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Storied Tenn. Law Firm Is Struggling, Sues Ex-Managing Partner Over $225K Removed from Trust Account

Posted Nov 3, 2011 12:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Once a mighty force in high-profile government cases, a storied Tennessee law firm is struggling financially after the deaths of its founding partners and has sued a former managing partner.

Willis & Knight contends Tyree B. Harris IV wrongfully removed $225,000 from a trust account as part of a scheme to reduce his monthly child support payments by reducing money characterized as income, the Tennessean reports. Even if he had been entitled to all the money, which he wasn't, it should have been transferred to the operating account before being paid out for any purpose, the suit says.

Harris, who denies the allegations and has filed counterclaims against the firm's one remaining partner, Russell Willis, for alleged financial mismanagement, says he hasn't done anything wrong. In a child-support hearing earlier this year he referred to the $225,000 as "the preservation of an asset."

The firm, he says, "was essentially no more,” at the time he exited, having lost five of its six partners during “the last 17 months of its existence.”

Willis, the son of one of the founding partners, and two associates are the only lawyers on the firm's roster now. However, Willis says, “we’re still practicing law here," the newspaper reports.

The suit was filed in July.

Related coverage:

Tennessean: 'Nashville lawyer Alfred Knight dies at 74"

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