Margaret “Maggy” Greenway, the new addition to the Hamblen County Public Defender office, arrived as a highly sought-after, newly licensed attorney – with a list of accomplishments more complete and varied than many older attorneys – as part of a program to stack the office with talent before the veteran coach moves into retirement.
Greenway belongs to the subset of attorneys who graduated from the University of Tennessee with an undergraduate degree in food and agriculture business; a preacher’s kid who played guitar and sang in bars while an undergraduate; studied international law at Cambridge University in England; volunteered to help veterans; and has lifelong affinity for boxing and mixed martial arts that led her to take up kickboxing.
Her more conventional accomplishments include serving as captain and coach of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity mock trial team that last year took first place in a competition and distinguishing herself as an intern at the Knox County Public Defender office.
Third Judicial District Public Defender Greg Eichelman says he selected Greenway from a list of five applicants, and she beat out her closest competitor, in part, on the high recommendation of Penny White, a University of Tennessee College of Law professor who serves as director of the school’s Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution.
“Have you noticed that I’m surrounding myself with young, brilliant people?” Eichelman asked. “The office is getting younger. I think Willie Santana is doing a great job … Anyone I hire is going to be interesting.”
Greenway graduated from law school on May 19. She sat the bar exam the last two days of July, and learned she’d passed on Oct. 4. Two weeks later, Criminal Court Judge John F. Dugger Jr. swore her in as a public defender, and she’s already attended her first public defender conference.
White’s grandfather was a wheat farmer in Kansas, and while she wasn’t raised on a thresher, she grew up knowing the importance of agriculture in American life. In her junior year at college, one of her classmates mentioned off-handedly that she was considering applying for law school.
“The light bulb went off – I can do that,” Greenway said. “I had always loved to argue. I thought it would be interesting. I loved the back-and-forth and investigating things. I like learning about a situation and cases are kind of like a puzzle, wondering where the pieces fit, coming up with the best arguments you can. I kind of seemed like a good fit for me.”
Greenway’s father was in the Air Force, her grandfather served in World War II and “more cousins and uncles than (she) can count” also served in the armed services. While attending college, one of her best friends was an active-duty Marine. This led her to enlist in Vols for Vets, an organization consisting of law students who help veterans.
“Obviously, we are seeing so many veterans today that have so many outstanding issues as a result of serving, mental and physical health issues, something I saw in family members growing up,” she said.
Greenway says she was undecided about what type of law she would practice until she got a limited law degree and began an internship with the public defender’s office in Knox County.
Eichelman says as his retirement in 2024 approached, he was faced with the question of whether to staff his office with experienced litigators or hire the best and brightest of younger attorneys. Eichelman’s latest hires are ample proof of the direction he chose.
“She is starting to practice law at the same time I did, age 26,” Eichelman said. “Everybody thought I was a little kid, so I can empathize with that … We’ll see what kind of trial lawyer she is not. That’s the other part of it.”