Janice Holder began her legal career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Herbert P. Sorg, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. At the conclusion of her clerkship in 1977, she entered into private practice in Pittsburgh. She served as the solicitor for the Borough of McDonald, Pennsylvania, her hometown, for one year before moving to Memphis, Tennessee, where she practiced law for ten years.
Janice was elected judge of the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee, in 1990. In 1993, she was appointed the coordinating judge of the silicone gel breast implant cases in West Tennessee by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She served as a member of the National Conference of Chief Justices Mass Tort Litigation Committee and the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Subcommittee and was appointed the subcommittee’s chair in 1996. She also served on the Tennessee Supreme Court as a special justice during its November 1994 session.
In 1996, she was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court by Governor Don Sundquist, and in 2008, she became the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Court. Justice Holder was a member of the Board of Directors and Second Vice President of the Conference of Chief Justices in 2011. The Tennessee General Assembly honored her in 2008 by the passage of Joint Resolution 1401 in recognition of her achievement. She retired from the Supreme Court in August 2014.
While serving as a Circuit Court judge, Judge Holder was awarded the Sam A. Myar Award for Outstanding Service to the Legal Profession and to the Community and the Chancellor Charles A. Rond Award as Outstanding Jurist by the Memphis Bar Association. She also received the Judge of the Year Award from the Divorce and Family Law Section of the Memphis Bar Association.
Janice Holder founded the Memphis Bar Association’s Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee in 1987 and served as its chair from 1987 to 1991. In 1987, she served as the vice-chair of the American Bar Association Lawyer Impairment Project. From 1989 until 1996, she served on the executive committee of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Lawyers Concerned For Lawyers committee. She was instrumental in the formation of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program and served as its liaison for 15 years. She served as a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP) from 2016–2018 and was honored by CoLAP for her exceptional support of the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program. She is also the author of “Completing the Puzzle: Lawyer Assistance and
Conditional Admission,” 49 Duq. L. Rev. 439 (2011).
Justice Holder was the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Access to Justice Commission from the inception of the commission until her retirement in August 2014. Because of her leadership of the Supreme Court’s initiative, she received the 2009 W. J. Michael Cody Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award and the Lifetime Commitment to Access to Justice Award in 2014, both from Memphis Area Legal Services, as well as the Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award from the Tennessee Bar Association in 2013. Nationally, she has served on committees of the American Bar Association, including the Data Collection Advisory Group of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service, the Judges’ Working Group, and the Judicial and Court Leadership Working Group. She has also assisted the Legal Services Corporation by serving on the Rules Change Subcommittee of the LSC Pro Bono Task Force and by participating in a briefing before the United States Congress concerning Legal Services Corporation funding.
Janice is listed as a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 General Civil Mediator in Tennessee and serves on the American Arbitration Association Roster of Arbitrators and on the AAA Master Mediator Panel. She is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, Tennessee Chapter.
Judge Holder, Judge Robert L. Childers administering oath, and Sylvia and Louis Holder. September 1990 following my election to Circuit Court
Taking the oath as Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, September 2008
Justice Clark, Justice Holder, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Justice Lee
The United States Supreme Court under the portrait of Justice O’Connor.
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