According to Jeff Goodson, the two personal qualities that have helped him the most during his career are his inherited competitive drive and attention to detail. “My father was an accomplished coach and athlete and, as a result, I suppose I am competitive by nature,” says Jeff. “It is a helpful attribute as a civil litigator, and I very much enjoy the competitive aspect of litigation.” He adds, “I also enjoy discovering/scrutinizing intimate and nuanced details which, in my experience, goes hand-in-hand with a successful litigation practice.”
Indeed, Jeff’s competitive spirit and detail-oriented nature have been the backbone of his educational and professional careers. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, Jeff began a nearly decade-long career at Lovell Communications, Inc., a nationally known marketing communications firm headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
Learning at Lovell
As an assistant account executive at Lovell, Jeff served as a ghostwriter and speechwriter for physicians, attorneys, and business executives, where his knack for well-written, nuanced details proved invaluable. He worked regularly with large, publicly traded corporations and with numerous national media outlets, and he assisted “Yes for Nashville,” a group that was instrumental in bringing the NFL’s Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) to Tennessee in 1997.
At Lovell, Jeff enjoyed the tremendous blessing of working with Lovell’s founder and then president and CEO, Paula Lovell, one of the most respected business executives in the history of Nashville (who, during Jeff’s time at Lovell, served as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, southeast region, and whose professional awards are too numerous to count, including having been named NAWBO’s 1997 “Woman Business Owner of the Year”). Jeff describes Paula Lovell as “undoubtedly the most gifted and fearless entrepreneur I have ever met.”
It was during his time at Lovell, while Jeff was learning from Paula, honing his business acumen and experiencing increasing success, that his competitive nature challenged him to do more with his abilities and training – specifically, to pursue a career in the law. In fact, many of Jeff’s clients at Lovell were renowned Nashville area attorneys who provided Jeff with helpful insight into the legal profession and encouraged him to explore the field of law.
Leaving the Corporate World for Law
Jeff made the difficult decision to leave the corporate world and the only company he had ever known and to accept the challenge of seeking a law degree, attending the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. After earning his J.D., Jeff worked as an associate at the Law Office of John Cobb Rochford, PLLC, where he specialized in civil litigation, with a particular emphasis on real estate matters, title insurance recoupment claims, and complex business disputes.
It was there that Jeff found he had a knack for real estate law, as his penchant for exhaustively pouring over minute details was very useful when researching land parcels and tracing back chains of title. “I have a love of history, and real estate is tied inseparably to history,” says Jeff. “It can be fascinating to research a parcel of land and to track all of the various transactions and occurrences that have involved or affected that particular parcel over the years, considering the chain of title may go back 150 years or more.”
Jeff adds, “I will forever be grateful to John Cobb Rochford for training me to examine the title to land, for teaching me to navigate real estate transactions generally and, more importantly, for selflessly taking the time to mentor me in the overall practice of law.”
In 2008, Jeff formed the Law Office of Jeff T. Goodson, PLLC, and continued to work thereafter with John Cobb Rochford as his partner, who had become one of Nashville’s leading real estate and title insurance practitioners. For several years, Jeff and John enjoyed a successful practice together, and Jeff relished the opportunity to dive into the history of Nashville and the Volunteer State as a whole through the lens of deeds and other recorded instruments. Once again, however, his competitive drive was pulling him elsewhere.
Representing the City of Clarksville
In 2012, Jeff accepted an offer to join the City Attorney’s Office for the City of Clarksville, Tennessee as a staff attorney. In 2013, Jeff was promoted to Deputy City Attorney. As the Deputy City Attorney, he served as chief of the City’s Litigation and Real Property Divisions and served as legal advisor to the City’s Mayor, the City Council, and City department heads and employees.
During his nearly decade-long tenure as in-house legal counsel for the City, Jeff developed extensive expertise surrounding the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, the Tennessee Open Records Act, civil rights litigation, and various other issues and topics relating to the representation of Tennessee municipalities and governmental entities generally.
In 2020, Jeff’s peers elected him as the president of the Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association (“TMAA”). He had served previously as the TMAA’s vice president and its treasurer. He served in his position as president from July 2020 until May of 2021, when he joined the firm.
Focus on Civil Litigation & Representing Government Employees
Jeff brings diverse professional experience and a multifaceted skill set to Batson Nolan, where he will continue to focus on civil litigation and the representation of governmental entities. “Much of my practice today continues to involve representing governmental entities and agents,” says Jeff. “Many such clients are law enforcement officers and other government employees who passionately devote a significant portion of their lives to public service. Quite commonly (and without hesitation), they place their lives in danger for the protection of others.” He adds, “Certainly, it is very rewarding and satisfying to represent such impressive persons.”
Jeff is a published legal author, has represented Fortune 500 companies in federal and state litigation, and has been a featured speaker at many seminars. He also helped make new law in Tennessee before the Tennessee Supreme Court in the case of Moreno v. City of Clarksville, 479 S.W.3d 795 (Tenn. 2015), a matter of first impression in the state, which further defined the boundaries of sovereign immunity.
In his free time, Jeff enjoys fishing and playing the guitar. A lifelong guitar player and former guitar teacher, Jeff has played in numerous bands over the years and even alongside professional musicians in Memphis and Nashville. His favorite pastime, however, is going to the beach with his family.
- Represented the City of Clarksville in Moreno v. City of Clarksville, 479 S. W. 3d 795 (Tenn. 2015), a case of first impression in Tennessee, in which the Tennessee Supreme Court further defined the boundaries of sovereign immunity from suit. This case helped limit the situations in which you can successfully sue a local governmental entity for a tort.
- King v. Montgomery County, Tenn., 797 Fed.Appx. 949 (6th Cir. 2020), a case where Jeff successfully represented a police officer who was sued for an allegedly unconstitutional search and seizure. The officer entered a private residence without a warrant, but he did so in order to save several dogs from physical injury inside the premises. The King case is now one of the very few decisions in the Sixth Circuit applying the “exigent circumstances” exception (to the warrant requirement) to a scenario where an officer was protecting animals in peril inside a dwelling, as opposed to humans in peril (which is the typical scenario in which the exception applies).