George T. Lewis III

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First Tennessee Building
165 Madison Avenue
Suite 2000
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
T: 901.577.2256
F: 901.577.0749

George T. Lewis III
 

Best Lawyers Award Badge

George T. Lewis III is a shareholder in the Memphis office and chairs the Appellate Practice Litigation Group. A former president of the Tennessee Bar Association and the recipient of numerous professional awards, Mr. Lewis is a litigator whose focus is solving complex business, personal injury, insurance coverage, Consumer Protection Act, health care and class action litigation problems for his clients.  He also has extensive experience in securities and governmental law. Mr. Lewis is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator, and in 2013 the American Arbitration Association added Mr. Lewis to its panel of arbitrators.

Mr. Lewis' service to the legal profession is extensive. He has held numerous leadership positions in his profession and community. He served as president of the Tennessee Bar Association and president of the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation and was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to chair the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission. He has also served as president of the Memphis Bar Foundation and as chair of the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross. In 2006, the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission recommended Mr. Lewis to the governor for appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

In 1991, the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed him to the Board of Directors of Tennessee's Lawyers Fund for Client Protection. In 1999, the Supreme Court appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Rules of Trial and Appellate Procedure. In August of 2009, he was appointed to the TBA Judicial Conduct Committee. In 2014, ABA President William Hubbard appointed him to the American Bar Association Pro Bono and Public Service Committee.

Mr. Lewis is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and Mid-South Super Lawyers across numerous areas of litigation and appellate law. In 2007 and 2010, Mr. Lewis was named to the Honor Roll of the American Bar Association Torts and Insurance Practice Section.

From 1980 to 1981, Mr. Lewis served as law clerk for the Honorable Frank Drowota, Tennessee Supreme Court. While in the joint J.D./M.B.A. program at the University of Tennessee, he served as the vice chair, and then chair, of the Moot Court Board.  He was also a member of the Securities Law Moot Court Team and Labor Law Moot Court Team.

Recent Representative Matters

  • Served as lead counsel for a publicly traded national bank in an American Arbitration Association proceeding in which an adverse New York bank sought repurchase of approximately 500 home equity loans totaling approximately $30 million in unpaid balances. The case involved allegations relating to borrower fraud, mortgage insurance and violation of underwriting guidelines relating to appraisals, income verification, loan to value and debt to income ratios, reserves and borrower applications.
  • Successfully defended an automobile dealership in a putative class action seeking certification of approximately 14,000 class members challenging a charge imposed by the dealership under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and Common Law Fraud. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court, holding that class actions were not allowed under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and that this case, which was based upon oral representations, was not suitable for class certification under the common law.
  • Won a nine-day jury trial for a national property and casualty insurance carrier. The plaintiff was a local physician's widow who sued the carrier for bad faith and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act for denying a claim for benefits following an extensive fire in her home, which she claimed was caused by electrical problems. The defense presented cause and origin experts and electrical engineers who testified the fire was caused by arson. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant in one hour.
  • Represented a global automobile and truck manufacturer with respect to a nationwide class action alleging defective brake assemblies with respect to one of the manufacture's truck lines. The client removed the case from state to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act and filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and Common Law Fraud. Following the filing of the motions to dismiss and supporting memoranda, plaintiffs filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal.
  • In a case of first impression in the Sixth Circuit, obtained ruling establishing the standard of review to be used by a District Court in the Sixth Circuit in reviewing a decision by a United States Bankruptcy Court.
  • Obtained favorable settlement in case where a Chancellor held that a Chancery Court could properly review whether a state complied with procedural due process in awarding its first private prison contract.
  • Served as lead counsel in case before the Tennessee Supreme Court in which the Court held that a physician could not properly enter into a contingent fee arrangement to serve as an expert witness for his/her patient.
  • Obtained summary judgment in representation of a state automotive association against allegations that all automobile dealerships in the state illegally passed on the business tax to purchasers of vehicles in the state.
  • On appeal of a matter originally tried by another firm, obtained a reduction in judgment to $500,000 from the original $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The decision was significant on several issues including the definition of a trade secret, the damages available under Rule 65 for wrongfully obtaining a temporary injunction, and the extent to which damages must be reasonably specific in order to be sustained as a remedy.

