News

ABA May Lose Some Accreditation Powers

A U.S. Department of Education panel recommended last week that the ABA’s accreditation power for new law schools be suspended for one year. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity made that decision based on the ABA’s failure to implement student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, and to meet audit process and analysis responsibilities regarding students’ debt levels. The recommendation now goes back to the Education Department. The ABA Journal has the story.

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Tennessee Lawyers Among New Bar Foundation Fellows

The American Bar Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing justice through rigorous research on the law, legal processes and the law’s impact on society, has named its new 2016 fellows. Among the group are 87 Tennessee lawyers. See the list here.

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ABA Opinion Addresses Referral Fees, Conflict of Interest

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued a formal ethics opinion this week that addresses the propriety of referral fees and explains that clients must consent to such arrangements. The opinion also provides examples of when a lawyer does or does not have a conflict of interest, according to the ABA Journal

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Chattanooga Attorney Named as Fellow of the ABF

Chattanooga attorney Paul Hatcher, a partner at Duncan, Hatcher, Hixson & Fleenor, has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, The Hamilton County Herald reports. The ABF, a research center, focuses on the social aspects of the law and legal practice.

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Chattanooga Attorney Named Fellow of the ABF

Chattanooga attorney Patricia Best Vital, principal of Vital Law Office & Dispute Resolution Services, was named as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. The ABF, founded in 1952, is recognized as a premier institute in the United States for social science research on law. Vital is also an arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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ABA Groups Highlights Diversity Efforts

The ABA’s Fund for Justice and Education is highlighting activities conducted across the organization this month as part of the ABA’s Goal III – to eliminate bias and enhance diversity. Divisions inside the ABA involved in meeting the goal include the The Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission, the ABA Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and more.

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Rubenfeld Receives ABA's 2016 Stonewall Award

Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld received the American Bar Association’s 2016 Stonewall Award for her work as a gay rights advocate. The award was presented Feb. 6 at the ABA LGBT Caucus as part of the organization’s mid-year meeting in San Diego. Rubenfeld was co-counsel for some of the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. In December, Rubenfeld and co-counsel TBA President Bill Harbison were named Nashvillians of the Year by Scene magazine for their work on the case.

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Decision Due Soon on Balloting Choice

TBA members who choose to opt out of electronic voting and receive a paper ballot for the upcoming 2016 TBA election need to either indicate their presence on their online membership profile,  or provide written notice to TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur at 221 Fourth Ave. North, Suite 400, Nashville, TN 37219. This notice must be provided by Feb. 1. Candidates interested in filing for the 2016 elections need to file qualifying materials by Feb. 15. Voting will take place between March 1 and April 1.

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ABA Accepting Committee Nominations

The American Bar Association (ABA) is seeking nominations for its Standing and Special Committees, Commissions, Working Groups, Task Forces and other ABA entities for the 2016-2017 membership year. Recommendations can now be made online and must be received by Feb. 26.

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ABA Issues Ethics Opinion on Limited-Scope Legal Services

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility today issued ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 472, "Communication with Person Receiving Limited-Scope Legal Services." In this opinion the committee addresses the obligations of a lawyer under ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 4.2, "Communication with Person Represented by Counsel," commonly called the “no contact” rule, and ABA Model Rule 4.3, "Dealing with Unrepresented Person," when communicating with a person who is receiving or has received limited-scope representation under ABA Model Rule 1.2, "Scope of Representation and Allocation of Authority Between Client and Lawyer." The opinion also provides recommendations for lawyers providing limited-scope representation.

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ABA Committee Proposes Lifting Ban on Credit for Paid Externships

The American Bar Association's Standards Review Committee is again proposing that a ban that prevents students from receiving academic credit for paid externships be lifted, the ABA Journal reports. The ban has been one of the most contentious issues to come before the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in recent years. The Law Student Division has lobbied hard to eliminate the prohibition, saying it limits the amount of field placement opportunities available to students. But many clinicians believe that eliminating the ban would undermine the academic purposes of the placements.

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ABA to Honor Rubenfield for Gay Rights Work

Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld was among attorneys selected to receive the American Bar Assocation’s (ABA) third annual Stonewall Award for their work as gay rights advocates. Rubenfeld was co-counsel for some of the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges. Evan Wolfson and Thomas Fitzpatrick will be honored alongside Rubenfeld at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting, Feb. 6. “The ABA is pleased to recognize these three gay rights pioneers. Each has been a forceful voice for LGBT inclusion and legal progress,” said the commission’s chair, Mark Johnson Roberts. 

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TBA VP Pera to Chair ABA Coordinating Council

Memphis attorney and TBA vice president Lucian T. Pera of Adams and Reese was appointed to chair the Coordinating Council with the American Bar Association's Center for Professional Responsibility. The Center’s Coordinating Council oversees and directs legal and judicial ethical issues that come before the ABA’s policymaking body, the ABA House of Delegates and other national initiatives. Pera, a Vanderbilt University Law School graduate, is the immediate past treasurer of the ABA and a former member of its Board of Governors and Executive Committee.

