Penny White

E.E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law, Director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution

Penny White

Areas of Expertise


Advocacy, Capital Punishment, Criminal Law, Judicial Ethics, Judicial Selection, Legal Ethics, State Courts and Procedure



LLM (Advocacy), 1987, Georgetown University Law Center

JD, 1981, University of Tennessee

BS, 1978, East Tennessee State University



Penny White, the Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law,  and serves as the director of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the University of Tennessee College of Law. She teaches evidence, trial practice, pretrial litigation, and negotiation, and assists with the law school’s various clinical and externship programs. She also lectures around the country at legal and judicial education programs on each of these areas as well as about capital punishment jurisprudence and ethics and professionalism issues.

Before beginning her teaching career, White practiced law in a small firm and as a solo practitioner focusing on criminal defense, civil rights, and family law. While a solo practitioner, she successfully argued in the United States Supreme Court. After leaving private practice, she 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.

While at UT, White has received the university’s Jefferson Prize for excellence in research and creative activity and the Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award; at the law school, she has received the Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, the Yarbrough Award for Writing Excellence, and the Carden Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and Outstanding Service to the Institution. The National Judicial College, where she teaches regularly, has awarded her the Advancement of Justice Award and the V. Robert Payant Award for Teaching Excellence.

White has published numerous articles on evidence, criminal procedure, and ethics, including her article “Relinquished Responsibilities” which was published in Volume 123 of the Harvard Law Review. She has also co-authored a benchbook for judges on Capital Trials and solely authored a book on the defense of capital cases, for which she was awarded the Ritchie Award by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.