MidSouth History


For 40 years, the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute (“MSCLI”) has conducted annual CLE seminars on commercial and bankruptcy law topics. Long before the advent of mandatory continuing legal education in most states, including Tennessee, Nashville attorneys Richard Dance, Paul E. Jennings, and James L. Roberts conceived the idea of an educational seminar for bankruptcy and commercial lawyers. They were motivated, in part to provide a local alternative to the Southeastern Bankruptcy Law Institute, but primarily in reaction to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, which repealed the then existing substantive law on bankruptcy and replaced it with the Bankruptcy Code. Later, John H. Bailey, III, Thomas P. Kanaday, Jr., Bill Lincoln and Tom Sherrard joined the effort, each of whom contributed $1,000 of their own funds as seed money. On March 30, 1979, MSCLI was incorporated as a Tennessee not-for profit “to cultivate the study of the law, conduct educational programs on various aspects of the law… , publish and distribute educational materials, facilitate the administration of justice, elevate the standards of the legal profession and do all things reasonably convenient thereto.”

The inaugural MSCLI seminar was held in downtown Nashville on September 27 and 28, 1979. Professor James J. White, co-author of Uniform Commercial Code, headlined the program. Over the years, the seminar has featured notable speakers such as Neal Batson, Vern Countryman, David Epstein, Jonathan M. Landers, Robert K. Rasmussen, and Robert S. Summers.

Throughout its history, the MSCLI board of directors, made up of attorneys from across the state of Tennessee, has been responsible for producing the seminar. Currently, members of the board serve staggered, five-year terms. The MSCLI has no staff. Members of the board are grouped into committees that take responsibility for all aspects of the seminar, from picking up speakers at the airport to seeking approval for CLE credit. Until 2001, when the materials were bound for the first time, the program committee chair had the responsibility to stuff the notebooks given to each registrant with the seminar materials.

Past Presidents of Mid-South Commercial Law Institute

Jeffrey W. Maddux 2018-2019
Donald (Don) M. Wright 2017-2018
Courtney Gilmer 2016-2017
Robin Bicket White 2015-2016
Brian Sellers 2014-2015
Michael E. Collins 2013-14
Ronald G. Steen, Jr. 2012-2013
W. Neal McBrayer 2011-12
John H. Rowland 2010-11
N. Sue Van Sant Palmer 2009-10
Kimberly C. Swafford 2008-09
J. Michael Winchester 2007-08
Barbara D. Holmes 2006-07
B. Gail Reese 2005-06
Richard C. Kennedy 2004-05
Randal S. Mashburn 2003-04
Beth Roberts Derrick 2002-03
David E. Lemke 2001-02
Bruce C. Bailey 2000-01
Shelley D. Rucker 1999-00
Katherine Simpson Allen 1998-99
William Crutchfield, Jr. 1996-97
Larry Stewart 1997-98
Bradley A. MacLean 1995-96
William L. Norton, III 1994-95
Rhea Bucy 1993-94
E. Franklin Childress, Jr. 1992-93
John C. McLemore 1991-92
Craig V. Gabbert, Jr. 1989-90
John H. Bailey, III 1988-89
Lawrence R. Ahern, III 1987-88
Stephen W. Ramp 1987 (Partial Term)
Paul E. Jennings 1985-86
James R. Kelley 1983-85