Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 2, 2021

Judge McVeagh cracks the ABA’s top 40

The American Bar Association recently honored Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Alex McVeagh as one of its 2021 On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers.

Each year, the ABA recognizes 40 young lawyers across the nation who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community service.

“I’m humbled to accept an award few Tennessee lawyers have received,” McVeagh says. “But I’m even more grateful that the American Bar Association choose to recognize the innovative work my colleagues on the bench and in the bar are doing, as well as the work partner organizations like Hamilton County Drug Recovery Court, Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Chattanooga and Tennessee Bar associations are doing.”

Former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed McVeagh to the bench in 2017, making him one of the youngest judges in Tennessee’s history.

Still the state’s youngest judge, McVeagh helped found and continues to preside over Hamilton County’s misdemeanor drug recovery court. Outside the courthouse, McVeagh serves as the president of the Chattanooga Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, as the East Tennessee governor of the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and as the Tennessee young lawyer delegate to the ABA House of Delegates.

Many in Hamilton County appreciate McVeagh’s out-of-the-box thinking and innovative leadership, says Commissioner David Sharpe, who adds, “Integrity, honesty and leadership, particularly as a judge, as well as innovative thinking with an eye on the future, set Judge McVeagh apart from many others.”

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, McVeagh earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt University. Before taking the bench, McVeagh worked as a litigator at Chattanooga-based Chambliss Law.

“What a lot of people don’t fully appreciate about Alex is his incredible work ethic. When you combine that with his innate talent and charisma, you have a recipe for success,” says attorney Jeff Granillo, a shareholder at Chambliss.

Before moving to Chattanooga, McVeagh worked as head research analyst and law clerk for the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee and as analyst and legislative liaison for the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference.

As Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson noted, “As an analyst to the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee, Alex was a key contributor to the development of public policy affecting the judiciary. His intellect, legal insight, calm temperament and work ethic were apparent to the members of the Senate then, and, as a general sessions judge, they are apparent to the public today.”

In 2018 and 2021, the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed McVeagh to serve on its Access to Justice Commission. During this time, McVeagh helped to start an online dispute resolution pilot program with Erlanger Hospital and Legal Aid of East Tennessee designed to assist health care providers and patients in resolving outstanding medical debt before a lawsuit is filed.

McVeagh also serves on the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Technology Oversight Committee, where he helped draft standards for electronic filing in courts throughout Tennessee and regularly reviews applications from jurisdictions across Tennessee seeking to implement electronic filing in their courts.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee also noted McVeagh’s positive impact on Hamilton County and the state and appointed him to serve on his Criminal Justice Reform Task Force, which studies policies and possible solutions to reduce nonviolent jail populations and criminal recidivism and to increase reentry programs for eligible offenders.

The Tennessee legislature turned some of the task force’s recommendations into law in 2021.

The Chattanooga Bar Association has honored McVeagh in the past as both its Volunteer of the Year and Young Lawyer Volunteer of the Year for his pro bono work and past service on the board of Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

McVeagh has organized Hamilton County’s high school mock trial competition for many years and continues to help coordinate numerous clinics, including expungement clinics and clinics that provide free estate planning documents to military veterans, police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

Source: Chattanooga Bar Association