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Stephanie J. Williams

In the Beginning

I am a native of Louisville, KY, but have lived in Tennessee for 35 years.  I attended McGavock High School for three years and graduated from Germantown High School in Memphis.  After graduation, I returned to Nashville, the city I call home.    I attended Fisk University for two years before taking a hiatus to raise my two young children.


Right Place, Right Time

Single motherhood, while rewarding, presented its challenges.  I often worked multiple jobs to support my family.  Eventually, I was fortunate enough to land a job in the law office of Richard Manson.  Mr. Manson encouraged me to complete my undergraduate education and go to law school.  I began going to school at night while working during the day and on weekends. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Trevecca Nazarene University in the summer of 2000.  That fall, I started law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, after receiving an academic scholarship.  To maintain stability and continuity for my children, I continued to live in Nashville and commuted to Knoxville to attend classes.  I graduated from law school in December of 2002.


Turning Pain into Passion

The celebration of becoming a licensed attorney was short lived as I spent most of that year in my own custody and child support litigation.  Through that experience, I recognized how cost prohibitive family law litigation could be for many people. This is where my true passion for family law began. Recognizing the vital need for affordable, effective representation in family law, I founded the Family Justice Center in 2005. I developed the concept and was solely responsible for its operation.  With grant funds from the State of Tennessee, I represented hundreds of litigants in family law cases at reduced rates.  The Family Justice Center was the first organization of its kind in Middle Tennessee. 


I ran the Family Justice Center until 2009, but due to funding limitation, I transitioned to a more traditional practice focusing on divorce, property division, alimony, legal separation, annulment, child custody and parenting time, child support, dependency and neglect, contempt, orders of protection, and mediation.  


Judicial Training and Work in the Fourth Circuit Court

In 2014, I was afforded the distinct honor of serving as the Special Master of the Fourth Circuit Court in Davidson County under the late Judge Philip E. Smith.  In this role, I served in a judicial capacity handling thousands of family law cases through judicial settlement conferences, special master hearings and order of protection hearings.  I devised a streamlined system to assist self-represented litigants in uncontested divorce cases and reviewed and prepared files in adoption cases.  The 4th Circuit Court is the only court in Davidson County that handles adoption cases. 


Change is Inevitable

I served as the Special Master for Judge Smith, who was also my dear friend and mentor, for nearly 9 years until his unexpected passing in September 2022.  Following his untimely passing, I managed the court’s operations until Judge Smith’s successor was appointed.  This experience affirmed that I have the ability to be a judicial leader.  


The Time Had Come

I applied to fill the vacancy created by the passing of the Honorable Phillip E. Smith.  I was honored to be selected by the Trial Court Vacancy Commission as a finalist for the appointment to Judge Smith's seat.  Although I received overwhelming support from numerous elected officials, community leaders, and more than 150 family law attorneys, the Governor was not swayed.


After prayerful consideration, I knew my day had come and my time was now.  I decided to declare my candidacy to those who make the ultimate decision-the voters of Davidson County. I left the security of the special master's position to campaign full-time to serve as Judge of the Fourth Circuit Court. I am excited for the future and the positive difference I can make in the lives of Nashville's families and the family law court system. 


My Greatest Achievements and Motivation

My son Shawn is 29 years old, thriving in his trade as a heavy machine operator and as a father to my 4-year-old granddaughter, Ella.  My daughter Chloeè, 27, is a graduate of Howard University and Washington University School of Law.  She is a licensed attorney and now resides in Los Angeles, California, and is working in the entertainment industry.  They are all my proudest achievements and motivate me to do and be my best.  I am eternally grateful for them and fully equipped and ready to serve because of them. 

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