James F. Butler

Previous Experience

Prior to being appointed Chancellor by Governor Phil Bredesen, he engaged in the private practice of law for 36 years in

Jackson, Tennessee. He has been an active supporter of the Pro Bono Project, which provides legal assistance to indigent people. He was presented the Pro Bono Award in 1993 and 2000 by the West Tennessee Legal Services Corporation. He is the recipient of the William Henry Miles Outstanding Service Award (2003) and the R.E. Womack Outstanding Alumnus Award (2004).


Chancellor Butler has lectured extensively on family law and the rights of military personnel and their families under the various federal laws that apply to them. As Chancellor, he presides over a domestic relations seminar in the fall of each year.


Chancellor Butler is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Tennessee and all lower trial and appellate courts. He is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Military Service

Chancellor Butler served in the Tennessee Army National Guard for 28 years in the Judge Advocate Generals Corp, retiring in 2001, with the rank of Colonel. His last position was serving as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 30th Troop Command. He is an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at the

University of Virginia. He has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (two times), the Army Commendation Medal (five times), the Army Achievement Medal (two times), and the Legion of Merit. Chancellor Butler is admitted to practice before the Court of Military Review and the Court of Military Appeals in Washington, D. C.

Education & Associations

Chancellor Butler graduated from Lambuth University, where he later served as General Counsel and member of the Board of Trustees. He attended the University of Tennessee College of Law graduating with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1966. He is a member of the following:

  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • Tennessee Judicial Conference
  • Madison County Bar Association
  • Tennessee Association House of Delegates
  • Tennessee Trial Judges Association (Executive Committee)
  • Tennessee Bar Foundation (Board of Trustees, Past Chairman, Grant Review Committee)

Chancellor Butler is also a member of the First United Methodist Church.