J.W. previously served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation under Governor Ned McWherter. He is a member of Butler Snow’s Business Department and practices within the Regulatory and Government group. J.W.’s practice includes representation in environmental, public utility, and other regulatory matters.  ​

Biography – View PDF Bio


Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1977
  • U.S. District Courts
    • Tennessee: Middle

Civic Involvement

  • Franklin First United Methodist Church
    • Former Member of Board of Trustees
  • Land Trust of Tennessee
    • Former Founding Board Member


  • Martindale-Hubbell®
    • AV®-Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business
    • Environment – Tennessee, 2010-2022
  • Best Lawyers in America®
    • Government Relations, 2008-2023
    • Litigation – Environmental, 2011-2023
    • Lawyer of the Year, 2013, 2019, 2022
  • Super Lawyers®
    • Mid-South Super Lawyer, Environmental, 2006, 2008-2020
  • Fellow, Tennessee Bar Association
  • Fellow, Nashville Bar Association
  • Nashville Business Journal
    • Best of the Bar, 2012
  • East Tennessee State University, College of Public Health
    • Humanitarian Scholar, 2012
  • Environmental Council of the States “ECOS”
    • Founding Member

Education & Honors

  • University of Tennessee, J.D., 1976
    • Student Bar Association – President
    • Phi Alpha Delta
  • Vanderbilt University, B.A., Economics, 1974


  • J.W. served in the Cabinet of former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter for 8 years.  During that time he was Commissioner of Personnel (1987-1988), Commissioner of the Department of Health and Environment (1988-1991) and then he created the concept for and obtained executive and legislative approval for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and he served as its first Commissioner from 1991-1995.
  • In private practice, in addition to working extensively on many environmental matters, such as the Turkey Creek Development in Knox County and more recently The Shoppes at Eagle Point in Cookeville, J.W. practices before the Tennessee Public Utility Commission, and has served as outside counsel to several Commissioners of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.  He represented families of two Tennessee victims of the 1996 ValuJet Crash in the Florida Everglades.  J.W. began his legal career serving as an Assistant District Attorney for 9 years in the old 14th Judicial District covering Coffee, Warren, DeKalb and Van Buren counties.