of civic activities, including service on the boards for National Park Partners and Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Chattanooga Area.

He has also served as den leader for his sons’ Cub Scout pack and coach for his daughters’ soccer teams.

Smith is married to Emily. They have four children: Sawyer, Jackson, Georgia and Gilly.

“It’s a great honor to be selected to join the Fellows,” Smith says. “So many of its members have been role models for me, representing the best examples of our local bar. To be included among their ranks is humbling, and I hope I can provide the same mentorship to younger attorneys as I move forward in my own practice.”

Wells is the senior partner of Robinson, Smith & Wells, where he has worked his entire career of more than 35 years.

Wells graduated from UTC in 1981 with a degree in political science and earned his law degree from the UTK in 1984. He was admitted to the Tennessee bar the same year.

Wells focuses his practice on general civil defense spanning multiple areas. He handles cases involving motor vehicle accidents and defends cities, towns – or their elected officials or employees – in various types of cases.

A large part of Wells’ practice involves defending civil rights cases brought against municipalities and their elected officials or employees.

Wells also handles premise liability cases in both residential and commercial settings and defends product liability cases.

More recently, his practice has evolved to include serving as a mediator in all types of cases.

Wells practices in state and federal court.

He is a member of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Federal and American bar associations, as well as a member of the American Inns of Court, the Defense Research Institute and the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association. His Martindale-Hubbell AV rating is “preeminent.”

Wells and his wife, Gina, have two sons (Bryan and Aaron) and three grandsons (Bennett, Elliott and Jack).

He enjoys practicing law with his son Aaron, who joined the firm in 2017.

Hal North, chair of the Fellows, says Batson, Hedrick, Gold, Smith and Wells were excellent candidates with strong resumes of service to the local bar association and the community.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to recognize five outstanding individuals who have provided many years of highly beneficial service to our community.”

The CBA Fellows serve several roles as an organization, including promoting and improving the legal profession, elevating the ethical standards of the bench and bar, improving relations between the members of the legal profession, the judiciary and the public, providing scholarships and charitable giving.

Source: Some information from the CBA