Many significant benchmarks in the development of professional ethics in
Tennessee have resulted from the stewardship and legacies of Justices
Drowota, Anderson and Birch.
The first, and likely the most significant, development occurred in 1980, the
year that Justice Drowota was elected to the Supreme Court. This is the year the
Court empowered the Board of Professional Responsibility (Board) to issue ethics
opinions. The concept of providing guidance to lawyers about ethical dilemmas
came about due to the compounding increase of ethical complaints, which had
been increasing at a rate of approximately 15 percent each year since the Board’s
inception in 1976. The objective was to preemptively assist lawyers in identifying
and resolving ethical issues and thereby avoid complaints being filed.