Donald F. Paine
1939 - 2013

Donald F. Paine, founding member of Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, LLP, passed away Monday, November 18, 2013.

A native of Knoxville, Don received his Bachelor’s, his Master’s and his Law Degree all from the University of Tennessee and served as Editor-in-Chief for the Tennessee Law Review. Following his graduation from law school, he served his country as Captain of the Judge Advocate General Corps. After his military service, he began a distinguished career teaching the law first at the University of Tennessee College of Law where he instructed future lawyers for nearly 30 years. He later taught briefly at Vanderbilt University School of Law. He holds the distinction of having been the only person to have received the Outstanding Teacher Award at both Vanderbilt and Tennessee Law Schools. At the University of Tennessee College of Law, he was selected as the Outstanding Teacher three times, and he was awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1996.

Ever the teacher, Don continually served the legal community through bar review courses, continuing education sessions, and his writing. Since 1970, he was a Lecturer at the Tennessee Law Institute, the Bar Review course and the Tennessee Judicial Conference. In 1974, Don authored Tennessee Law of Evidence, the seminal work on the subject and now in its fifth edition. He has also written prolifically for both the Tennessee Bar Journal (“Paine on Procedure”) and the Knoxville Bar Association (“Local Legal History”).

For 35 years, Don served as a member of the Advisory Commission to the Tennessee Supreme Court on Practice and Procedure serving as both the Chair and Reporter at various times. Upon his retirement from that role in 2009, he was named “Reporter Emeritus” in acknowledgement of his many years of service.

He served as President of the KBA (1983), President of the Barristers’ Club (1974), and President of the Tennessee Bar Association (1986-1987). He is a member of the Knoxville Bar Foundation, the Tennessee Bar Foundation, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Don was particularly proud of his pro bono work making significant contributions in the delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged. His work was so substantial that he was recognized by both the KBA and TBA with their pro bono awards.

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, which annually presents three annual Pro Bono Project Awards, named one of the awards the Donald F. Paine Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award, given annually to a law student who has exemplified outstanding service to those in need.

Additional awards he received include the Knoxville Bar Association’s Governor’s Award (1993), KBA’s most distinguished award. In 2007, The Barristers, The Young Lawyers Division of the KBA, awarded Don the Law Through Liberty award for his contribution to the advancement and protection of the legal profession.

When he received the Law Through Liberty award, Dwight Tarwater, longtime partner and friend, said, “Don is certainly one of the greatest legal scholars in the state, one of the greatest legal teachers of our time, a leader of our profession, a prolific public servant, and a devoted advocate for the underprivileged. These are values to which we all should aspire. Don has approached his life’s work with passion and courage. He loves the law, his career has brought him great joy, and he has made the world a better place.”

The legal profession in Knoxville and across the state is in a better place thanks to Donald F. Paine, and he continues to live on through his writings and the exemplary role he set for all attorneys.