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KNOXVILLE – Doug Blaze, dean of the College of Law at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is part of the new statewide Access to Justice Commission created by the Tennessee Supreme Court to help address the state’s growing civil legal needs crisis.

Doug Blaze
Doug Blaze
About one in five Tennesseans is living at or just above the federal poverty level and is therefore unable to afford even basic legal help with the myriad of civil legal problems they encounter.

The commission’s job is to develop strategies and solutions to help meet this legal needs crisis; to foster continued collaboration among the judiciary, access to justice organizations, bar associations and legal professionals; and to work to educate and focus the attention of the public and policymakers on this civil legal needs crisis so that all Tennesseans will be fully vested in solving this problem.

Blaze joined the UT College of Law faculty in 1993 as director of clinical programs. He was appointed dean in 2008.

He is a member and former chair of the Board of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and is also very active on various bar committees including the Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and the Knoxville Bar Association Access to Justice Initiative. Through the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, he conducts trainings in professional skills for law firms and legal service organizations around the country including trial skills training for Tennessee’s legal service program advocates at the annual Statewide Equal Justice Conference.

Blaze has received numerous honors and awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Prize from the University of Tennessee; the Bass, Berry & Sims Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench and Bar; the Harold Warner Outstanding Teacher Award; and the Carden Institutional Service Award. For his efforts to promote equal access to justice in Tennessee, Blaze received the B. Riney Green Award in 2003.

He received his law degree from Georgetown University.

The 10-member commission is chaired by Margaret Behm, a Nashville lawyer with Dodson, Parker, Behm & Caparella, PC, who has been a leader in the legal community in Tennessee. Other members are Kathryn Reed Edge of the law firm of Miller & Martin, PLLC; Francis S. Guess, executive vice president of The Danner Co.; George T. “Buck” Lewis of the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC; A. Gregory Ramos of the law firm of North, Pursell, Ramos & Jameson, PLC; D. Billye Sanders of the law firm of Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis, LLP; Maura Abeln Smith, senior vice president and corporate secretary of International Paper; the Rev. Frank Anthony Thomas of the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis; and Bill Young of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

Commission chairwoman Behm and member Lewis are UT Knoxville alumni.



Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)
Rebecca Rhodes, Administrative Office of the Courts, (615-741-2687 x164, Rebecca.Rhodes@tncourts.gov)