Justice Holly Kirby was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to the Tennessee Supreme Court in December 2013 and was sworn in on September 1, 2014. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Kirby served for over 18 years on the Tennessee Court of Appeals. When she was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1995, she became the first woman ever to sit on that Court.
A lifelong Tennesseean, Justice Kirby graduated from the University of Memphis magna cum laude with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. She graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 1982 with high honors, and is the first graduate of the University of Memphis ever to sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Upon graduation, Justice Kirby served as judicial law clerk to Judge Harry Wellford on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She then joined the Memphis firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson, where she became the firm's first female partner.
While in private practice, Justice Kirby was appointed to the Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission, and served as its Chair. During her tenure with the Court of Appeals, she served first for the Court of the Judiciary and then for the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Tennessee Bar Foundation, and the Memphis Bar Foundation. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Memphis Bar Association, the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women, and the Memphis Association for Women Attorneys.
Justice Kirby has received several awards: Outstanding Young Alumna for the University of Memphis, Outstanding Alumna for the University of Memphis College of Engineering, the Memphis Association for Women Attorneys' Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award, and the Women In Numbers Distinguished Leadership Award. The Tennessee Justice Center selected Justice Kirby as Community Mother of the Year.