As a member of Frost Brown Todd, Tom practices in the areas of government services and business litigation, concentrating his work on lobbying and government relations, and providing strategic counsel on managing public policy change on state and local levels.
Tom’s approach to serving clients is seasoned by three decades of experience as a lobbyist, attorney, litigator, winning campaign strategist, university educator, and Emmy-award-winning journalist. With this diverse portfolio of experience, Tom is well regarded and sought after in his field. As MSNBC political commentator Harold Ford Jr. has said, “There are lots of people in Tennessee gifted in business or government or media or politics, but no one puts all of it together any better than Tom Lee. He sees the whole field.”
In an age when the face of government relations is evolving daily due to ethical reforms, increasing transparency, and an electronically engaged electorate, quality and attention to nuance has never mattered more. Getting results in politics involves the accumulation and wise investment of political capital, paired with the experience necessary to navigate the new model. The central focus of Tom’s practice is maintaining the correlation between these crucial parts, an approach that consistently gains success.
Recently, Tom has:
- Organized and led a statewide coalition to reform Tennessee’s water laws to re-balance the public priorities of economic development and environmental protection.
- Developed economic incentive packages to attract green jobs to economically struggling communities.
- Successfully represented the Tennessee Supreme Court and members of the state’s judiciary against legislative efforts to force expensive, direct elections of appellate judges.
- Authored and successfully lobbied passage of public financing measures supporting downtown high-rise development, each of Tennessee’s major league professional sports franchises, and acquisitions of thousands of acres for public land conservation.
- Authored and successfully lobbied passage of the nation’s first state law protecting ticket buyers and sellers against unlawful “bot” software giving offshore ticket brokers an unfair online advantage against sports and entertainment fans.
- Successfully defended many of the state’s largest businesses against costly regulatory and legislative initiatives.
- Organized an independent grassroots expenditure campaign on behalf of business clients, ultimately prevailing 71-29 in a municipal referendum.
Recognizing the importance of ever-expanding relationships within the political and professional worlds, Tom is active in both. In 2006, he served as senior advisor for policy and communications to the U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., voted by the National Journal Insiders’ Poll as the best-run Senate campaign in the nation. In 2007, Tom was named senior advisor to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s campaign, rising from 2% in early polls to victory in eight months. In 2008, TennesseePolitics.com readers voted Tom “Political Strategist of the Year,” and Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed Tom to serve as one of his representatives on a joint legislative committee to study administration of the death penalty. He also served as chairman of the Metropolitan Convention Center Commission, and worked as press secretary to the mayor of Nashville.
Tom holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University, where he was Order of the Coif and executive editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review. Prior to joining Frost Brown Todd, Tom was principal of his own public strategies firm and a partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. He holds an AV® rating by Martindale Hubbell®, and served on the Tennessee Judicial Council. Tom won two Emmy awards and numerous other national awards for investigative journalism and documentaries, ranging from health care policy to the aftermath of the first Iraq War.
Above all, Tom is passionate about the needs of his community and the passions of his clients. He enjoys his work as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches courses on lobbying, legislation, and public advocacy.