Judge Gary Wade Retires from LMU Law

Judge Gary R. Wade

Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law (LMU Law) Vice President and Dean Gary R. Wade announced plans to retire in September 2019. Tuesday, June 30, will mark the end of his tenure at LMU Law, although he will continue to be active in various volunteer roles.

“From day one, Judge Gary Wade has been a positive force within the law school,” said Dr. Clayton Hess, LMU president. “Evidence of this can be seen in the talented faculty he has assembled, the ambitious student body he has recruited and the successful LMU-trained lawyers practicing throughout the region. He was integral to LMU Law’s success in achieving full American Bar Association approval.”

Wade joined LMU Law in 2015 following his retirement from the Tennessee Supreme Court. That retirement lasted approximately eight hours before he was on campus at LMU Law. Wade 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.

Current Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Matthew R. Lyon has been named Wade’s successor and will assume his new role of vice president and dean on Wednesday, July 1. Lyon has served LMU Law since its founding, first as an adjunct before joining the faculty fulltime in 2011.

The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU Law is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU Law, call 865.545.5303 or visit us online at Law.LMUnet.edu.

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