GMSD General Counsel Valerie Speakman named to 2021 Best of the Bar in recognition of being an outstanding talent in the Memphis Area

Germantown, Tennessee--August 12, 2021--Germantown Municipal School District is happy to announce that its own General Counsel, Valerie Speakman, has been named to the Memphis Business Journal’s Best of the Bar--an annual award honoring the top legal minds in the Memphis area.  Ms. Speakman serves as GMSD’s in-house legal counsel and we could not think of a more deserving recipient for 2021 Best of the Bar recognition.

Valerie SpeakmanValerie Speakman has thirty-three years of legal experience and has practiced law in the U.S. District Courts in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas, the 11th, 4th, 6th, 9th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeal, Tennessee state courts, and before the National Labor Relations Board and other administrative tribunals.  After representing many private sector clients throughout the Country in regard to labor and employment matters and representing education clients, Speakman was named the first General Counsel for the Shelby County Board of Education in 2007.  In 2016, Speakman was named the first General Counsel for Arlington Community Schools during its third year of operation.  After many years of contracting with Germantown Municipal Schools, Speakman joined the GMSD family as its in-house counsel in July of 2021.“It is wonderful to have someone with the knowledge and expertise of Ms. Speakman on staff,” said Superintendent Jason Manuel.  And, Ms. Speakman is a powerful advocate for children and public education.  During her career, she has represented clients in many types of cases including but not limited to: NLRA, ADA, ADEA, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1970, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and State and Federal constitutional law issues.  “As our district navigates many of the new laws and challenges brought about by new laws, Ms. Speakman keeps us ahead of the legal curve--getting out in front of laws that are coming through that will impact our students, our staff, or our community,” echoed Deputy Superintendent Josh Cathey.

Cathey, who nominated Speakman for the recognition also wrote of her demeanor and drive, “Ms. Speakman has a genuine passion for the work. While one of her roles is to keep us compliant with the law, she also has a genuine heart for our students, staff, and community. This is evident in the legal recommendations she makes for the District. It is very rare to find an attorney that does have the legal expertise that she does, while also having genuine compassion for the stakeholders she serves”.

“We feel fortunate to work with a true expert in their field,” said Assistant Superintendent Sarah Huffman, who has worked with Ms. Speakman for several years.  “Her commitment and dedication to all stakeholders within Germantown goes far beyond what’s expected of her. She is accessible, caring, ready to listen, and problem solve all things brought her way. She is an asset to the community and I’m lucky to call her co-worker and friend. This award is deserving and long overdue. Mrs. Speakman is the BESt of the BEST,” she added.