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I can think of no finer honor for a lawyer than to stand before a jury of peers and tell them how they can do something positive for the community by finding in favor of a deserving client.
Chris Gilreath believes that the practice of law is very personal. When a client comes to talk to about a problem, it is often because they have suffered a devastating human loss. Chris believes first and foremost that the law should work to protect human life and personal freedoms. His experience as a leader and lawyer reflects his commitment to preserving the rights of people in the face of attacks by greedy corporations and insurance companies, who would give away the rights of people to increase their profits.
His training began long before attending law school. As the son of the founder, Sidney Gilreath, Chris grew up working at the firm, witnessing first hand how juries of ordinary citizens held wrongdoers accountable. At the age of fifteen, Chris began assisting attorneys and clients with their cases at Gilreath & Associates. This early experience helped instill in Chris a strong sense of right and wrong, as well as a strong appreciation for how our system of civil justice works. "People want and need to know that we have a strong system of civil justice for times when others violate the law and cause people harm," says Gilreath. "As civil justice attorneys, we are charged with responsibility for enforcing people's rights by presenting their case in court. I can think of no finer honor for a lawyer than to stand before a jury of peers and tell them how they can do something positive for the community by finding in favor of a deserving client."
Chris' leadership has been evident in his actions. In college, Chris was honored with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to one senior man and one senior woman at Rhodes College who most exemplify leaders who give back to their community and leave making the college a better place. While attending Cumberland School of Law, Chris was selected to serve on the Cumberland Honor Court, a judicial body instilled with the responsibility of prosecuting hearings for law students who have violated the school's honor code, the primary means by which discipline was administered.
His leadership continued after graduation. Before attending law school, Chris went to work in Washington, D.C. on the U. S. Senate Budget Committee. Then, Chris worked for Congressman Jim Cooper, representing the 4th Congressional District for Tennessee. After returning home, Chris quickly began working within the legal community to protect the civil justice system from attack. In 2000, Chris was elected to the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Association for Justice, a position has held ever since. Likewise, Chris has worked to ensure that new classes of lawyers starting their careers do so with an appreciation of the fundamental fairness provided by our system of trial by jury. From 2003 to 2006, Chris served as an officer of the New Lawyers Division of the American Association of Justice, serving as Chairperson in 2005. From that position, Chris directed projects and programs on a national level, designed to train young lawyers how to work in the public interest and preserve equal justice under law, receiving the NLD's Soaring Eagle Award in 2006. Chris then served on the Board for the American Association for Justice until 2008, including one year on the Executive Committee. At home, Chris was also appointed to serve on the Knox County Election Commission by Governor Phil Bredesen, the local body in charge of administering and certifying elections. These experiences have provided Chris with a multitude of opportunities to demonstrate in positive ways how attorneys working to preserve rights can have a positive impact on their community.
Chris' understanding of the issues raised by seriously injured clients is reflected in the fact that family is a strong priority. As a devoted husband to his wife Crystal, and their two sons, Andrew and Samuel, Chris has worked to balance devoting time to clients, but also devoting time to raising a family. "Whether or not my sons ever step foot in a courtroom, I want them to understand and appreciate that the law, used for the right reasons, is the ultimate protector of liberty in our society. I wanted them to grow up knowing that their father was someone who wanted to help people. Without the ability to right wrongs, we cannot honor the deeds of those in our community when they are hurt by the actions of others. Representing people when they are hurting the most, and trying to make things right, allows me to give back to the community in more ways than I could ever imagine."
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