NASHVILLE – Justice Cornelia A. Clark will become the second woman in the state’s history to serve as chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court when she is sworn into office at 10 a.m. on Sept. 1 at the historic courthouse in Franklin, Tenn.
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen by my colleagues on the Court to serve as chief justice,” Clark said. “I consider it a privilege to serve on the Supreme Court with such talented members who are dedicated to the law and public service. I look forward to working with the Court as we continue our efforts to improve access to justice and strengthen the public’s confidence in the judiciary.”
Chief Justice Janice Holder will administer the oath of office to Clark, who was elected by the Court to serve a two-year term as chief justice. The ceremony will also feature remarks by the other members of the Supreme Court, representatives from the intermediate appellate courts, and judges and clerks from all levels of the judicial branch.
Clark was appointed to the Supreme Court in September 2005 and was elected a full eight-year term in August 2006. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Clark was appointed director of the Administrative Office of the Courts in May 1999. She held this position until she was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Clark was appointed circuit court judge of the 21st Judicial District in October 1989 after practicing law for 10 years at Farris, Warfield & Kanaday, now Stites & Harbison. She was elected to a full eight-year term in 1990, and was re-elected in 1998.
The incoming chief justice earned her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in 1971 and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University in 1972. Before attending law school, Clark taught high school history and government for four years. In 1979, Clark received her juris doctorate from Vanderbilt University School of Law, where she served as a member of the editorial board for Vanderbilt Law Review.
On June 24, Clark was announced as one of seven Nashville women who will be inducted into the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement. Earlier this year, she was named Appellate Judge of the Year by the Southeastern Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In 2005, Clark received the Williamson County Bar Association’s inaugural Liberty Bell Award for promoting a better understanding for the rule of law and encouraging civic resopnsibility.
Clark is a former board member of the Marion Griffith Chapter of Lawyers’ Association for Women, the Nashville Bar Association and Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. She is a past president of the YWCA of Nashville and founding member of the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women. Clark currently serves on the board of directors of the United Methodist Publishing House.
Clark is a native of Franklin, where her family has lived for eight generations. An active member of the community, Clark served as Franklin City Attorney and as a board member of the Williamson County-Franklin Chamber of Commerce. Clark is a life-long member of First United Methodist Church in Franklin, where she has previously served on the Board of Trustees and as chair of the Administrative Board and the Site Selection and Building Committee.