History

Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella, PC, traces its roots to several of Nashville’s most respected law firms. Today, the firm proudly continues its heritage of professionalism while maintaining its own demonstrated commitment to public service.

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Partners Harlan Dodson III and Paul Parker began their legal careers with the Nashville firm of Hooker, Keeble, Dodson & Harris. A small practice, it earned a reputation for excellent service and proactive community engagement. Harlan Dodson III grew up in this tradition, inspired by his father, Harlan Dodson Jr.’s, example. The senior Dodson was instrumental in the formation of Metro government in Nashville; his son has served on the Metro Charter Revision Committee and helped launch another Metro government in Moore County. In 1985, father and son formed Dodson and Associates, soon regarded as among the top law firms in the city.

Like Dodson, Margaret L. Behm was influenced by the law at an early age. Her mother’s work as a legal secretary in a small Murfreesboro firm left a lasting impression on Behm, who still favors the small-town, small-firm style of practice with which she grew up. As a young attorney, Behm was determined to carry out the legal profession’s commitment to service while challenging the traditional barriers women faced in practicing law.

Behm worked with Legal Services of Middle Tennessee, wrote and lobbied on behalf of a number of groundbreaking bills, and then decided to take an enormous risk. In 1980, she and Marietta Shipley established Nashville’s first all-women law firm, Shipley and Behm. In 1988, they merged their firm with Dodson & Associates to form Dodson, Parker, Shipley & Behm. In 1990, Shipley was elected to the Second Circuit Court bench, leaving the firm for full-time public service.

Another important part of Dodson, Parker, Behm, & Capparella’s history is its relationship with Richard Dinkins. A member of Nashville’s first African-American law firm, Williams & Dinkins, Dinkins represented the plaintiffs in the Metro schools desegregation case, among other landmark cases. Williams & Dinkins merged with Dodson, Parker & Behm in 1999, with a commitment, as Dinkins said, “to serving persons and issues that are not generally part of the mainstream.” Continuing the firm’s tradition of public service, Dinkins left in 2003 when he was appointed Chancellor for Davidson County.

Today, Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella, PC continues its dedication to excellence in the practice of almost all the areas of law that affect the lives and livelihoods of Middle Tennesseans it maintains its dedication to diversity, the service of others, community activism, and social justice.

“I’m proud that the faces of our law firm look like the faces of Nashville,” says Margaret Behm. “Our firm has two major assets – our clients and our employees. Everything we do, our entire reputation, rests on these assets.”