Nashville School of Law

Matt Sweeney


Nashville School of Law
4013 Armory Oaks Drive
Nashville, TN 37204

Matt Sweeney is a recently retired business trial and appellate lawyer, mediator and arbitrator. Mr. Sweeney, who was initially trained in white collar criminal defense, has broad trial and appellate experience in complex, class action and shareholder derivative litigation in state and federal courts throughout the United States, with a concentration in franchising and related antitrust, securities, fraud and fiduciary duty, consumer protection and employee benefits cases. Mr. Sweeney is a former Circuit Court Judge in Nashville and was Presiding Judge of the district’s Trial Courts. As a judge, he tried more than 150 jury trials during the four years he served on the bench. When appointed to the court, Matt Sweeney was the youngest trial judge in Tennessee. He has served as a mediator and arbitrator in hundreds of cases throughout the southeast. Mr. Sweeney also counseled attorneys on questions of legal ethics and professional responsibility of lawyers. He has taught trial practice as an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School and civil procedure as a lecturer at the Nashville School of Law and is currently an adjunct professor again at Nashville School of Law and at Belmont University College of Law;  he has been  a regular speaker and panelist in continuing legal education programs on trial practice, ADR, and ethics and professionalism.

Firm, Company, or Court

  • Nashville School of Law Lecturer, Business Associations (2023-)
  • Belmont University School of Law, Adjunct Professor, Practical Issues in the Judiciary (2023-)

Juris Doctor

  • Vanderbilt University School of Law (1976)


  • Seton Hall University, B.A. (1973)

Prior Employment

  • Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. (2004-2023). Mediator/Arbitrator, and Business Trial/Appellate lawyer and the Firm’s Conflicts Counsel
  • Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP (2000-2004). Business Trial/Appellate lawyer and Mediator/Arbitrator
  • Tuke, Yopp & Sweeney, PLC (1994-2000). Business Trial/Appellate lawyer and Mediator/Arbitrator
  • Farris, Warfield & Kanaday (1990-1994). Business Trial/Appellate lawyer
  • Circuit Court Judge, Davidson County, Tennessee (1986-1990)
  • Dearborn & Ewing (1981-1986). Business Trial/Appellate lawyer
  • State of Tennessee, Department of Correction, (1979-1981). Staff Attorney
  • Neal & Harwell (1976-1979). Litigation Associate

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court for the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Business Associations

Professional Honors & Activities

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® since 2005 in the areas of Bet-the-Company, Commercial and Securities Litigation, Arbitration, Mediation, Administrative/Regulatory Law, Franchise Law
  • Listed in Mid-South Super Lawyers since 2010
  • Listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers (2005, 2006)
  • Listed in “The Best of the Bar,” Nashville Business Journal (2008)
  • Member – Nashville Bar Association (Board of Directors, 1993-1995; co-chair, Ethics and Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, 1986-1988; chair, Professionalism Committee, 1990 when drafted Ethics Handbook)
  • Member – Tennessee Bar Association (member, Juvenile Justice Committee, 1980-1984 when drafted Rules of Juvenile Procedure; member, Professional Standards Study Committee, 1995-1999 when drafted the Rules of Professional Conduct; vice-chair, Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, 2000-2006; chair, Committee on the Judiciary, 2015-2022)
  • Member (former) – American Bar Association – Judicial, Litigation, Dispute Resolution Sections; Forum Committee on Franchising; former member, Standing Committee on Judicial Independence
  • Member – National Judicial College Board of Trustees (2011-2019; chair 2015-2016)
  • Member – Hearing Committee, Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary District V (2013-2020)
  • Chair – Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee (1995-1997)
  • Chair – Merit Selection Panel for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (2007)
  • Recipient – Baker Donelson Nashville Pro Bono Attorney of the Year (2007, 2009)
  • Former Faculty Member – Corporate and Securities Law Institute (ADR) (1996-1998)
  • Former Coach – National Trial Competition Team (1998-1999)
  • Former Adjunct Faculty Member – Trial Practice (1994-1997, 2020-2021)
  • Nashville School of Law
  • Former Lecturer, Civil Procedure (2003-2009)
  • Fellow – Nashville Bar Foundation (trustee, 1996-1998; fellow, 1992-)
  • Fellow — Tennessee Bar Foundation (1995-)
  • Tennessee Judicial Council, Legislative Sub-committee for Study and Review (chair, 1989)
  • Harry Phillips American Inn of Court (master, 1990-1994 and 1998-2009; emeritus member; Executive Committee and Program Committee, 2001-2021)
  • Member – ADR Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  • Member – Arbitration panel for U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  • Approved Mediator – Tennessee Commission on Alternative Dispute Resolution, until retirement in 2023
  • Member – American Arbitration Association, Mediation, Judicial Settlement Conference, and Arbitration (Commercial, Employment, Sports Law) Panels, until retirement in 2023
  • Member – Tennessee Academy of Mediators & Arbitrators, until retirement in 2023
  • Member – National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, until retirement in 2023
  • Member – Board of Directors, Nashville Conflict Resolution Center (2013-2015)
  • Member – Nashville Community Oversight Board (2019-2021)


  • Young, Warden and Sweeney, “Tennessee’s Sentence Reduction Laws,” The Litigator, September 1980
  • Co-Editor, Ethics Handbook, Nashville Bar Association, 1988
  • Chair, Board of Advisors, Tennessee Ethics Handbook, Tennessee Bar Association, 1991-2001
  • Sweeney and Stephenson, “In the Proper Forum – Trial, Arbitration or Mediation,” Tennessee Trial Lawyer, December 1994
  • Tennessee Pattern Jury Instructions – Civil, co-author with Charles K. Grant of practice considerations (LexisNexis, 2007)
  • Sweeney and Collins, “Mandatory Disclosure of Information Relating to a Client Under the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct,” Nashville Bar Journal, June 2010
  • Sweeney, “AMENDMENT 2, Behold a Trojan Horse,” Nashville Bar Journal, October 2014
  • Sweeney and Travis, Drafting the Arbitration Clause, Submitted for Publication, April 2023, Tennessee Bar Journal