Mr. Downard worked for the Social Security Administration for over 11 years prior to receiving his law degree. Since then, he has spent another 14 years handling Social Security and Disability cases. That’s nearly 25 years of direct experience working both for and against the Social Security Administration. Our current attorney profiles and staff members are listed below.

At Downard & Associates, our team of attorneys and staff bring similar experience to our other areas of practice as well, including criminal defense, domestic relations, personal injury, and more. Contact us today for more information.

Our goal at Downard & Associates, PLLC is to treat every client with the respect every person deserves. We focus our talents on helping the person and not just handling the case. As our client, you can expect us to resolve your issue promptly in the most favorable manner possible.

Downard & Associates, PLLC is made up of real lawyers working hard for real people. We are not a law firm made of stuffy lawyers, but a team of professionals dedicated to helping our community.


David Downard, Firm President

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Hello, my name is David Downard. I was born in Springfield, Tennessee in 1968. I would like to tell you why the Disability Program is important to me. My father died when I was (12) twelve years old, and I was raised by my grandparents. I received Social Security Benefits which, in turn, financially helped me graduate high school.

After I graduated high school, I went to college. While in college, I was married. We had a son that was born with a disability. I worked full time, but we still qualified for SSI and Medicaid. His medical bills were paid (in excess of $1,000,000.00) while I was able to graduate. He died of heart failure in 1991. That year, I decided to work for the Social Security Administration and started as a service representative.

At the same time, my grandmother applied for disability and was denied. I had no idea how to help her win. She gave up on trying to get her disability. She was (60) sixty years old.  I continued working for the Social Security Administration. After awhile, I knew I could help people fight for disability. I enrolled in law school and graduated in 2002.

Since then, I have committed myself to disabled people who need guidance to obtain the monetary and medical benefits they deserve.

Thank you,
David C. Downard

Robert Parker, Attorney and Technical Issue Manager

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Mr. Parker is an associate with the firm and has been an integral member of our team for over 11 years. His practice focuses primarily in the areas of Social Security Disability/SSI, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Medical Malpractice, and Veteran’s Disability Claims. He is accredited by the VA to represent Veterans in the preparation, presentation and prosecution of claims for VA Benefits.

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Mr. Parker obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Lambuth University in 2004 and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 2008 from the Nashville School of Law.

Bobby Parker has successfully litigated multiple cases for auto accident victims and disability clients.

Mr. Parker is a member of the Nashville Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before all Tennessee trial and appellate courts.

Chelsea Parker, Attorney

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A native of Pulaski, Tennessee, Chelsea Parker is an associate of the firm. She received her B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009. While in college, she gained experience as an intern with the Office of the Public Defender. In 2010, she began working for Downard and Associates as a Legal Assistant and attending Nashville School of Law after work in the evenings. She graduated from Nashville School of Law in 2013 and was admitted to practice law in Tennessee in 2014. She has now been with us for over 9 years.

Her practice focuses primarily in the area of Social Security Disability/SSI. She currently resides in Brentwood with her husband and enjoys volunteering as a preschool leader at their church.

Ray Akers, Attorney

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Cumberland University, Cum Laude. 2004 Nashville School of Law

Prior legal experience: Family Law, General Business Law, Criminal Law, and Civil Litigation serving primarily Wilson, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, and Williamson Counties.

– Admission to Practice: Tennessee Supreme Court
– Admission to Practice: United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee
– Admission to Practice: United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
– Admission to Practice: United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee
– Trained Family Mediator – Supreme Court Listed 2011-2015

Robyn Ryan, Attorney

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Ms. Ryan is a native of Northeast Arkansas. She attended Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2004. During her time at Hendrix, Ms. Ryan studied abroad at Oxford University in Oxford, England, where she studied British literature. Following college, she attended the University of Arkansas School of Law, from which she received her Juris Doctor in 2007.

Ms. Ryan is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Kentucky. She is also admitted to practice federal law in both the Western and Middle Districts of Tennessee. Ms. Ryan’s primary area of practice is Social Security Disability law. She has been assisting claimants in their fight for disability benefits for almost a decade and has attended thousands of disability hearings at this juncture in her career. Ms. Ryan is passionate about being the best advocate she can be for her clients and strives to make the burdensome process as comfortable as she can for them.

Ms. Ryan currently resides in Memphis, TN. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.


Your Name (required)

Who is Disabled? (required)

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Phone Number

Email Address

Already receiving Social Security benefits?

Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy)

Marital Status

What health/medical condition that prevents applicant from working?

Will a doctor verify that you are not able to work?

Have you ever applied for Social Security Benefits?

If yes, when were you last denied?

Did you appeal?

If yes when?

Do you HAVE an attorney assisting you with this matter?

IMPORTANT: Most initial applications for SSD are denied. Would you like an attorney to call for a FREE NO-COST evaluation?

Support Staff

Lonna Downard, Operations Manager

Lonna Downard moved to Nashville after getting her degree in business from Ivytech State College in 1999.  Throughout her career she has achieved many merit awards and business-related certifications.  Lonna has an extensive background in business operations and expert customer care.  She has over 14 years professional experience in the legal field helping people in need.  Lonna is committed to providing superior service to our clients and the community.

Karen K. Chapman, Legal Assistant/Office Manager of Jackson Office

Karen is a graduate of Lambuth University with a Bachelor of Science Degree. She has been part of our team for over 9 years.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Kelly Jones, Paralegal

Kelly graduated from Franklin High School and pursued a career in paralegal while working for a personal injury attorney in Columbia, Tennessee from 2008 – 2014. Ms. Jones can truly empathize with what clients are going through. In 2007, she and her sons were in an automobile accident, which resulted in horrific injuries. She knows firsthand, just how it feels and therefore, gets extreme satisfaction in helping others receive the best results possible from their accidents and injuries.

Legal Support Areas: Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation and Auto Accidents.

Martha A. Ruehle, Paralegal / Case Manager

Martha has 34 years experience as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal. She has assisted to help recover compensation for clients in the following areas: personal injury, medical malpractice, insurance defense, workers’ compensation, real estate, probate, juvenile court and social security disability administration. She worked as the Assignment clerk to a Chief Criminal Court Judge (multi county) for two years. She served 11 years as a paralegal/office manager for a family law firm, as well as 4 years with a private investigation firm handling criminal defense cases.

Samantha Gray, Receptionist / Intake Specialist / Appeals Specialist

A graduate of White House High School, her experience includes customer service and medical collections.

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Mike Jensen, Intake Specialist, Documents Specialist

Graduated Gallatin High School in 1996. Graduated Vol State in 2001 with Associates degree in University Studies.

Attended Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University; majoring in History and minoring in Political Science

Legal Support Areas: Social Security Disability

Brandon Chapman, Legal Assistant

Graduate of Jackson State Community College with Associates degree.  Currently pursuing Bachelor’s degree. Served 6 years as a Combat Engineer with the Tennessee National Guard with a tour of duty in Iraq.

Nita Palmer, Receptionist

Baby D, Team Mascot

Baby D is our team mascot. He supports the staff and clients with lots of love and laughter.

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