Justice Clark Honored with Vanderbilt Law School’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award

April 24, 2018

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark was recently honored with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from Vanderbilt University Law School at the school’s Founders Circle Dinner.

The Distinguished Service Award “is given annually to the person or people who best represent the traditions of excellence and professionalism of the Vanderbilt Law School and who have made outstanding contributions to the school,” according to Vanderbilt University.

Justice Clark, a two-time Vanderbilt alumna, earning both her undergraduate and law degrees from the university, met all of those requirements and more, Vanderbilt University Law School Dean Chris Guthrie said.

“In addition to Connie’s tireless community service, she has served on the law school’s Board of Advisors and taught as a member of Vanderbilt’s adjunct law faculty,” Dean Guthrie said. “She deserves this recognition for her lifetime of service to the state of Tennessee, the 21st Judicial District and her hometown of Franklin, and I’m very proud to recognize her with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award.”

Justice Clark’s career as a judge began in 1989 when she was appointed circuit court judge of the 21st Judicial District. She served in that capacity until 1999, when she became director of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts.

Governor Phil Bredesen appointed her to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2005. She won election to a full term on the Court in 2006 and again in 2014.  During her tenure on the Court, Justice Clark became only the second woman in the Court’s history to serve as chief justice, a position she held from 2010 to 2012.

Justice Clark was also the first woman to chair the Tennessee Bar Foundation, one of many legal organizations to which she belongs. 

“I am immensely gratified to have been presented with this special honor,” Justice Clark said. “Vanderbilt University Law School took a chance on me. I am so proud to be a part of the Vanderbilt Law School community. Throughout my career I have attempted to uphold and embody the values I learned as a Vanderbilt law student. I will continue to do the same in the years to come.”

Justice Clark is no stranger to commendations. In addition to the Distinguished Service Award, Justice Clark has been presented with several other honors in recent years, including, in 2017, the Justice Martha Craig Daughtrey Award from the Lawyers' Association for Women and, in 2015, the Pioneer Award from Vision 2020.  In 2010, Justice Clark was inducted into the Nashville YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement and was also named Appellate Judge of the Year by the Southeastern Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Justice Cornelia Clark holds her 2018 Distinguished Service Award next to Vanderbilt University Law School Dean Chris Guthrie and surrounded by members of her family.