Lindsay Graham, Attorney

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. - L. Watson

Meet the Defenders

I’m grateful to be in an office that practices client-centered representation and empowers me to fight for my clients’ stories to be told, heard, and valued. I am a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Law, where I received a doctorate of jurisprudence with a concentration in advocacy and dispute resolution. I was the recipient of the Robert W. Richie scholarship for criminal defense, an honoree for extraordinary academic achievement in Advanced Constitutional Law, and the highest-placed solo participant in the Ray H. Jenkins Trial Competition (2nd place).

I have dedicated my entire professional career to public service. That love began in childhood. I was a founding member of Wilson County (TN) Teen Court and an active volunteer and camp counselor for Empower Me Day Camp, an accessible day camp for disabled children. While attending the UTK College of Law, I provided post-conviction representation for clients through the Tennessee Innocence and Wrongful Convictions Clinic. I was the recipient of the UT Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, the highest award for pro bono service.

I always wanted to be a public defender because I witnessed first-hand how the 13th Amendment has perpetuated systems of oppression, violence, and enslavement. As an assistant public defender in six counties, rural and urban, I’ve served the citizens of Tennessee in juvenile, general sessions, and criminal court. I have argued twice at the Court of Criminal Appeals and once at the Tennessee Supreme Court. I have found the words of Angela Davis ring true no matter what courtroom or county I am in: “Prison does not disappear social problems; it disappears human beings.”

I currently serve our most vulnerable and precious community: children and their families in Juvenile Court as a criminal defense lawyer and a court-appointed guardian ad litem in disputed custody cases or cases with an allegation of potential abuse and neglect. I know kids are more likely to be arrested if they are BIPOC, suffer from a disability, or have been exposed to possible abuse or neglect. That’s why it’s important to find community-based solutions that work to meet children and families where they are and avoid carceral systems whenever possible.

I’m a proud student of Tennessee public schools from kindergarten through post-graduate school. I attended Middle Tennessee State University and obtained a bachelor’s of science in Psychology before graduating from the UT Knoxville College of Law. While in grade school, I received free and reduced lunches, special accommodations in school, support from disabled student services in college, entitlement assistance from the state and non-profits, and counted on Pell grants to go to college. I faced housing insecurity as a child, and I’m proof positive that investing in underserved and marginalized communities is an investment in our future and each other.

My life has been deeply impacted by trauma, addiction, incarceration, poverty, mental and health concerns. I’m no different from my clients and believe revolution starts with folks who are willing to think creatively and envision radical new approaches to the community and our neighbors. I listen to the indigenous communities who should be stewarding our land and know that there are alternatives to our oppressive systems of mass incarceration and understand those alternatives are rooted in radical empathy. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. aptly noted, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly.”

Every client I serve deserves basic human dignity, support, love, and freedom to exercise autonomy for themselves and their bodies. Research shows that crime rates go down when people’s basic needs are met with safe and affordable housing, accessible public transit, fully funded public schools, and access to medical, mental, and substance use treatment. We know that evidence-based interventions in childhood, quality accommodations for disabled and neurodivergent people and students, nutritious food, and monetary support for needy children and families help support foundations that reduce contact with the criminal legal system.

I continue serving my community now by volunteering for Harmony Wildlife Rehab and through community engagement events with the Nashville Defenders. I’m proudly neurodivergent and a deep lover of my family, second chances, gardening, the Tennessee wilderness, and my plant and animal teachers. I know that no matter how small or fragile, all of my neighbors and clients have something to teach me. I approach all my clients with the perspective articulated by Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

I look forward to working together with you.