For more than 40 years, Harlan Dodson has been helping people and businesses solve problems and plan for the future. Clients seeking general business advice, estate planning services, or problem solving and advice generally count on his vast experience and track record of getting the job done.
Dodson provides hands-on guidance for his clients, whether working with them to launch a business, structure a complex real estate deal, or draft a will. He learned this dedication from his attorney father. As he puts it, “My father understood that the profession of law is about helping people. Watching him, I learned that clients need someone who can not only draw up papers but who also can give practical advice on solving problems and preparing for the future.”
Dodson went to college at Duke University and then came home to Nashville to study law at Vanderbilt. During law school, he served as associate editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and as a member of the National Moot Court Team. Upon graduation, he joined his father’s firm, Hooker, Keeble, Dodson & Harris. In 1985, he founded Dodson & Associates, and the firm merged with Shipley & Behm in 1988.
He has personally been involved in starting and building a number of businesses over the years and credits those experiences – good and bad – for his practical advice in guiding business clients. He enjoys helping businesses start small and grow. He has been there and has experienced the issues they will face.
Dodson was named the Best Lawyers® 2013 Nashville Commercial Transactions/UCC Law “Lawyer of the Year,” and, for the 2019 edition of the publication Best Lawyers in America©, he is listed in the fields of Commercial Transactions/UCC Law, Corporate Law, Trust and Estates Litigation, and Non-Profit/Charities Law.
Dodson is a frequent speaker and writer on business entities, and especially limited liability companies, as well as on wills and estate planning. He has taught Estate Planning at the Nashville School of Law since 1975, where he was presented with the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2007. Dodson has also served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.
He is the founder and co-author of Introduction to Estate Planning and Administration in Tennessee, the definitive textbook on the subject matter and an indispensable source of reference for attorneys throughout the state. Each year, Dodson revises the text to reflect developments in the law, particularly in the area of tax consequences. The book is yet another example of Dodson’s commitment to common-sense problem solving. It is the only work of its kind designed to serve as a single authoritative source for both students and practitioners in Tennessee.
He is also the editor to the West Publishing Company’s Tennessee Practice Series volumes on business formation and estate planning. Additionally, he continues to be a lecturer for the bar review company BAR-BRI on wills and estates, which means that virtually every applicant to the Tennessee bar for more than two decades has relied upon his knowledge. Thousands of attorneys in this state have benefited from his innovative methods—such as using 1990s dance-craze “The Macarena” to teach intestate succession.