Tennessee political heavyweight and business lobbyist Tom Lee has left the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP to hang his own shingle.
Lee, who was a partner at Waller Lansden and was the firm’s Capitol Hill lobbyist for the past two years, is founding a new firm to be called BlairBlvd LLC. A placeholder for the new firm’s Web site at instructs readers to “get ready for the address where Tennessee business and public policy meet.”
In addition to his work on Capitol Hill, Lee served as an adviser and strategist for the campaigns of Mayor Karl Dean and Harold Ford Jr.
“There are lots of people in Tennessee gifted in business or government or media or politics, but no one puts all of it together any better than Tom Lee,” said Ford, whom Lee served in 2006 as senior advisor for policy and communications. “He sees the whole field.”
“Tom is strategic, honest, and smart,” said Republican strategist Tom Ingram, who worked against Lee in the 2006 battle royale Senate race. “He never asks anyone to take a position he can't help them defend, so he's trusted in both parties. Mostly, though, Tom knows how to win: I've worked with him and against him, and I prefer the former."
Among Lee's recent legislative battles were leading a coalition of business groups to reform the state’s water laws, eventually reaching a compromise that passed the General Assembly with the approval of the governor and leading environmental groups.
He also worked with the Bredesen administration to help pass a privilege tax on NHL and NBA players to generate new backing for events in the Sommet Center and FedEx Forum and is the longtime lobbyist for Wal-Mart, the state’s largest private employer.
Lee is a 28-year veteran of Tennessee media, politics, business and law, starting his career as an intern at the Knoxville News-Sentinel in 1981. He eventually moved to television in Knoxville and Nashville, where he won Emmy Awards for his documentary work. He graduated Order of the Coif from Vanderbilt’s law school in 1995 and was executive editor of the law review. After clerking for U.S. District Judge Tom Wiseman, he joined Waller in 1996 and made partner in 2002.