Nashville School of Law

American Inns of Court Honors NSL Dean William C. Koch, Jr.

American Inns of Court Honors NSL Dean William C. Koch, Jr.

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William C. Koch Jr. receives A. Sherman Christensen Award

Nashville School of Law President and Dean William C. Koch, Jr. will receive the prestigious A Sherman Christensen Award at the Supreme Court of the United States during the American Inns of Court Foundation’s 2023 Celebration of Excellence on Saturday, October 28.

Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the American Inns of Court inspires the legal community to advance the rule of law by achieving the highest level of professionalism through example, education, and mentoring. 

Today there are nearly 400 chartered American Inns of Court in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Tokyo. There are nearly 30,000 active members nationwide encompassing a wide cross-section of the legal community, including federal and state judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students.

A member of the American Inns of Court since 1990, Koch joined the board of trustees in 2000 and served as president of the organization from 2018 to 2020. Locally, he was instrumental in founding Tennessee’s second Inn, the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court in Nashville, in 1990 and served as the Inn’s president for more than three decades. He was an organizing member of both the Belmont University College of Law Inn and the Nashville Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law Inn and was instrumental in creating six other Inns in Tennessee.

The A. Sherman Christensen Award, named after the founder of the first American Inns of Court, recognizes an Inn member who has provided exceptional leadership to the American Inns of Court movement at the local, state, or national level.

“Bill has a legacy of service to our Inn that I am humbled to follow. His dedication to the success and vibrancy of our Inn through his leadership has required countless hours, but just as importantly, he has set a tone of fellowship and professional support and fostered community among our members that is immeasurable,” said Harry Phillips Inn of Court President and NSL Professor of Sales and Secured Transactions Chancellor Anne Martin.

“I am a beneficiary of his mentoring provided through Inn leadership, and his interest in my success as a lawyer and judge. Bill’s attention to each and every member of our Inn is palpable at every meeting and in every interaction I have had with him about Inn operations. He is, quite simply, the heart and soul of the Harry Phillips Inn.”

“I cannot think of a person more deserving of the A. Sherman Christensen Award from the American Inns of Court. For decades, Dean Koch has breathed life into the Inns of Court experience in Nashville, and indeed throughout our State. There is no one who has done more for the civility of the legal profession in Tennessee than Dean Koch, and much of that work he has done through the Inns of Court. I know that the entire bar will join me in congratulating Dean Koch on this prestigious, and appropriate, honor,” said Bill Harbison, former NSL Professor of Contracts and partner at Sherrard Roe Voigt Harbison.

NSL President and Dean William C. Koch, Jr. and Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons, Ret. / Photo Courtesy of Kevin Kennedy

In 1997, Koch started teaching Constitutional Law at NSL. Then, in 2014, he was asked to lead the School, retired from the Tennessee Supreme Court, and became NSL’s President and Dean.

“I think it is very fitting that Dean Koch received this prestigious award. His name is synonymous with the success of the impact of the Inns of Court. I am delighted that he is receiving the award. It is good for him, and it is good for our law school. It is a huge compliment to his dedication, professionalism and those things that make him a great Dean,” said Aubrey Harwell Jr., NSL Board of Trust Chair.

Koch served as a Justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 2007 to 2014. He was a judge on the Tennessee Court of Appeals from 1984 to 2007, serving as presiding judge of the middle section from 2003 until 2007. He also served as Counsel to Governor Lamar Alexander, Commissioner of Personnel, and Deputy Attorney General.

He has chaired the Tennessee Trial Court Vacancy Commission since 2018. Koch is also a member of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. He currently serves on the advisory council of the Tennessee Innocence Project and the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center. He was board chair of the United Way of Greater Nashville in 2003 and 2004 and is now an emeritus trustee. He has been a Trustee of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee since 2005 and is a Trustee of Cumberland University.

Koch received an undergraduate degree in English from Trinity College, earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School, and earned a Master of Laws degree in judicial process from the University of Virginia School of Law.

American Inns of Court 2023 Celebration of Excellence - October 28, 2023

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