After beginning her legal career in 1976 at Legal Services of Middle Tennessee, Inc., Margaret Behm and Marietta Shipley founded Shipley and Behm in 1980, the city’s first all-woman law firm. Their offices were the meeting location for many women’s organizations founded in the 1980s, including CABLE, the Lawyer’s Association for Women (LAW), and the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus, as well as meetings for women’s political campaigns.
Behm started her law firm because she wanted to be an entrepreneur, as well as a lawyer who practiced in areas not traditionally practiced by women. “Back then, women just weren’t taken seriously as business owners or lawyers,” Behm says. “I wanted to run my own business and demonstrate that women could not only run a law firm, but also be good lawyers.”
Today, Behm’s practice concentrates on business transactions, employment, municipal law and estate planning. Behm also serves as General Counsel for the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
A big sports fan, Behm co-chaired Nashville’s successful effort to host the Women’s Final Four in 2014. She is a longtime board member of the Nashville Sports Council and founded and chaired its Women in Sports Committee. Currently, she is serving her second term as a board member of the Metropolitan Sports Authority, which oversees the professional sports facilities in Nashville. For many years, she loved coaching her now adult children’s basketball and soccer teams.
Behm has served on the board and executive committee of the YWCA and Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, Inc. and was a Girl Scout leader. From 1999 to 2008, Behm served as a member of the Board of Health for the Metropolitan Health Department. In 1994, Behm was appointed to and served for a decade on the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission and served as its first chair. In 2009, Behm was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court for a three-year term as chair of the newly-created Access to Justice Commission to help address the growing civil legal needs crisis in Tennessee. In 2017, the Supreme Court appointed her to the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. Margaret has also been a key advisor to numerous political candidates and is particularly known for her encouragement of, and support for, women candidates.
Behm’s advocacy has been recognized locally and nationally. In 2001, she received the John C. Tune Public Service Award, the highest honor given by the Nashville Bar Association. She has been honored with the YWCA Women of Achievement Award, the Athena Award, and the CABLE Promote Women Award. Behm has also received the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, given nationally to only five lawyers a year by the American Bar Association. She was named to the 2013 Class of the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. Behm has also received the 2016 Lawyers’ Association for Women Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey Award.
Behm received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee. She is married to her law partner Harlan Dodson, and they have two children.