Publications on Legal Issues

  • Co-author – "Litigation Alert For Businesses With Tennessee Operations," Baker Donelson Litigation Alert (April 23, 2015)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration," Litigation Counsel of America 2013 Litigation Commentary and Review
  • ABA Counsel of Appellate Lawyers' Appellate Practice Book, author of Tennessee chapter, "The Insider's Guide to the Tennessee Appellate Courts," ABA Appellate Judges Conference (2010)
  • "Tennessee Supreme Court Holds Class Actions Are Not Allowed Under Tennessee Consumer Protection Act," Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry Business Insider (November/December 2008)
  • "Recent Developments in Insurance Coverage Litigation," Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal (Spring 2008)
  • "Are Automobile Financing and Other Credit Transactions That Comply with the Federal Truth-In-Lending Act Subject to Private Rights of Action Under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act?," 71 Tennessee Law Review 695 (2004)
  • "Supreme Court Decides Arbitration Agreements Between Physicians and Patients are not Per Se Void as Against Public Policy," Health Care News (June 1996)
  • "Arbitration and Mediation Clauses in Health Care Contracts" in the Nashville Medical News, Vol. 5, No. 7 (July 1994)

Publications on Issues Affecting the Legal Profession

  • As President of the Tennessee Bar Association, Mr. Lewis authored the President's Perspective column, which is published monthly in the Tennessee Bar Journal. To read these columns, please go to "President's Perspective."
  • "Adding On-line Pro Bono to Your Access to Justice Toolkit," ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange (March 2015)
  • "New Toll-free Line Offers Free Legal Information, Referrals," The Memphis Lawyer, Volume 30, Issue 1 (February 2013)
  • "Access To Justice Is Main Priority," co-author with Elizabeth Todaro, Tennessee Bar Journal (January 2013)
  • "350 Thousand Reasons To Be Proud of Memphis Lawyers," Memphis Lawyer (Jan/Feb 12)
  • "Budget Cuts Make Lawyer Support for Campaign for Equal Justice Critical for Memphis Area Legal Services," The Bar Bulletin, Memphis Bar Association newsletter (December 15, 2011); see also "MALS Expands Fundraising Amidst Cuts," The Daily News (December 16, 2011) 
  • "MALS' Campaign for Equal Justice: Working to Meet the Challenge Ahead," Memphis Lawyer (Jan/Feb 11)

Speaking Engagements

Mr. Lewis is a frequent speaker on topics of legal issues and issues affecting the legal profession. Below are his most recent.

  • Presenter – "Launching A Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic: The OnlineTNJustice Model," American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference (May 2015)
  • Presenter – "Leadership Grit, Everyday Leadership and Leaving A Legacy," University of Tennessee College of Law (April 2015)
  • Presenter – "Leadership—Characteristics, Barriers and Leaving Legacies," Tennessee Bar Association (April 2015)
  • Presenter – "Defending Against Class Actions In And Out Of Arbitration," Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club (April 2015)
  • Presenter – "The 2013 Legal Needs Study, 2014 Economic Impact Study, and Why Lawyers Should Make Pro Bono A Priority In Their Professional Lives," University of Memphis Law School (April 2015)
  • Presenter – "Class Actions, Arbitration, And Elements Of An Effective Arbitration Agreement," Association of Corporate Counsel, Tennessee Chapter (February 2015)
  • Presenter – "Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Recusal Rule and Rules of Appellate Procedure," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January 2015)
  • Presenter – "Rules of Professional Conduct and 2014 Legal Needs Assessment," Memphis Bar Association (December 2014)
  • Presenter – "Finding the Leader in the Mirror," Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (September 2014)
  • Presenter – "Access to Justice in Tennessee," National Judicial College (March 2014)
  • Presenter – "Tennessee Motions To Dismiss And Motions for Summary Judgment By Rule And By Statute," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January 2014)
  • Presenter – "Taking and defending Rule 30(b)6 depositions," Tennessee Bar Association (April 2013)
  • Presenter – "The Pros And Cons Of Arbitration," University of Tennessee College of Law CLE (November 2012)
  • Presenter – Tennessee Bar Association Annual Health Law Forum (October 2012)
  • Presenter – "Judicial Recusal and Interlocutory Appeals," Tennessee Bar Association statewide webcast (June 18, 2012)
  • Keynote Address to Entering Class, University of Tennessee College of Law (August 2013)
  • Presenter – "Pro Bono for Inside Counsel: Online Tennessee Justice," Memphis Chapter, American Corporate Counsel Association (August 2013)
  • Presenter – "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration in Tennessee," Memphis Bar Association (July 2013)
  • Presenter – "Tennessee's state wide interactive pro bono website and toll free number : OnlineTNJustice.org and ALEGALZ," ABA Access To Justice Conference, St. Louis (May 2013)
  • Co-presenter – "Access to Justice in Tennessee," with Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder, University of Tennessee College of Law (October 2012)
  • Keynote Speech – Tennessee Bar Association Equal Justice University (September 2012)
  • Presenter – "The New Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct: What Lawyers and Judges Need to Know," Tennessee Bar Association annual convention and Tennessee Judicial Conference annual meeting (June 8, 2012)
  • Presenter – "Amendments and Proposed Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure, Appellate Procedure, Evidence, Professional Conduct and Judicial Conduct," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (August 17, 2011) 
  • Presenter – "Interlocutory Appeals," Tennessee Bar Association Appellate Practice CLE "Supreme Court Boot Camp," (October 5, 2010)
  • Presenter – "Tennessee Insurance Law Update," Barristers Educational Services (December 29, 2009)
  • Presenter – "Electronic Discovery Under The New Tennessee Electronic Discovery Rules," Memphis Bar Association (November 10, 2009)
  • Presenter – "Appellate Practice," 25th Annual Tennessee Bar Association Academy (December 16, 2008)
  • Presenter – "Appellate Practice from Trial to Oral Argument," Memphis Bar Association (April 2008)
  • Presenter – "Securing the Advantage in the Defense Costs Tug of War," American Bar Association Torts and Insurance Litigation Section's 16th Annual Insurance Coverage Litigation Program (February 2008)

