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The life of the law: an interview with Jerry Summers

“The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience,” the renowned jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said decades ago.

The context of the remark was a series of lectures on the common law given in 1880-81. Justice Holmes wasn’t saying the law is illogical. He was saying the law is not merely a set of abstract principles but a human institution, shaped by and for people in a political association.

Lawyers naturally play a large role in this shaping of the law. Recently, the Tennessee Bar Foundation’s Legal History Project -took the time to document the experiences of some of the significant practitioners in our state.

One of these impactful lawyers is our firm’s Jerry Summers. In a filmed interview conducted by former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Mickey Barker, Jerry speaks in detail about his life and work. The conversation covers a wide range of ground, from Jerry’s early years in Chattanooga to his decision to turn down a baseball contract from the New York Mets.

Throughout the interview, the influence that key people can have in shaping life choices becomes clear. For Jerry Summers, one such person was an attorney named John K. Morgan. Mr. Morgan represented Jerry’s uncle and later encouraged Jerry to consider law school.

We invite you to watch and listen to Justice Barker’s interview with Jerry and reflect on his wealth of experience in life and the law.

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