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Bracy retiring after 30+ years as BPR disciplinary counsel

(News release from Tennessee Supreme Court)

In 1976, when the Tennessee Supreme Court tapped Lance Bracy to be disciplinary counsel for the newly-created Board of Professional Responsibility (BPR), 4,433 attorneys were practicing law in the state. During the next 31 years, Bracy, who will retire May 1, has watched that number swell to 18,400.

“As chief disciplinary counsel for the Board of Professional Responsibility, he has shaped its direction, organization and, most of all, given the office respectability and stature among the citizens of the state,” Chief Justice William M. Barker said. “Lance has a unique combination of sound judgment, common sense and a real knowledge of the ethical principals which govern the legal profession.”

Governor Phil Bredesen offered Bracy “personal thanks” for his years of service.

“Tennessee has benefited greatly from his dedication to the Board of Professional Responsibility,” the governor said. “For 31 years, he has been at the forefront of improving Tennessee’s legal landscape for attorneys and clients. His proficiency and expertise have been a tremendous asset to our citizens, and we are grateful for his efforts.”

The BPR, an arm of the Supreme Court, is comprised of nine lawyers and three non-lawyer members. Its responsibilities include investigating complaints against attorneys and disciplining those who violate professional rules.  

While the BPR was created to aid the Supreme Court in supervising the ethical conduct of attorneys, the board’s duties have expanded to include other programs and services. Along with those changes, Bracy’s responsibilities and staff also have grown.

Improvements during Bracy’s tenure have included an ethics opinion service for lawyers; a consumer assistance program; summary suspension of lawyers for threats of irreparable public harm; mandatory notification of attorney trust account overdrafts; a BPR website; and professional enhancement programs.

“I claim no credit for the development of these programs,” Bracy said. “Members of the board, hearing committee members, the staff and the Supreme Court all contributed to their development. I only assisted.”

Justice Janice M. Holder, who serves as the Supreme Court’s BPR liaison, praised Bracy for his “exemplary service.”

“It has been of immeasurable worth to the bench, bar and citizens of this state,” Holder said. “We are fortunate to have had the benefit of his expertise and dedication.”

During his tenure with the BPR, Bracy has assisted the board in drafting and publishing more than 140 formal ethics opinions, 600 advisory ethics opinions, and responded to more than 12,000 informal ethics inquiries by attorneys.

From its inception through June 30, 2006, the board received 36,883 complaints, resulting in 162 disbarments, 398 suspensions, 479 public censures and 2,793 private reprimands or admonitions.  Tennessee attorneys have contributed $28.4 million in annual court assessments to finance the board’s programs, with no contributions from other sources.

“For the past 30 years I have been extremely blessed with a wonderful opportunity to pursue one of my lifetime missions of service to others,” Bracy said. “My visions and expectations while working for the board have been exceeded, but only because of the outstanding efforts of a wonderful staff of co-workers and the faithful support of exemplary board members.”

Now, he said, “the time has arrived for fresh ideas and visions.”

A job posting for Bracy’s position can be found on the court system web site at www.tncourts.gov.

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