Judge Gary Wade
Gary R. Wade has had a prolific legal career including private practice, public service, judicial appointments on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court and a deanship. He retired from the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law in June of 2020 and joined Knoxville law firm London Amburn shortly thereafter. Wade joined LMU Law in 2015 and successfully shepherded the school from provisional American Bar Association approval to full approval on March 1, 2019. Under his leadership, the institution has celebrated several milestones, including the highest first-time bar pass rate in school history in July 2016, being named a “Best Value Law School,” a “Top Law School for Small Firms” and the “Top Law School for Bar Preparation” by National Jurist; and a 100% overall employment rate for May 2015 graduates, including 94% full-time, long-term employment and 82% in J.D.-required employment. On the most recent administration of the Tennessee bar exam, LMU graduates earned an 88.9% first-time bar passage rate, ranking it first among Tennessee’s six law schools and placing it more than 20 percentage points higher than the state average. Wade served as a judge for the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals for 19 years, serving as presiding judge for eight of those years. During this time, he co-founded Friends of the Smokies, the highly successful support organization for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Wade to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2006. He served the state’s highest court until his retirement in 2015. During his tenure as Chief Justice, he led the re-election efforts of the court despite a partisan challenge by then Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey. In 2017, Wade was highlighted as one of the top 100 from a total alumni population of more than 370,000 University of Tennessee graduates as The Tennessee Alumnus magazine celebrated its 100th continuous year of publication. Wade’s profile was featured alongside such notable individuals as NFL player Peyton Manning, astronaut Scott Kelly, former Tennessee governor Winfield Dunn, and business leader Jim Clayton. In his tenure on the bench, he served as President of the Tennessee Judicial Conference and was named Appellate Judge of the Year in Tennessee and in the Southeast by the American Board of Trial Advocates. The Knoxville Bar Association honored Judge Wade for Judicial Excellence for his leadership in the re-location of the Supreme Court Building in Knoxville to the former U.S. Post Office and Courthouse on Main Street. Wade earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a law degree from UT. Following law school, he engaged in private practice in Sevierville, where he was elected mayor in 1977 and served five successive terms before his appointment as judge.