Bivins, a Kingsport native, was chosen for his decades of service to the legal profession in Tennessee, including his unwavering support of Access to Justice and indigent representation reform and most recently his leadership of Tennessee courts during the pandemic.
“I thank Chief Justice Bivins for his continued attention to the challenges facing the people of Tennessee, especially over the last few months,” TBA President Sarah Sheppeard said. “His leadership and willingness to listen to concerns of the legal community facilitated innovation and creativity in continuing the administration of justice across our state.”
Bivins is a 1986 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law. He received a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in 1982 from East Tennessee State University, with a major in political science and a minor in criminal justice. Prior to his appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Bivins served on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and as a circuit court judge for the 21st Judicial District of Tennessee.
Bivins is a past president of the Tennessee Judicial Conference, and he served on the Board of Judicial Conduct and its predecessor, the Court of the Judiciary. Bivins also previously served on the Tennessee Judicial Evaluation Commission. He is a member of the John Marshall American Inn of Court, having served as president from 2003-2008, and the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Tennessee Bar Foundation, and the Nashville Bar Foundation. He is also a former member of the Williamson County Commission.
The Drowota Award is given to a judge or judicial branch official of a federal, state or local court in Tennessee who has demonstrated extraordinary devotion and dedication to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice as exemplified by the career of former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Drowota, the award’s first recipient. Thanks to a donation from Drowota and a matching gift from the Frist Foundation, the award allows the recipient to direct a gift of $1,000 to the charity of his or her choice. This year’s award will be presented on June 18 during TBA’s Virtual Annual Convention.
The TBA is the largest professional association in the Volunteer State. Founded in 1881, it provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.