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George T. Lewis


Buck Lewis leads Baker Donelson's Appellate Practice group.

Professional Biography


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 is a Supreme Court Rule 31 listed General Civil Mediator. 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 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 2010, Mr. Lewis was named to the Honor Roll of the American Bar Association Torts and Insurance Practice Section. In 2014, ABA President William Hubbard appointed him to the American Bar Association Pro Bono and Public Service Committee. In 2016, ABA President Linda Klein appointed Mr. Lewis Chair of the Committee.

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.

Case Studies
Representative Matters
  • Represented 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.

  • 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, with the result that the state supreme court reversed the trial court, holding that class actions were not allowed under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

  • 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. 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.

  • Defended a global automobile and truck manufacturer with respect to a nationwide class action alleging defective brake assemblies on one of the manufacturer's truck lines. After we removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act and filed a motion to dismiss under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and common law fraud, the 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 a favorable settlement after 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.

  • Obtained a ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court holding that a physician cannot properly enter into a contingent fee arrangement to serve as an expert witness for his/her patient.

  • Obtained summary judgment in favor 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.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Larry Wilks Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, University of Tennessee College of Law (2012 – present)
  • Recipient – American Bar Association President's Citation for Leadership (August 2019)
  • Founder, Institute for Professional Leadership, University of Tennessee College of Law
  • Recipient – Best of the Bar Award, Memphis Business Journal (2018)
  • Recipient – Lewis Donelson Award (2017)
  • Recipient – Virginia State Bar Pro Bono Hero (2017)
  • Recipient – Reese Smith Service to Pro Bono Award, the National Association of Pro Bono Professionals (2016)
  • Recipient – The Justice Janice M. Holder Award for Access to Justice, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (2014)
  • Member – Chair of University of Tennessee College of Law Dean's Circle (2016 – present)
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee National Alumni Association 2013, Alumni Service Award
  • Recipient – American Bar Association President's Citation for Leadership (August 2013)
  • Fellow – American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • Fellow – Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
  • Member – Legal Services Corporation National Disaster Taskforce (2018 – 2019)
  • Member – American Academy of Alternative Dispute Resolution (admitted 2017)
  • 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 Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service (Chair of working groups for ABAFreeAnswers.org, a project to launch a 50-state pro bono website)
  • Tennessee Bar Association (President, 2008 – 2009); President – Tennessee Legal Community Foundation (2009 – 2010)
  • 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)
  • Life Member – Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • Recipient – University of Tennessee College of Law Outstanding Service Award (1998)
  • Recipient – Tennessee Supreme Court Outstanding Service Award (1996); Member – Tennessee Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure (1999 – 2009); Electronic Discovery Committee (2007)
  • Recipient – Memphis Legal Secretaries Association Boss of the Year Award (1994)
Speaking Engagements
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (November 2019)
  • Speaking Engagements on Legal Issues

  • "Good Faith, Bad Faith, and, Oh Yeah, Federalism and Separation of Powers" (University of Tennessee College of Law, April 2019 and Tennessee Bar Association, May 2019)
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (November 2018)
  • "Mediation, Arbitration, and Class Actions," Knoxville Bar Association (April 2016)
  • "Recent Amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure and Evidence," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (February 2016)
  • "The Intersection of Class Actions and Arbitration Agreements," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (February 2016)
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (November 2015)
  • "Defending Against Class Actions In And Out Of Arbitration," Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club (April 2015)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration" (February 2015)
  • "Class Actions, Arbitration, And Elements Of An Effective Arbitration Agreement," Association of Corporate Counsel, Tennessee Chapter (February 2015)
  • "Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Recusal Rule and Rules of Appellate Procedure," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January 2015)
  • "Tennessee Motions To Dismiss And Motions for Summary Judgment By Rule And By Statute," Memphis Area Paralegal Association (January 2014)
  • "The Pros and Cons of Arbitration in Tennessee," Memphis Bar Association (July 2013)
  • "Taking and defending Rule 30(b)6 depositions," Tennessee Bar Association (April 2013)
  • "The Pros And Cons Of Arbitration," University of Tennessee College of Law CLE (November 2012)
  • "Judicial Recusal and Interlocutory Appeals," Tennessee Bar Association statewide webcast (June 2012)
  • Speaking Engagements on Issues Affecting the Legal Profession

  • "ACC Knoxville Breakfast and CLE" (May 2018)
  • Keynote Speaker – "The Legacy of Tennessee Exceptionalism," TBA Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala (March 2018)
  • Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Academy, full day leadership workshop (November 2014 – 2017)
  • "Legal Issues Confronting Inside Counsel" (October 2017)
  • "Finding Your Passion and Defining Your Legacy," Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law final retreat (June 2017)
  • "Why Lawyers Do Pro Bono," University of Memphis Law School (March 2017)
  • "The National Pro Bono Web Site, ABAFreeLegalAnswers, Born and Raised in Tennessee," Leo Bearman Inns of Court (November 2016)
  • "Retention and Production of Electronically-Stored Information," Baker Donelson seminar on legal issues confronting inside counsel (November 2016)
  • "Finding The Leader In The Mirror," Greater Memphis Paralegal Association (October 2016)
  • "The Soul of a Hero," Virginia State Bar annual Access to Justice luncheon (June 2016)
  • "Leadership and Leaving a Legacy," Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Program (June 2016)
  • "The new national pro bono web site 'ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org,'" ABA Equal Justice Conference (May 2016)
  • "Empowering the Next Generation of Pro Bono Lawyers: Innovative Technologies," American Bar Association (May 2016)
  • "The ABA National Pro Bono Web Site Project," Tennessee Bar Association Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala (March 2016)
  • "Leadership Characteristics, Habits, and Styles," Tennessee Bar Association Leadership Law Opening Retreat (January 2016)
  • "Why Now Is the Time to Add an Interactive Pro Bono Web Site to Your Access to Justice Toolkit," National Conference of Bar Presidents Opening Plenary Session (January 2016)
  • "The History, Achievements, and Strategic Planning Of the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission," Virginia Access to Justice Commission (September 2015)
  • "Launching A Virtual Pro Bono Legal Clinic: The OnlineTNJustice Model," American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference (May 2015)
  • "Leadership – Characteristics, Barriers and Leaving Legacies," Tennessee Bar Association (April 2015)
  • "Keynote Address to Entering Class," University of Tennessee College of Law (August 2013)
Press Releases


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


  • 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

One of the most brilliant individuals I have met in my lifetime, blessed with a photographic memory.

Senior Vice President over Emerging Risk at a financial services company

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