Our World-Class Speakers

Why We’re Different

Tennessee Law Institute was founded by Don Paine, who was a former president of both the Knoxville and Tennessee Bar Associations and a founding member of the Tennessee Bar Journal Editorial Board. Paine, who also authored the original Tennessee Law of Evidence, strongly believed that attorneys must pursue up-to-date knowledge of changes in state and federal laws and statutes. Because of these convictions, he founded the Tennessee Law Institute even before the state began requiring attorneys to complete CLE hours in order to maintain an active license to practice law.


The first Annual Review Seminar was first presented in 1972. In 1973, John Walker joined Paine in leading TLI, and for many years attendees affectionately referred to the Annual Review Seminar as the “Donnie and Johnny show.” Sarah Sheppeard joined TLI in 1987 and was followed by Lucian Pera in 2002 and Wade Davies in 2011. They, too, utilize an innovative style of presenting the most relevant information in ways to which attendees can relate, often interjecting humor. Paine, for example, used an oversized stuffed panda during his evidence seminars. The panda, Mr. Bear, still participates in today’s CLE seminars, and wears one of Paine’s ties. Paine passed away in 2013 and Walker passed away just a few years later in 2016.


Well before passing away, Don Paine had elicited the help of Sarah Sheppeard, who co-wrote the 2nd through 6th editions of the treatise Tennessee Law of Evidence with him and Neil Cohen. Sheppeard was recognized as the first recipient of the Don Paine Lawyer Legacy Award.


As Sheppeard, Davies, Pera, and Lanquist continue to deeply honor the legacy of Don Paine, they have become legacies in their own right. Throughout each year they collect and analyze all Tennessee appellate cases, statutes, and changes in court rules, as well as various federal statutes and opinions. This voluminous material is carefully reviewed, and the most important items are condensed into a two-day seminar intended to give the practitioner the most up-to-date knowledge of these important developments.


Now in its 51st year, the Annual Review Seminar has the largest attendance of any continuing legal education program in Tennessee. In addition to teaching many of the state’s attorneys, the lecturers have also given CLE presentations to other local, statewide and national conferences, including the Tennessee Judicial Conference.

Sarah Sheppeard

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Lucian Pera

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Wade Davies

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Ed Lanquist

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“The best comprehensive review in the state. TLI is the only seminar I attend each year.”

John “Eric” Johnson

How The Annual Review Seminar Works

The other factor that differentiates TLI from other CLE providers is how the Annual Review Seminar is structured. In order to make it easy and accessible for attorneys to attend, the Seminars are presented in 5 locations throughout the state from September through December.


These seminars offer 15 hours of state required CLE— 3 hours or Ethics/Professionalism and 12 for general hours—over the course of two days. The Ethics hours are optional as to registration for the seminar. Participants can “mix and match” course locations to best suit their schedule, and can easily reschedule for another location should they need to cancel. Full refunds, or credit for the following year, are given with a 48-hour notice.


Participants learn in a classroom setting and the informative environment supports attorneys in elevating many areas of their law practice. Because we deeply believe in the value of our program, we commit to the following agreement:


We pledge an easy registration process with the flexibility to change, split or transfer your registration at any time, along with a friendly, cooperative staff.

We pledge that CLE courses are not only educational, they’re entertaining and engaging as well.

We pledge you’ll learn at least one thing that will change how you handle your current or future cases.

We pledge that the cases, laws, and ethics you learn about will be relevant to your practice.

We pledge that the information presented will be understandable and relatable, and the tone will be conversational.

We pledge that the courses will actually be fun, that you’ll learn why there’s a 3-foot stuffed panda bear with a tie on stage, and that you will laugh as you learn.

We pledge that you will meet other attorneys and have the opportunity to network and form a camaraderie that can benefit your practice.

We pledge that you will believe choosing TLI was a wise investment and a good choice for your CLE requirement.

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