Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

About Chancellor Lyle

Chancellor Lyle has served 20 years in Davidson County as a state court chancery judge. Her judicial career spans a broad spectrum of business cases including shareholder litigation, noncompetition and trade secrets disputes, corporate dissolutions, contract cases, accountings, mergers and acquisitions, and construction cases.

Prior to taking the bench, she was a partner in the Nashville law firm Trabue, Sturdivant & Dewitt (1984-1995), and an associate attorney with Fullbright and Jaworski in Houston, Texas (1981-84).

Chancellor Lyle earned her J.D. (1981) and B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa 1978) from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and is a graduate of the Harpeth Hall School. She is a fifth generation Nashvillian and is married to former Circuit and former Senior Judge Walter C. Kurtz.

Other Facts about Chancellor Lyle

  • AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell
  • Highest Ranked Davidson County State Trial Judge in 2014 Nashville Bar Association Poll
  • A Judiciary Liaison of Tenn. Code Ann. §16-3-601 Tennessee Supreme Court Advisory Commission on Rules of Practice and Procedure (2012 to 2015)
  • Lawyers’ Association For Women, Marion Griffin Chapter, Archivist (2009‑2010), Director (2007‑2009)

How I Got To

The Business Court

The establishment of the Business Court provides the opportunity to take my experience in business law, case management and litigation to develop and implement increased efficiencies while providing high quality outcomes.

My interest in business cases was sparked by my work as a young attorney. Upon graduation from the University of Tennessee School of Law in 1981, I went to work in Houston for the Texas law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski.

One late afternoon, a team of the Firm’s lawyers pulled another new, young lawyer and me into their case to perform emergency “all-nighter” research which in those days entailed combing through digests to locate and then read through case law on an issue that had surfaced in trial.

The case was between a domestic oil company (the Producer) and a foreign corporation (the Buyer) over whether a force majeure clause was triggered by the government of Muammar Gaddafi shutting off Libyan pipelines in an oil embargo. That case, with its contract interpretation issues, followed by other commercial cases I worked on in Texas, hooked me on business cases.

So, in 1995, having returned by that time to my native Nashville, I applied for an opening in Davidson County Chancery Court whose jurisdiction included business cases, and I obtained the position.

Twenty years later, after a judicial career of contract interpretation, accountings, shareholder litigation, mergers, acquisitions, REIT lawsuits, noncompetition agreements, corporate dissolutions, and shareholder derivative cases, I am eager to begin my assignment by the Tennessee Supreme Court as the trial judge for the Business Court Pilot Project.

My eagerness stems from the personal admiration I have for the initiative, resourcefulness, can-do attitude and work product of those in the business sector. To assist this endeavor by providing a good legal process is a privilege.

But the ultimate satisfaction for me is the work. I just simply enjoy doing the actual work: the detail, customization for each case, coring down into the facts and claims, the conflict management, the legal analysis, preparing meaningful instructions and verdict forms for jurors, and writing up my findings of fact and conclusions of law. Rolling up my sleeves alongside the court staff, the attorneys and the litigants to do this work to me is compelling.