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An 18-year Juvenile Court veteran left his job this week to build a private law practice.

"When you get to be 50 years old and looking at retirement," mused Chris Albright, former juvenile court administrator, "I suddenly realized that if I was going to go back to private practice of law, I was going to have to do so pretty quickly."

Albright started working at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court as a part-time courts referee before being promoted to court director and then administrator.

In a phone message to the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Wednesday, Albright laughed at the repeated calls to his home for comment.

"Nothing bad; it was just simple. I resigned, and am going back to practice law," he said. "An opportunity came up, so I took it."

Court directors Sam Mairs and George Lenoir will split Albright's duties of running the day-to-day operations of the courts for presiding Judge Suzanne Bailey.

Mairs has worked alongside Albright since the pair started nearly two decades ago.

"He did a great job," Mairs said. "He has offered to help me find my way through this. I'll miss him; his shoes are going to be almost impossible to fill."

Bailey said in a phone interview Wednesday that she and Albright talked last week. She declined to share details of the conversation but confirmed that he had not been fired nor did he have any employee conduct problems.

"I'm at a point where I'm wishing him well, and I assume he's wishing us well," Bailey said.

The judge said many of the court's staff have worked together for a decade or more, so she is going to take her time to find a permanent replacement for the $110,296 position.

"I certainly expect that I will reappoint at some point," she said. "Right now I have two capable directors handling the work."

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