DarKenya Waller is a 1999 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. She earned a Masters of Business Administration from Belhaven College in 2005. Mrs. Waller was a solo practitioner in Jackson, Mississippi, where she specialized in domestic law and real estate. She also worked with Chinn & Associates, PLLC, one of the premier domestic relations firms in Mississippi. From 1999 to 2001 she worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, Division of Medicaid. She established and ran a Technology and Communications company that represented clients such as the City of Atlanta and the National Conference of Black Mayors. Mrs. Waller is a member of the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars. Her legal practice is focused on family law. She was a member of the 2011 class of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She serves on the Tennessee State Domestic Violence Coordinating Counsel, the Tennessee Bar Association Family Law Code Committee and the Williamson County Pro Bono Committee.
Director of the Nashville Pro Bono Program
Lucinda Smith is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a 1976 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. After clerking for the Davidson County Chancery Court and practicing with the State of Tennessee and in private practice, she served as Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Family Law Section from 1987 to 1990. From 1991 to 2003 she was with the firm of Dodson, Parker Dinkins & Behm. She returned to the Legal Aid Society to direct The Nashville Pro Bono Program, a joint venture of the Legal Aid Society and Nashville Bar Association. She has served as First Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Board of the Nashville Bar Association. She was Nashville’s Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year in 1995. She has taught family law an adjunct professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School. She is former Chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission and is active in the Lawyers’ Association for Women and the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.
Lead and Staff Attorneys
Claire Abely is a 2004 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of DePauw University. While at law school she was a member of Order of the Coif and Student Notes Editor of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal. She also worked with the Center of Applied Legal Studies, where she successfully represented an asylum seeker at trial before the Immigration Court. Between college and law school she served with the Peace Corps in Romania. Following graduation from law school she worked as an associate with the firm of Foley & Lardner in Boston. While with that firm she handled several significant pro bono cases on behalf of asylum applicants. For this work she received the John Adams Pro bono Publico Award on behalf of a group of volunteer immigration attorneys. She was also a Boston Bar Foundation Public Interest Leadership Fellow and was recognized by Boston Magazine as a Super Lawyer “Rising Star in 2007 and 2008. She also received the Outstanding Service Award from the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation project in 2008. From 2009 to 2010 she was a law clerk to the Supreme Judicial Court in Boston and from 2010 to 2011 taught legal writing at the Boston University School of Law. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2013 and works in the Consumer and Housing Unit.
Allison Cooley is a 2011 graduate of Charlotte School of Law and completed did her undergraduate studies at Loyola University in New Orleans. In law school she did an externship with United Family Services, representing victims of domestic violence and with Neighborhood Advocacy Center, assisting parents seeking reunification with children in Youth and Family Services. She also interned with the law firm of Wishart, Norris Henninger & Pitman. She was a Charlotte School of Law Post-Graduate fellow with the Nashville office for six months before joining LAS in 2012.
Katie Evans is a 2007 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she was the recipient of the Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz Student Leadership Award and a Tennessee Judicial Conference Foundation Scholarship. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2008 and works on health, benefits and children’s issues. Since joining Legal Aid, she has been involved in significant federal litigation with the aim of keeping individuals with disabilities in their homes and communities. She was a recipient of the 2010 New Advocate of the Year Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She serves as co-chair of the Health and Benefits Task Force for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services.
Robert Nadler, Tennessee Taxpayer Project, is a1972 graduate of the University of Illinois School of Law. Mr. Nadler worked for 30 years as an attorney/manager in the District Counsel Office of the Internal Revenue Service in Nashville. In 2002, he joined the Legal Aid Society’s Tennessee Taxpayer Project, which represents low-wage workers who have controversies with the IRS. Mr. Nadler has taught tax procedure at the Nashville School of Law and the Vanderbilt University School of Law. He has published several articles on taxpayer rights. Following Nashville’s historic flood in 2010, he wrote a widely-distributed and highly acclaimed Tax Guide for Flood Victims. The Mayor’s recovery team selected him to be the principal speaker at community meetings throughout Nashville. In May 2011, the American Bar Association published his Practitioner’s Guide to Innocent Spouse Relief.
Russ Overby, Lead Attorney for Health and Benefits, is a graduate of Wheaton College and a 1974 graduate Vanderbilt Law School. He worked at the Legal Aid Society in Nashville from 1974 until 1993 and was lead counsel in several significant federal and state cases involving public benefits and the rights of children in state institutions. He was a Clinical Instructor at Vanderbilt from 1974 to 1977. In 1993 he became managing attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office. From 1997 to 2005 he worked as the Welfare Reform Lawyer at the Tennessee Justice Center. He rejoined the Legal Aid Society in 2006, where he handles health and public benefits cases. He has written extensively about public benefits issues and conducted training on the topic for national audiences. He received the State Advocate of the Year Award from the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare in 1998 and the Harry Chapin Advocacy Award from MANNA in 1997. In 2008 the Tennessee Bar Association awarded him its Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award. In 2011 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave him its B. Riney Green Award for his commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. His interests include following the Chicago White Sox and swimming.
Audrey Seamon is a graduate of the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She was Board Articles Editor of the Faulkner Law Review. Before enrolling in law school she was a senior paralegal with the Stockbridge, Georgia firm of Smith, Welch & Brittain, where she was actively involved in civil litigation and family law. While in law school she worked as a law clerk with Smith, Welch & Brittain and with the Montgomery Firm of Beasley Allen. She was the regional champion in the 2010 ABA Mediation Tournament and was active in Trial Advocacy and Moot Court competition. Upon moving to Tennessee she was Staff Attorney to Senior Judge Walter Kurtz in Nashville. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2013 and works in the Family Law unit.
Chay Sengkhounmany is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of Georgia State University College of Law. She directs the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children between the Legal Aid Society and the Neighborhood Health Services and the Shade Tree Clinic, for whom she provides legal services to patients. She previously worked for the Immigrant Legal Clinic of the Tennessee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, where she represented immigrant victims of domestic or sexual violence, trafficking and stalking. She frequently conducts training on immigration relief for victims of abuse. She presented at the 2012 Annual American Immigration Lawyers Association Conference and is scheduled to present at its 2013 summer conference. In 2010, Mercer University Press published her book on the history of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta. She is a 2009 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers.
David Tarpley, Lead Attorney for Housing and Consumer Law, is a 1971 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1971 and became managing attorney of the Consumer Section in 1974. He holds the Herman O. Loewenstein Chair, named for the donor of a generous endowment to support consumer advocacy in Nashville. He has practiced extensively in the field of consumer law and is a frequent presenter at local, state and regional training. He served for 26 years on the Board of Directors of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Middle Tennessee. He has been on the adjunct faculty of the Vanderbilt University Law School since 1986 and teaches a course on consumer credit protection. He is on the faculty of the Nashville School of Law, where he teaches a course in Consumer Protection. In 1997 he received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award for the Public Service Attorney of the Year. In 2003 the Nashville Business Journal identified him as one of the outstanding 100 lawyers in the Nashville bar. David is an avid amateur musician and plays French horn with the Trevecca Symphony Orchestra and sings in the choir at Vine Street Christian Church.