Meet the Barrister – Kati Goodner

A periodic Q & A session with a Lewis Thomason (LT) lawyer

Lewis Thomason: If you were ruler of your own country, what would be the first law you would introduce?
Kati Goodner: Harsher penalties for parole violations. Sorry, the first thing that popped into my mind was that question from Miss Congeniality. That’s a tough question. One issue I see regularly is the exorbitant cost and lack of uniformity between states (and even county to county in Tennessee) when it comes to adopting a child. I believe our children deserve better, and I think so many more families would be open to adoption if the legal hurdles and costs were not so significant. My law would be that any adoption – private or public – would be subsidized by the government at no cost to the adopting families.

Lewis Thomason: What is the most interesting think you can see out of your office?
Kati Goodner: Every protest march that comes from the Federal Courthouse to Market Square.

Lewis Thomason: What is one thing you will never do again?
Kati Goodner: I try to never say never … because that’s usually an invitation for it to happen.

Lewis Thomason: What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you?
Kati Goodner: While studying abroad in Venice in college, our resident professor arranged for us to have tea with the proprietors of the Guggenheim Museum. The next day, he got a call from the wife asking for “the blond girl”. I was the only blonde girl. Turned out that their son was flying in from Oxford with a couple of friends and needed a date for one of them to the Save Venice Carnivale Ball. So I had a blind date with a guy to one of the biggest and most exclusive balls for Carnivale that year. I still can’t believe I got to do that, and I still have my mask and ball gown I had to purchase for the event.

Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite (or most common) way to procrastinate on the internet?
Kati Goodner: Catching up on the news.

Lewis Thomason: Tell us about a tough decision early in your career and how it helps you today.
Kati Goodner: I think you always remember the lessons you learn the hard ways. I made the mistake of taking on a client my first year of practice because I bought the sad story she was selling. She turned out to be a very, very difficult client, who refused to pay her bills. I’ve heard Larry Giordano call these situations “stray dogs and cats,” and I think that’s a great metaphor. That early mistake helps me try and check my sympathy at the door when evaluating whether or not the client is one I want to represent.

Lewis Thomason: How have your goals changed over time?
Kati Goodner: A 10:30 bedtime has moved to the top 5.

Lewis Thomason: Describe your most memorable moment in a deposition or trial.
Kati Goodner: A couple of years ago, I had to take the deposition of a young woman who was the Plaintiff in a statutory rape case. She was 19, and for various reasons there were multiple parties involved. Due to the nature of her claims, I had to ask incredibly personal questions of this young woman for about 5 hours, and there were many episodes of tears. It became very clear early on that she was terrified and had not been prepped at all for what to expect, but she connected with me and opened up in a way I never expected. It struck me that despite the fact that I was the attorney putting her through these though questions, as the only other woman in the room, she saw me as her ally. It was a reminder for me that compassion can never be underestimated when working with opposing parties or witnesses, and that you will often be able to get what you need to represent your client zealously without assuming that the other side is the enemy. On a less sappy note, it was also a great reminder to make sure to prep your client and pay attention to what has been produced in discovery. She gave great deposition testimony for my client, primarily because her attorney had not bothered to review discovery or spend time preparing her for what to expect.

Lewis Thomason: What is your favorite family vacation?
Kati Goodner: I absolutely love to ski. Jackson Hole, WY and Wengen, Switzerland are two of my favorite spots.

Lewis Thomason: What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Kati Goodner: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds. You can almost always find them in my desk, my purse, my work bag, or pretty much wherever I am.


Kati Sanford GoodnerKati Goodner is a member of Lewis Thomason’s Business & Commercial and Tax Practice Groups and is based in the firm’s Knoxville office. Commercial Litigation and Tax Controversy are Kati’s primary focus, although her experience and practice routinely includes Estate and Trust Litigation, Conservatorships, and the representation of small businesses in matters ranging from formation issues to shareholder disputes and litigation. After building her practice defending pharmaceutical and products liability cases, Kati transitioned her litigation practice to the commercial and tax realm, where she represents taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service in both civil and criminal tax matters. She is adept at handling complex litigation, having significant experience in numerous MDL cases, both in Tennessee and across the country, and routinely works with experts ranging from accountants to highly-specialized physicians and professional engineers.

A small, but important, niche portion of her practice includes adoptions, both domestic and international.

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