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Hon. Patricia J. Cottrell

Hon. Patricia J. Cottrell (Ret.)

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Employment Law
Governmental/Public Agency
Health Care
Higher Education & Title IX
Real Estate & Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Judge Patricia J. Cottrell (Ret.) brings to JAMS broad experience as both practitioner and jurist in the areas of business/commercial, governmental/public agency, employment, health care, higher education, real property, torts and contracts, among others. Judge Cottrell will use her broad background to provide parties with services tailored to their specific needs.

Judge Cottrell served on the Tennessee Court of Appeals for 16 years, during which time she participated in thousands of cases involving all areas of state civil law, including contract, tort, family law, securities, real property, corporate law, wills and estates, land use, administrative law and state taxation, among others. She wrote majority opinions in hundreds of cases and was known for her preparation, her handling of complex issues and her thoroughness.

In addition to her service as a jurist, Judge Cottrell spent many years representing governmental officials and agencies, beginning her career as a clerk with the Office of the Attorney General of Tennessee and ultimately becoming chief deputy attorney general. Judge Cottrell also worked in the municipal arena as director of law for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, where she oversaw all litigation involving the city, advised the mayor and city officials and helped draft the city’s code of ethics and its purchasing law. Later, she was named as the city’s first chief compliance officer based upon her reputation for following the highest ethical standards and the respect accorded her work. Prior to joining JAMS, Judge Cottrell practiced law at a Nashville law firm.

Judge Cottrell’s alternative dispute resolution practice includes appellate services, mediations, arbitrations and neutral analysis.

Representative Matters

  • Appellate
      • As a judge on Tennessee Court of Appeals for 16 years, participated in thousands of civil cases and wrote hundreds of majority opinions; served as presiding judge of the Middle Section of the court
      • Taught appellate practice at Belmont University College of Law
      • Presented at CLE programs on appellate practice
      • Consulted on briefing and argument of appeal of multimillion-dollar judgment that resulted in an overturned jury verdict
      • Participated in panels for mock appellate arguments of cases involving state tax liability for large corporation, legal fees in prolonged federal civil rights action, special education responsibilities of local education agencies and other issues
  • Business/Commercial
      • As an appellate judge, wrote many opinions on contract law, including validity, interpretation, breach and remedies for breach, including Pylant v. Spivey, 174 S.W.3d 143 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003) and Anesthesia Med. Group v. Buras, 2006 WL 2737829
      • Participated as co-counsel in federal litigation over name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes
      • As co-counsel, successfully opposed dismissal of a shareholder derivative lawsuit
  • Employment Law
      • Participated in and decided many cases involving employment issues, including interpretation of employment contracts, whistleblower actions, retaliatory discharge, discrimination and governmental employee protections
  • Governmental/Public Agency
      • Mediated federal case between local government entity and employees over pay and interpretation of existing ordinance
      • As chief compliance officer for the City of Nashville, instituted policies to administer local government contracts and clarify ethical responsibilities
      • Represented the state in major purchases and contracts and any disputes over the award or administration of those contracts
      • As an appellate judge, wrote many opinions dealing with administrative law, review of local government actions, the Tennessee APA, constitutional challenges, and local land use and zoning
      • Wrote majority opinion in Summers v. Cherokee Children & Family Serv., 112 S.W.3d 486 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002) on a matter of first impression regarding the involuntary dissolution of a nonprofit and the duties and liabilities of nonprofit corporations and directors
      • As an appellate judge, authored opinions on the authority of local education agencies regarding statutory employment duties, including Marion County Bd. of Educ. v. Marion County Educ. Ass’n, 86 S.W.3d 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001)
  • Health Care
      • As an appellate judge, wrote opinions involving a wide variety of health care matters including malpractice, professional licensing, hospitals, peer review and privileges, physicians’ groups, expert testimony and health insurance
  • Real Estate & Real Property
      • As an appellate judge, authored many opinions on cases involving boundary lines, easements, land use and local zoning authority; see State ex rel. Moore & Assoc., Inc. v. West, 246 S.W.3d 569 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2005) and Brown v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 2013 WL 3227568 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2013)

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Nashville Bar Association, 1985–2022
    • Board of Directors, 2008–2009
  • Nashville Bar Foundation, 1995–present
  • Tennessee Bar Foundation, 1996–present
  • Tennessee Judicial Conference, 1998–2014
  • Tennessee Supreme Court Historical Society, 2002–2014
  • Founding Member, Lawyers Association for Women, 1982–present
  • Harry Phillips Inn, American Inns of Court, 1996–2014
    • Executive Committee, 2000–2006
    • Emeritus Member, 2014–present
  • Board of Directors, Sister Cities of Nashville, 2010–present
  • Leadership Nashville, Class of 1993–1994
  • Adjunct Faculty, Nashville School of Law, 2022–present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Belmont University College of Law, 2018
  • Adjunct Faculty, Vanderbilt University College of Law, 1998–1999
  • Athena Award Nominee, Lawyers Association for Women, 2015

Background and Education

  • Chief Compliance Officer, City of Nashville (Davidson County), 2019
  • Of Counsel, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC (now Spencer Fane LLP), 2014–2018
  • Judge, Tennessee Court of Appeals, 1998–2014
    • Presiding Judge, Middle Section, 2007–2014
  • Office of Attorney General, 1976–1978, 1982–1991, 1993–1997
    • Chief Deputy Attorney General, 1993–1997
    • Deputy, Civil Litigation and State Services Division
    • Deputy, Administration
    • Managing Attorney
    • Assistant Attorney General
  • Director of Law, City of Nashville (Davidson County), 1991–1993
  • Assistant Director, Tennessee Alcoholic Beverages Commission, 1979–1981
  • Director, Public Law Institute, University of Tennessee College of Law, 1978–1979
  • J.D., University of Tennessee College of Law, 1976
    • Tennessee Law Review, 1975–1976
    • John Greene Scholarship Recipient, 1973–1976
    • Instructor, Legal Research and Writing, 1976
  • B.A. (with honors), University of Tennessee, 1969


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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