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Stephanie being sworn in as Special Master of the Fourth Circuit Court by the late Judge Philip E. Smith, 2014



Family Law Mediator, Thompson Burton, PLLC, Nashville, TN         2023-Present

Stephanie is currently a partner at the law firm of Thompson Burton, PLLC.  She practices as a Rule 31 Listed Mediator for family law and helps families reach amicable resolutions in their family law related matters and avoid the expense, time, and uncertainty of a trial.

Special Master, Fourth Circuit Court, Davidson County, TN                        2014-2023

Stephanie was the appointed Special Master to the Fourth Circuit Court pursuant to TCA § 17-2-123 by the late Judge Philip E. Smith in January of 2014 and served until April of 2023. Stephanie resigned in April of 2023 to run for the role of Judge in this court.  In her role as Special Master, Stephanie was a Judicial Officer and had the following responsibilities:


  • Conduct Judicial Settlement Conferences and informal settlement meetings with lawyers and litigants prior to their hearing or trial before the judge.  Stephanie had a settlement rate of approximately 85% in over 2000 of these conferences and meetings. 

  • Conduct Special Master hearings pursuant to Rule 53 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. This involves hearing specific matters designated by the judge, drafting written reports of findings of facts, conclusions of laws, and recommendations for the judge.  

  • Preside over order of protection cases that either originate in Circuit Court or are appealed from General Sessions Court.

  • Review all adoption files, correspond with attorneys regarding deficiencies, review home studies, prepare files and consult with the judge for the monthly adoption docket. Fourth Circuit is the only court in Davidson County that hears adoption cases.

  • Review and approve or deny indigency requests to postpone the payment of filing fees.

  • Developed and manage an efficient, streamlined process for self-represented litigants in divorce cases. This process has more than doubled the number of self-represented divorces successfully concluded in Fourth Circuit Court.

  • Research, brief and consult with the judge on legal issues, memorandums and opinions.


Stephane’s role as Special Master also included administrative and office management duties:


  • Managed dockets and trial calendars. 

  • Supervised office staff and oversee office administration (Fourth Circuit has 7 other staff members)

  • Developed job descriptions, roles and responsibilities for office staff.

  • Developed, evaluated and managed office procedures, practices and regulations.

  • Interviewed candidates to fill judicial staff positions.

  • Implemented and supervised staff cross-training.

  • Co-developed an operational plan during COVID restrictions that included the use of technology for virtual hearings, staggered dockets, and managed crowds at the courthouse.

  • Created, implemented and continue to manage the temporary day-to-day operations and transition plans for Fourth Circuit Court until the successor judge was appointed. 

  • Provided support, assistance and direction to special judges hearing cases in Fourth Circuit Court, including facilitating and leading docket and case briefing meetings.

  • Maintained and manageed communications with the Davidson County domestic bar regarding matters in 4th Circuit Court during the transition period after the passing of Judge Philip E. Smith.


Attorney, SJW Family Law, Nashville, TN                                                     2009- 2013

Stephanie was a solo practitioner focusing on family law matters.  Her primary practice areas included divorce, property division, alimony, legal separation, annulments, child custody and parenting time, child support, contempt, orders of protection, and mediation. 


Founder and Attorney, Family Justice Center, Nashville, TN                     2005-2009

Recognizing the importance of and need for affordable, effective representation in the area of family law, Stephanie founded the Family Justice Center in 2005.  Stephanie independently developed the concept and was solely responsible for its operations.  In 2006, the Family Justice Center began accepting clients.  With grant funds from the State of Tennessee, she represented more than 250 litigants in family law cases at reduced rates in the Middle Tennessee area. The Family Justice Center was the first organization of its kind in Middle Tennessee, providing reduced-fee legal services to family law litigants. The Family Justice Center served as a “pioneer” in the community, shedding light on the need for affordable access to the legal system in the area of family law.


Associate, Manson, Jones and Associates, Nashville, TN                          2004-2008

Associate Attorney in a general practice law firm.  Stephanie worked as a law clerk before and while attending law school. After she passed the bar, the firm hired me as an associate attorney. Stephanie practiced in the areas of entertainment, family, juvenile, probate, real estate, and contract law, in addition to general civil and family law litigation. I supervised office staff positions, assisted with business planning and organization, and delegated and supervised workloads.




Adjunct Professor, Nashville School of Law-Nashville, TN                     2021-Present

Professor for the required Family Law course for 3L students.  This class provides a strong foundation for students who may practice family law and for those affected by family law issues, as well as bar preparation. Stephanie also serves as the faculty advisor for the Legal Aid Society at the school.


Adjunct Professor, Middle Tennessee State Univ-Murfreesboro, TN     2018-Present

Professor for the elective Family Law course in the Paralegal Legal Studies program as part of the undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. This class prepares students to be legal assistants.


Adjunct Professor, Strayer University ● Nashville, Tennessee                   2004-2007

Professor for undergraduate and graduate classes in Business Law, Conflict Resolution and Leadership, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Political Science and Public Administration. 


Part Time Instructor, Tennessee Career College ● Nashville, Tennessee   2004-2005

Instructor in the Paralegal Studies courses. This course focused on a general overview of the practice of law and legal theories to prepare students to be paralegals.

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