Dawn Coppock: Building families one by one

Sandra ClarkJefferson, Northeast Knox, Our Town Leaders

How many lawyers with statewide credentials are practicing daily in Strawberry Plains? Just one that we know. That’s Dawn Coppock who lives on a farm, loves blackberry pie and has raised some wonderful kids of her own.


Coppock has a dedicated office at her place – way ahead of the pandemic. She (modestly) calls herself Tennessee’s leading adoption attorney. Well, she did write the book: Coppock on Tennessee Adoption Law, now in its 7th edition.

Coppock on TN Adoptions, editions 1-7

She has represented adoptive, foster and birth parents as well as the occasional relative or social service agency and even other adoption attorneys in Tennessee.

Dawn’s parents were educators. Martha Coppock worked for Knox County Schools, while Jim Coppock was a business professor at Carson-Newman. After graduating from Holston High School, Dawn earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Carson-Newman and a juris doctorate in law from The College of William and Mary.

Dawn and her husband, Kyle Kleinhans, have a blended family of three adult children.

A hobby (besides those blackberry pies), is legislative advocacy. Recently, she has alerted citizens to HB 200 and SB 205 – companion bills to expand the factors a court may consider in determining whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. Read the synopsis here.

This is a compassionate, child-centered bill that includes language like, “the prompt and permanent placement of the child in a safe environment is presumed to be in the child’s best interest” and “the court will consider whether there is criminal activity in the home or by the parent, or the use of alcohol, controlled substances … which may render the parent unable to consistently care for the child in a safe and stable manner.”

Dawn Coppock enjoys lobbying and legislation

A while back, Coppock was running the roads to Nashville to lobby for a bill that preserved Tennessee mountaintops. In a unique approach, Coppock and her friends, aka the church ladies, use scripture to fight Big Coal, frequently quoting Leviticus 25:23: “The land shall not be sold for ever; for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”

Just don’t mistake Dawn Coppock for a creampuff.

Dawn is an aggressive warrior for children and families – a formidable adversary in litigation when that’s what is called for – and a skillful mediator, guiding people from far apart to common ground.

She is a Fellow in the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and serves on the executive committee of the Tennessee Bar Association Adoption Committee. She trains other lawyers and adoption professionals, consults with other lawyers, and is a certified Rule 31 Family Law Mediator.

Leadership Tips: She sums up her philosophy this way: “Dawn takes an aggressive stance in contested litigation because if you seek the child’s best interest, you don’t need to be timid. And if what you seek is not in the child’s best interest, you don’t need to call Dawn.”

Yes, Dawn Coppock is my friend and has been for over 30 years. If you want to talk, reach her at 865-933-8173, email questions@dawncoppock.com or just drive to Strawberry Plains and sniff out a homemade blackberry pie.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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