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ABA: Better Debt Counseling, Loan Transparency Needed

The ABA House of Delegates this week adopted several recommendations aimed to help students better understand the financial impact of law school. The package calls on law schools to provide better debt counseling, disclose more information about revenues and expenditures, and experiment with new ways to lower the costs of legal education.  The House also backed changes in law school accreditation standards, most of which were described as technical corrections or clarifications. The ABA Journal has more on both issues.

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TBA Honors Former President at Chicago Reception

TBA President Bill Harbison joined attorneys from across Tennessee and other states in honoring Memphis attorney Randy Noel during a reception in his honor Saturday at the annual ABA Convention in Chicago. Noel, with Butler Snow, is a former TBA president and a former Tennessee delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Support for the event was provided by the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. 

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TBA Reception Honors Former President Noel

(CHICAGO, Aug. 1, 2015) — TBA President Bill Harbison (left) salutes Memphis attorney Randy Noel and his wife, Leesa, during a reception in his honor held the annual ABA Convention in Chicago. Noel, with Butler Snow, is a former TBA president and a former Tennessee delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Support for the event was provided by the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School.

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New ABA President to Work on Diversity, Inclusion

Paulette Brown took office today as president of the American Bar Association at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. She is the first woman of color to become president of the 136-year-old organization. Brown, a labor and employment law partner at Locke Lord LLP in Morristown, N.J, plans to devote her presidency to serving ABA members and highlighting the value of the association by reaching out to lawyers and communities across the country. She also plans to build on the work the ABA has already done in the area of diversity and inclusion through a newly created Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360.

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ABA Establishes Task Force on Body Cameras

The ABA Criminal Justice Section has formed a Task Force on Law Enforcement Body Cameras to analyze whether the use of these cameras by law enforcement promotes public safety and guards against unsubstantiated claims of police misconduct. The task force also will assess the cameras' impact on the criminal justice system and individual liberties. Finally, it will be charged with reporting on best policies and practices for the deployment and use of body cameras. The group will announce task force members and detail objectives tomorrow at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

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ABA Annual Meeting Shares City with Massive Music Festival

Lawyers and music lovers will dominate the downtown Chicago landscape during the American Bar Association Annual Meeting and Lollapalooza music festival this week. The annual meeting is the ABA’s largest gathering, with more than 5,000 lawyers and other attendees registering for the meeting as of late July. It gets underway Thursday. Lollapalooza, which will feature 130 musical acts, has become an economic behemoth every summer in Chicago. In 2013, it drew 300,000 attendees over three days and helped pump an estimated $120 million into the local economy. The ABA Journal has more.

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TBA to Honor Randy Noel at Chicago Reception

The TBA will honor Memphis attorney Randall D. “Randy” Noel during a reception at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago on Saturday. The event will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Gold Room of the Fairmont Hotel. Noel, with Butler Snow, is a past TBA president and a past Tennessee delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Support is provided by the University of Tennessee College of Law, University of Memphis School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School. All Tennessee lawyers are invited to attend.

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ABA President Reflects on Year in Office

In an interview with the Memphis Business Journal, ABA President William Hubbard says he has used his year in office to try to modernize the profession, lower costs, break down barriers and encourage attorneys to rethink the way legal services are delivered. “There’s this latent market for legal service … people who are less fortunate … people in the middle class and the moderate income class ... If you have that gap you have to ask yourself, maybe our model needs reform. Maybe we need a new delivery mechanism." One solution he points to is Online TN Justice, a virtual legal clinic that was developed by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the TBA. The ABA plans to roll out a nationwide version of the program soon.

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ABA President Pushes Online Models for Civil Disputes

The president of the American Bar Association told Tennessee lawyers that the traditional method of providing pro bono legal services in civil matters isn’t working, the Memphis Daily News reports. “People are migrating en masse to these online services,” William C. Hubbard told a group of 200 attorneys and judges Thursday at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual meeting in Memphis. “We need to make sure we don’t have perhaps two justice systems that operate independently – one totally online and totally unregulated and one highly regulated but not innovative enough. We need to synthesize those two systems.”

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Task Force Proposes Reforms for Legal Education Financing

A report released today by an American Bar Association presidential task force calls for enhanced law student debt counseling, wider collection and publication of law school financial data and innovation at law schools to lower costs for students while maintaining sound educational programs. The report of the ABA Task Force on Financing Legal Education notes that tuition hikes are slowing and that tuition discounting, largely through merit-based grants and scholarships, is widespread and growing.

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ABA Seeks Comments on Externship, LSAT Rules

An American Bar Association (ABA) panel voted over the weekend to accept public comments on a proposal allowing law students to draw both pay and academic credit for externships. The ABA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on July 16 and again on July 30, the National Law Journal reports. Under current rules, students are barred from receiving both pay and credit. The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar also submitted for public comment a proposal to alter a rule that allows schools to admit certain students who have not taken the Law School Admission Test.

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Committee Wants Applicants to Take LSAT

An American Bar Association committee is recommending the elimination of a rule that allows most law schools to fill up to 10 percent of their entering classes with students who haven’t taken the Law School Admission Test. Barring that, the committee is proposing to make the rule applicable to all schools, the ABA Journal reports. The rule, approved last year by the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, currently applies only to students enrolled in undergraduate programs at the same university as the law school and/or students pursuing another degree in addition to their JD.

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