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Donna Smith

Donna Smith of Smith, Higgins & Lehberger, PLLC, An East Tennessee Law FirmOriginally from Atlanta, Donna H. Smith graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law and practices as a family law attorney in Knoxville and surrounding counties in East Tennessee. Licensed to practice law in the state of Tennessee since 1999, Ms. Smith is also licensed to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern District and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Smith’s law practice focuses on the areas of divorce, child custody and co-parenting, child support, alimony, paternity, and dependency and neglect proceedings in the Juvenile Courts. In addition to her practice as a skilled litigator, Ms. Smith is a Rule 31 certified Family Mediator and devotes much of her time assisting other attorneys and their clients in resolving their legal disputes in an amicable fashion.

Ms. Smith’s accomplishments include a two-year tenure as Visiting Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she taught Family Law. Ms. Smith also served as an Adjunct Professor at the U.T. Legal Clinic for nearly a decade, supervising third-year law students in their representation of victims of domestic violence. Ms. Smith has also been featured as a speaker at state conferences on domestic violence, and she has been recognized by the YWCA Victims Advocacy Program. She has been honored with the Bernstein-Richie Award from the U.T. Legal Clinic for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Sarah Swanson Higgins

Sarah Swanson Higgins of Smith, Higgins & Lehberger, PLLC, An East Tennessee Law FirmSarah Swanson Higgins is originally from Pennsylvania, but has additionally lived in South Carolina, California, Iowa, Maryland, and Georgia, finally making East Tennessee her home for the last thirty (30) years. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in history and obtained her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. Sarah was licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia in 1984 and was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1986.

Sarah is an experienced litigator, practicing family law, including divorce, child custody and support, domestic violence, adoption, as well as Juvenile Court matters regarding paternity, dependence and neglect. Sarah is licensed to practice in all Tennessee State Courts and the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Her practice focuses primarily in Knox and the surrounding counties in East Tennessee.

Since becoming a Rule 31 Listed Family Mediator in 2002, her experience and knowledge of the law has been proven countless times as she assisted attorneys and their clients in amicably resolving their legal disputes. From 2001 to 2015, Sarah frequently sat as Special Master in the Fourth Circuit Court for Knox County, hearing Orders of Protection, as well as having been appointed to hear divorce and co-parenting matters. Sarah has been a speaker on domestic violence issues at the General Sessions Judges’ Conference and at local bar association and paralegal group presentations.


Jo Ann Lehberger

Jo Ann Lehberger of Smith, Higgins & Lehberger, PLLC, An East Tennessee Law FirmJo Ann Lehberger retired as a Family Court Judge in Lexington, Kentucky and returned to her hometown of Knoxville in 2013. While on the bench, Jo Ann became the Chair of the Fayette Family Court, a position she held until she retired. She presided over cases involving divorce, child custody, visitation, alimony and support, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, paternity, juvenile status offenses, child abuse and neglect, and adoption. Additionally, Jo Ann was involved in numerous projects to improve the court and the community, such as the Model Court project for families and children in dependency, neglect and abuse court, truancy court, the Civil Rules Initiative of the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Mayor’s Commission on Youth Development and Public Safety and the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team.

Before taking the bench, Jo Ann practiced civil and family law litigation for 18 years. Her practice focused on representing individuals involved in divorce, child custody, child visitation and child support litigation. She served as chair of the family law section of the Kentucky Bar Association and the Fayette County Bar Association and as a member of the Kentucky Legislature’s Special Task Force on Parenting and Child Custody.

Jo Ann is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Kentucky and is a Rule 31 certified Family Mediator. Jo Ann is also trained in the collaborative method of resolving divorce cases, and is a founding member of the East Tennessee Collaborative Alliance and a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. She enjoys using her experience and passion for family law to effectively and respectfully resolve family issues. In addition to her private practice with Smith, Higgins & Lehberger, Jo Ann is an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law Domestic Violence Clinic, where she teaches and supervises student lawyers who provide pro bono representation to domestic violence victims in Order of Protection court.