Professional Honors & Activities

  • Chair – Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission (2012 – 2014); appointed Chair by Tennessee Supreme Court (March 2012)
  • Larry Wilks Distinguished Practitioner In Residence, University of Tennessee College of Law (2012 – present)
  • Recipient – The Justice Janice M. Holder Award for Access to Justice, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (2014)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee National Alumni Association 2013 Alumni Service Award (2012 – present)
  • Recipient – American Bar Association President's Citation for Leadership (August 2013)
  • Fellow – Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
  • Member – The Trial Law Institute
  • Chair – American Red Cross Mid-South Chapter, Memphis, Tennessee (June 2012 – June 2014); Outstanding Board Member of the Year (2014) 
  • Recipient – American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Public Service Honor Roll Award (2009 and 2010)
  • American Bar Association (Chair of the Technology Subcommittee of the Pro Bono and Public Service Committee; Chair of working group for ABALegalAnswers.org, a project to launch a 50-state pro bono website)  
  • ABA House of Delegates, 2000 – 2006; 2010 – 2015 
  • Tennessee Bar Association (President, 2008 – 2009; Vice President, 2006 – 2007 and 2007 – 2008; Board of Governors; Operations Committee Chair; Chair, Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair; Judicial Campaign Ethics Committee; Task Force on Judicial Conduct; Executive Committee, Appellate Practice Section)
  • Memphis Bar Association (former member Board of Directors and Board Executive Committee)
  • President – Tennessee Legal Community Foundation (2009 – 2010)
  • Board Member – Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society
  • National Conference of Bar Presidents; Southern Conference of Bar Presidents  
  • Past President – Memphis and Shelby County Bar Foundation
  • Recipient – Memphis Bar Association W. J. Michael Cody Pro Bono Award (2008)
  • Recipient – Inaugural Baker Donelson Pro Bono Impact Award (2014)
  • Recipient – Baker Donelson's Pro Bono Award (2010)  
  • Chair – Memphis Area Legal Services fundraising drive (2011); Co-Chair (2010) 
  • Life Member – Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • Former Member – Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission (1991 – 1994)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee College of Law Outstanding Service Award (1998)
  • Recipient – Tennessee Supreme Court Outstanding Service Award (1996); Certificate of Appreciation (2014) 
  • Fellow – American Bar, Tennessee and Memphis Bar Foundations  
  • Member – Tennessee Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure (1999 – 2009); Electronic Discovery Committee (2007) 
  • Former Member – Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission (1994 – 2001); Chair (1995 – 1996); Vice Chair (1994 – 1995) 
  • Member – University of Tennessee College of Law Alumni Council (since 1994); Chair (1994 – 1998)
  • Former Vice Chair – Tennessee Lawyers Fund for Client Protection (1991 – 1996)
  • Leadership Memphis (1995)
  • Recipient – Memphis Legal Secretaries Association Boss of the Year Award (1994)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee College of Law Alumni Leadership Award (1988)

Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1980
  • U.S. District Court, Western and Middle Districts of Tennessee, 1980
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1980
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1980

Education

  • University of Tennessee, J.D., 1980
  • University of Tennessee, M.B.A., finance concentration, 1980
  • University of Tennessee, B.S. in Business Administration, 1976