Robert Echols is a Member in the firm's Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice Group. With 18 years of experience as a United States District Judge, he concentrates his practice on litigation, arbitration, mediation, dispute resolution alternatives and investigations. He is a listed certified Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 Mediator, a listed Mediator for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, a member of the American Arbitration Association's Roster of Neutrals for arbitration and mediation, the Judicial Settlement Conference Service Panel, the AAA Healthcare Payor Provider Judicial Arbitration Panel, and the ICDR International Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators. Robert also works with other practice areas of the firm. Prior to joining the firm, he served as Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee from 1992 to 2010 and as Chief Judge from 1998 to 2005.
Robert has a rich and well-established background in litigation on the federal and state levels. He has substantial experience in civil and criminal cases, both jury and non-jury. He has handled a broad variety of litigation, including cases involving banking and commercial matters, contracts, business disputes, class actions, securities, healthcare, discrimination, insurance, construction, real estate, wrongful death, products liability, insurance disputes, intellectual property rights, a variety of First Amendment and other constitutional law claims, as well as those arising out of federal regulations and statues such as the Medicare Act, False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and many others. In addition, Robert has counseled clients in complex class actions and multiple district cases with national and international implications, and others involving significant claims brought by and against the state and federal government. Also included were a variety of criminal cases, which required imposing punishment. For 13 years Robert served as one of the judges for the national appellant moot court finals on First Amendment issues sponsored by the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C. and Vanderbilt University Law School.
Robert began his legal career as a law clerk for Chief U.S. District Judge Marion S. Boyd in Memphis, Tennessee, and as a legislative assistant for Congressman Dan Kuykendall in Washington, D.C. He practiced with the Nashville-based law firm, Bailey, Ewing, Dale & Conner, and later was a founding partner of the law firm Dearborn & Ewing, where he practiced for 20 years.
During his career on the federal bench, Robert served as a member of the Judicial Branch Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Federal Judge Association, the Sixth Circuit Judicial Council, the Judicial Conference Planning Committee and the Tennessee State-Federal Judicial Council. Robert has served as a lecturer at numerous legal education seminars on a variety of subjects.
For nearly 35 years, Robert served in the Army National Guard and Army National Reserves, including the District of Columbia Army National Guard; the Judge Advocate General Corps in Washington, D.C.; and the Tennessee Army National Guard, until his retirement in 2001 with the rank of Brigadier General. During his military career, he received numerous medals of honor including the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Selective Service Distinguished Service Medal, among others. In 2007, Robert was appointed as a Civilian Aide At-Large to the Secretary of the Army, and he continues to serve in that capacity. He is a member of the Association of the United States Army, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Tennessee National Guard Association. In 2012, Robert was appointed to serve as chair of the newly formed Veterans Committee of the Nashville Bar Association.
Robert has also served in a variety of professional, education, community service and philanthropic organizations. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity and has served on the boards of other professional and civic organizations including the Nashville Bar Association, Tennessee Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, University of Tennessee College of Law Advisory Council and the Dean's Circle, University of Tennessee Athletics Board, Family and Children's Service of Nashville, Investors Savings and Loan Association, Matthew Walker Health Center, United Way, McNeilly Day Home, Brentwood Academy and Ensworth School.