Jim Cheek memory photoBass, Berry & Sims PLC is saddened to announce the passing of respected member James H. Cheek, III. Jim passed away on August 27, 2021 at the age of 78.  He was a legend in the legal industry, especially in the area of corporate and securities law, and he is remembered as an inspiring leader and mentor. His legal acumen and commitment to service and meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues, and friends have shaped our law firm, and his influence will remain central to our foundation for years to come.

“Jim was a defining individual of our firm identity and revered by many. While we mourn his passing, we are forever grateful for his years of dedicated service and friendship. Jim was among the greats of the national securities and corporate governance bar. He was a mentor whose legacy will be a lasting example of statesmanship and advocacy at our firm and within the legal industry at large,” said Todd Rolapp, managing partner of Bass, Berry & Sims. “We are incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege and honor of working alongside him. Our entire team is immeasurably better for the opportunity to have worked with him. We will miss him very much.”

Jim was a Nashville native and earned a national reputation in corporate and securities law over a career spanning 50 years. He graduated from Duke University (1964) before returning to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University School of Law (1967). He also earned a masters’ degree from Harvard Law School in 1968. Jim joined Bass, Berry & Sims in 1970 after working six summers trading stocks for Nashville investment firm J.C. Bradford and two years teaching at the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Jim counseled businesses in several historic local and national transactions, including the largest domestic leveraged buyout in history at its time. Jim served as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Legal Advisory Committee between 1989 and 1992, as well as the NYSE Regulatory Auditor between 2005 and 2013. He served as chairman of the Legal Advisory Board of the National Association of Securities Dealers from 1996 to 1998. In 2000, he was reportedly a favorite to be appointed Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in an Al Gore administration, and he was also considered for the position in 1993 during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Jim served as the chairman of the Nashville Airport Authority for a decade from 2003 to 2013. He was a founding fellow and served on the Board of Trustees of the American College of Governance Counsel. Additionally, Jim served in leadership roles in more than ten other impactful organizations, and earned a long list of accolades during his lifetime.

The clients Jim proudly represented included many of Nashville’s foundational entities as well as leading national institutions such as AutoZone, Bank of America, Genesco and HCA.

We would like to extend our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family and friends. The full obituary can be found here. Details about the memorial service on October 9 can be found here.

If you’d like to send condolences or memories that the firm will share with the family, please email tributes@bassberry.com. You can read some of the tributes and memories that have already been submitted here.

In November 2020, we put together our own special tribute to Jim in honor of his 50th anniversary with the firm. We wanted to share it with everyone.
Jim Cheek Tribute