Penny White

Former state Supreme Court justice White to lead UT Law clinics

Penny White, a former Tennessee Supreme Court justice and currently a professor of law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, was recently named the college’s interim director of clinical programs.

White will oversee ten clinics, two practicums, and three externship programs, including the longest-running legal clinic in the United States.

In addition to her new role, White also serves UT Law as the director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and the Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have leadership from Professor White, who is immensely talented and accomplished,” said Melanie D. Wilson, dean of the College of Law. “She is a proven scholar, a dedicated and gifted teacher, and a role model for any lawyer. Our clinical opportunities are among the best in the country and are sure to continue to flourish under Professor White’s leadership.”

Before beginning her teaching career, White served as a judge at every level of the court system in Tennessee, serving as the first female circuit judge in the First Judicial District and the second woman to serve on the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court.

A member of the UT faculty since 2000, White teaches evidence, trial practice, pre-trial litigation, negotiations, and interviewing and counseling, and she lectures around the country at legal and judicial education programs on these areas, as well as about professionalism and capital punishment jurisprudence and ethics. For more than fifteen years, she has taught annually at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop. White has also served as a visiting professor and guest lecturer at several other law schools, including Yale, Washington and Lee, the University of Denver, and West Virginia University.

White is the recipient of UT’s 2012 Jefferson Prize for excellence in research and creative activity and the 2012 Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award. She also received UT Law’s 2010 Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2009 Yarbrough Award for Writing Excellence, and the Carden Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship (2008) and Outstanding Service (2007) to the Institution. The National Judicial College, where she teaches regularly, awarded her the 2014 Advancement of Justice Award and the 2010 V. Robert Payant Award for Teaching Excellence.

She has published numerous articles on evidence, criminal procedure, and ethics, including “Relinquished Responsibilities,” a 2009 article on judicial independence for the Harvard Law Review. She co-authored a benchbook for judges on capital trials in 2009 and authored a 2010 book on the defense of capital cases, for which she was awarded the Ritchie Award by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Before attending UT Law, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Tennessee Law Review. White earned a Master of Laws degree at Georgetown University Law Center in 1987 and a Bachelor of Science degree at East Tennessee State University in 1978, graduating summa cum laude.

A leader in clinical education since 1947, UT Law offers clinical programs in advocacy, appellate litigation, business law (including trademark law), domestic violence, mediation (including family mediation), innocence/wrongful convictions, non-profits, and wills. The college also offers practicums in education and environmental law and judicial, prosecutorial, and public defender externship opportunities.