Simmons leaving Bass managing partner post

17 years at helm enough for respected lawyer planning year-end exit

One of Nashville’s most venerated and well-liked jurists will step down from his management role later this year to pursue plans not yet announced, the Nashville Post has learned.

Keith Simmons, managing partner of Bass Berry & Sims, has confirmed he’ll leave the firm’s top leadership post, effective Dec. 31. He told Bass partners of his decision late last year.

Simmons has led Bass since Sept. 1, 1995, when the firm had a roster of 75 attorneys. It has since grown to 210 lawyers and also employs a 180-person administrative staff. The firm also has grown to include offices in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Washington D.C.

“I am proud of the work we have done,” Simmons said. “I think anyone in a leadership position wants to leave the organization which he or she has led in better shape than he or she found it and wants to leave the organization poised for even greater success.”

And that’s what Simmons has done. This year, Bass was named one of BTI Consulting’s top 30 law firms. A year ago, BTI named it one of 14 national “standout” securities litigation firms. Similarly, Corporate Board Member magazine has named Bass the best corporate law firm in Nashville every year since 2001.

Simmons' tenure at Bass began in 1976, immediately after his graduation from Vanderbilt Law School. He had earned an economics degree from the University of Kentucky and a master's degree in economics from South Dakota State University, a degree he earned while serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Prior to his managing partner role, Simmons worked as a public finance lawyer representing governmental issuers of municipal bonds. Among his bigger clients were Metro, the City of Knoxville, Williamson County and the Jackson Energy Authority.

Simmons hasn’t yet decided on his future. He said he’ll concentrate now on doing his job and said he also has many other activities to keep him busy in the interim. Those include serving as chair of the board of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp., chair-elect of the board of the Nashville Public Library, and chair-elect of the board of Lex Mundi, an association of 160 independent law firms with 22,000 lawyers in all the major countries of the world.