More than four decades. That is how long Nashville-based attorney Jim Creecy educated students at Nashville School of Law. Whether it was legal writing, accounting for lawyers, or tax law, Creecy approached his teaching duties with professionalism, care, and dignity for 42 years.
He also enjoyed it immensely, before announcing his retirement in 2018.
“Teaching at NSL has been a big part of my professional career,” he said. “It allowed me to give back some.”
Creecy was born in Athens, Alabama, and grew up in Pulaski, Tennessee, where he attended Giles County High School. He thought of law as an appealing profession even back in those days.
After graduating high school, he went on to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he was an accounting major.
After college, Creecy worked at an accounting firm in Atlanta for one year, where he passed the Certified Public Accounting exam. He then decided to increase his career opportunities by adding a law degree and enrolled in Vanderbilt Law School, graduating in 1974.
During law school, he also clerked at the local law firm of Stephenson, Lackey & Holman. It was there Creecy forged his first bonds with Nashville School of Law, as named partners at his law firm included the School’s dean, J.G. Lackey, and Property instructor Tom Holman.
Upon graduation, the firm offered him a position and he had a general civil practice with an emphasis on real estate work. He then transitioned to the Attorney General’s office, where he worked for more than 30 years. He held a variety of positions during his tenure, including assistant attorney general in the tax area, senior assistant, deputy attorney general, associate chief
deputy, and then chief special counsel for litigation.
“The practice of law has its peaks and valleys,” Creecy said. “The law is a lot more creative than accounting. It is similar to a chess game where you have to anticipate what the other side is going to do. It is also intellectually stimulating.”
Even longer than his tenure at the Attorney General’s office was his time teaching at the School.
“Dean Lackey called me in 1976 and asked if I would teach legal research and writing,” Creecy recalled.
“The stalwarts of the Nashville bar were there—Harlan Dodson, Sr., Judge Henry Todd, Judge Ben Cantrell, Tom Shriver, Ervin Entrekin, Clay Bailey, Jack Butler and others,” he said with a reverent tone. “I was in awe to be associated with these great lawyers.”
In his early years, the school was located in the YMCA building downtown.
“It was a bare-bones facility. There were not a lot of frills and thrills back then,” said Creecy. “We had 130 first-year students and I remember people smoking in class. It was a different world then.”
Through the years, he used a varied approach in pedagogy.
“I was never a hard taskmaster, but I expected my students to be prepared,” he said. “I heard some interesting excuses through the years.”
“He was knowledgeable, considerate, and dedicated to his students,” says Martin Giner (1986). “Mr. Creecy kept up with many of his students, even after they graduated. He has been an ambassador for the school all these years.”
In 1986, Judge Joe C. Loser, Jr. became dean of the School and Creecy followed along as Dean Loser led NSL to its new location on Armory Oaks Drive.
“It is a great facility,” he says. “I applaud Dean Loser for his vision in moving the school forward. “NSL has changed a lot during the years and I have enjoyed watching it grow.”
As a veteran teacher and attorney, Creecy offers advice to those following in his footsteps.
“Work hard, as law is not a place for a lazy person,” he said. “Your professional reputation is an asset that you have and you don’t want to squander it. Always do the best that you can.”
He also stresses that young lawyers must learn to accept defeats as well as victories.
“You are not going to win every case,” he says. “You will learn that the outcome of a case is not the end of the world.”