Two middleâ€aged women graduated from the University of Tennessee Law School in October 1974. Since no one would hire them, Ann Mostoller and Dorothy Stulberg formed a partnership and set up their own law practice as Mostoller and Stulberg. They were surprised when the local Bank of Oak Ridge was willing to lend them $2,000 as startâ€up money without requiring their husbandsâ€™ signatures. The women rented space in the Cappiello Building on Tulsa Avenue and began to practice law. In their case, they were truly â€œpracticing.â€
Some local folks were willing to trust them with their wills and other legal matters. The new attorneys served lowâ€income clients by offering divorces at fees based on incomes. The partners accepted appointments to criminal cases. Although women in law was an anomaly at that time, several male attorneys in the area were willing to assist them, for which the women were extremely grateful.
After about a year, the women were appointed to serve as public defenders in Anderson County. During this one-year appointment, the new attorneys became experienced with criminal jury trials. Although they did not continue to practice criminal law, the appointment provided good experience and good exposure both for the attorneys and the public.
During the first few years of practice, the women represented Vickie Cape in her challenge to the halfâ€court basketball rules then followed in Tennessee. Federal Judge Robert Taylor ruled in favor of Vickie, but the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) appealed the decision, and the case was reversed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the next year, TSSAA changed the rules, and women have continued to play full-court basketball ever since.
As Ann and Dorothy developed their practice, they focused on the areas of Social Security disability law, bankruptcy, wills, probate, and other miscellaneous areas of legal concern. Ann became a certified bankruptcy specialist. Ann serves not only debtors, but was appointed as one of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees for the eastern district of Tennesseeâ€™s federal court in Knoxville, a position she has held since 1988.
In 1995, the firm expanded to include Judith Whitfield, another early female attorney in Anderson County. Judy practices domestic relations law. Her sister, Elaine Robinson, serves as Judyâ€™s paralegal.
A few years later, William Allen joined the firm. He had been a longâ€time attorney with Rural Legal Services. He is experienced in consumer law, as well as Social Security disability law and education law, with an emphasis on special education cases. When Dorothy retired, Bill took over her Social Security disability practice. Paralegal Alice Moore serves as his assistant.
Dorothyâ€™s death in 2011 was a tremendous loss for everyone who knew her.
Hannah Tippett joined the firm in 2009 as an associate. Hannah was born and raised in Malawi. She attended college in Indiana and law school at the University of Tennessee. Hannah helps with the bankruptcy work and has expanded her practice to include conservatorship and Social Security disability.
Celia Hastings is an attorney licensed in Michigan and federal court. Since 2008, she has handled a lot of the firmâ€™s research and brief preparation, as well as representing Ann in federal court in her capacity as a bankruptcy trustee. Celia also handles Social Security disability cases.
Tracey Williams recently graduated from the Nashville School of Law and is now an associate with the firm. She has been with the firm for more than 13 years. She serves as trustee assistant to Ann in her capacity as bankruptcy trustee and also does criminal and personal injury work.
Annâ€™s daughter Katy Everitt is the firmâ€™s bankruptcy paralegal, preparing legal documents for our bankruptcy clients, sorting through mounds of paper, and generally keeping the bankruptcy work on track.
Kathy Townsend is the firmâ€™s paralegal for wills and probate. She prepares documents, answers many questions, and generally helps people execute their documents and get them filed with the court. Kathy has been with the firm for more years than she would care to share.
Laura Hayden is the firmâ€™s amazing office manager. She does all the things lawyers are loathe to do, and does them cheerfully and well. She supervises Hillary Kershaw and Nancy Brown, who serve as office receptionists and generally keep the office running.
Please come by the law office to say hello during their 40th anniversary celebration on Tuesday, November 11, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The office is located at 136 South Illinois Avenue, Suite 104, in the twoâ€story building next to Sherwinâ€Williams.
See a newspaper article from October 22, 1974,Â on the opening of the law practice by Dorothy Bonnell Stulberg and Ann R. Mostoller:Â Mostoller and Stulberg Law Firm Opening.