Holly Kirby

Supreme Court Justice
Sworn in by Governor Bill Haslam in September 2014, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby is the first graduate of the University of Memphis ever to sit on Tennessee’s highest court. A career jurist, Justice Kirby has authored well over a thousand opinions from appeals all across the state. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Kirby served for almost 19 years on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Tennessee’s intermediate appellate court for civil cases. She represented a gender milestone on the Court of Appeals—when she was appointed in 1995, she became the first woman ever to sit on that Court. A lifelong Tennessean, Justice Kirby was born in Memphis and graduated from high school in Columbia, Tennessee. As an undergraduate at the University of Memphis, she held a number of student leadership positions and graduated in 1979 with high honors, with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. In 1982, Justice Kirby graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law with high honors. Upon graduation, she served as a judicial law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After her clerkship, Justice Kirby joined the Memphis law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson, where she was active in politics and community service. When she was selected as partner in 1990, she became the firm’s first female partner. From the time of her appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1995 to the present, Justice Kirby has won 5 statewide elections, in 1996, 1998, 2006, 2014, and 2016. Justice Kirby was chosen as Outstanding Young Alumna for the University of Memphis in 1996, Outstanding Alumna for the University of Memphis College of Engineering in 2002, and Special Distinguished Alumna for the School of Law in 2016. She is married to Memphis businessman Russell Ingram and has two grown children. The family belongs to Idlewild Presbyterian Church.
Year Elected/Appointed
Prior Judicial Experience
  • Judicial law clerk to Honorable Harry W. Wellford, Sixth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1982-83.
  • Appointed in 1995 as the first woman to serve on the Court of Appeals. Won statewide retention elections in 1996, 1998, and 2006
  • Appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court effective September 1, 2014.
Previous Employment

Upon completing her judicial clerkship in 1983, Judge Kirby joined the Memphis law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson, where she specialized in employment litigation. In 1990, she was elected a partner, the firm's first female partner. She remained at Burch, Porter & Johnson until her appointment to the bench.

University of Memphis School of Law, 1982; Graduated third in class, Herff Scholar, Law Review Notes Editor
B.S. in Engineering, University of Memphis, 1979; Graduated first in College of Engineering class, Herff Scholar, Honors Alumni Scholar, Speaker of the student senate
  • Outstanding Young Alumna, The University of Memphis
  • Outstanding Alumna, The University of Memphis College of Engineering
  • Fellow, Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association
  • Board of Judicial Conduct, 2012-2014
  • Court of the Judiciary, member of independent ethics panel, 1998-2012
  • Council of State Governments, Interbranch Committee
  • Tennessee Judicial Conference, Executive Committee
  • Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission, 1989-94, chair, 1994
  • Leo Bearman Sr. American Inn of Court, 1995-98
  • Tennessee Bar Association
  • Tennessee Lawyers' Association for Women
  • Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association
  • Shelby County Association for Women Attorneys
Western Section
Contact Info

100 Peabody Place
Memphis, TN 38103
United States