Coupé works to protect city’s most vulnerable

Law Talk profile for The Memphis Daily News

May 2, 2013

As supervising attorney over both the Judge’s Action Center and the Office of Advocate for Noncustodial Parents at Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court, Tom Coupé works to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are being fairly and equally represented.

“The Judge’s Action Center started as an outreach to the public to assist them with any questions or concerns they have about the court,” Coupé said.

The Memphis native graduated from the University of Memphis in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. After graduating, he worked in the restaurant industry at varying capacities, saying, “While I enjoyed it, it wasn’t a good long-term plan for me.”

At the age of 29, he re-evaluated his goals and left town for the first time with a scholarship to the Southern Illinois School of Law. While in school, he planned to join the district attorney’s office and become a prosecutor, but a lack of opportunity at the time led him instead to the Shelby County Department of Children Services in 2004, where he began his legal career.

“I just kind of fell into that line of work,” Coupé said. “I never thought I was going to be a child welfare attorney, but here it is 10 years later and I’m certified as a child welfare law specialist and this is what I do and this is what I love.”

From Shelby County, he moved to Middle Tennessee to work with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services in Williamson County. The Judge’s Action Center was put into place in 2007, the year Coupé first began working with Juvenile Court. Prior to that he had traveled around the state as a court improvement attorney with the Administrative Office of Courts, training judges, lawyers and court personnel on best practices in child welfare law … (read more)