News

Baker Donelson Repeats as ‘Beacon of Justice’ Law Firm

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) has announced that Memphis-based Baker Donelson once again is among the law firms being recognized for expanding opportunities, reach and quality of legal aid delivery systems. The 14 firms – which devoted more than 700,000 combined hours to pro bono last year – will be recognized at a June 23 dinner in Washington D.C. with the 2015 Beacon of Justice Award. The group also will honor Hewlett-Packard General Counsel John F. Schultz with the Exemplar Award.

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LAET Celebrates 50 Years

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) hosted its 50th Anniversary Celebration Thursday in Knoxville. The event was attended by more than 150 attorneys, members of the judiciary, and other guests, including James J. Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Washington, D.C., and retired California Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson Jr., who also helped write the Congressional Act that created the LSC. The core organization was founded as Knoxville Legal Aid Society (KLAS) in 1965, growing out of the University of Tennessee College of Law Pro Bono Clinic.

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Carnival Memphis Salutes the Legal Industry

As part of its 84th anniversary celebration, Carnival Memphis will salute the Mid-South Legal Industry during its annual Business & Industry Salute Luncheon May 5 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Honorees include Lewis Donelson, Judge Julia Gibbons, Mike Cody and Shepherd Tate, as well as eight area law firms. The event will take place at the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Boulevard. Learn more about the award recipients and get ticket information here.

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Book Signing: 'Mass Incarceration, Death Sentences and Racism'

Joseph Ingle will discuss and sign his book, Slouching Toward Tyranny: Mass Incarceration, Death Sentences, and Racism, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Parnassus Books in Nashville. As a pastor to Death Row inmates across the South, Ingle's book "is part personal experience, part history: the history of systematic destruction of minorities in America, from colonial days to now, by physical slaughter and by legal and judicial means."

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TBA Board Approves Medical-Legal Partnership Resolution

The TBA Board of Governors has adopted a resolution that "encourages lawyers, law firms, legal services agencies, law schools and bar associations to establish, develop and maintain medical-legal partnerships" in collaboration with medical and health care organizations. The resolution, which was recommended by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and the Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group, also won support from the TBA House of Delegates. The full resolution, accompanying report and materials are available on the TBA website.

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Deadline Today for LAET 50th Anniversary Celebration

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has extended through today the deadline to RSVP for its 50th Anniversary Celebration Reception. The celebration will be held April 23 at The Foundry from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Reserve your spot online.

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Deadline Extended for Pro Bono Training

The deadline to register for volunteer attorney training has been extended to Friday. Hosted by the Access to Justice Commission and The Faith & Justice Alliance, the April 27 event is designed for pro bono volunteer attorneys to prepare them to assist low income Tennesseans in high needs areas of law. For more information, contact Laura McKenzie at (615) 741-2687.

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Judge Allows Undocumented Children to Seek Legal Counsel

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly yesterday rejected the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to secure legal representation for a group of undocumented children who face deportation. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Salvadoran siblings who entered America to escape gang violence. Federal officials argued it would be too expensive to provide legal representation in immigration cases.  Politico has more on the story.

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LAET Director Yoder to Retire in December

David R. Yoder, the long-time executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) announced today that he will retire effective Dec. 31. Yoder came to Knoxville in August 1993 to head the former Knoxville Legal Aid Society, and steered the 2002 consolidation of programs and staff into what is now a 26-county organization. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Yoder worked in legal services in Indiana and Michigan. Read more in a release from LAET.

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Chattanooga Legal Aid Gets $15,000 Grant for Computers

The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga (CFGC) has awarded the Chattanooga Office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) a $15,000 grant to purchase new desktop computers and laptops. The donation will ensure that every staff member of the Chattanooga office (13 in all) will get a new computer. Read more in this release.

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TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

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International Conference Looks at Rule of Law, Access to Justice

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative will host its annual conference April 15 in Washington, D.C. This year’s program will focus on the role of access to justice in international legal development, human rights and the rule of law. Speakers include representatives of the U.S. Department of State, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Human Rights Initiative and International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. Learn more online.

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TJC Accepting ‘Mother of the Year’ Nominations

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is accepting nominations for its annual “Mother of the Year” celebration, the Tennessean reports. Any mother, foster mother or grandmother who has shown extraordinary love and courage in advocating not just for her own children, but for all children in need, may be nominated. Children may nominate a caregiver by submitting a picture depicting why that person is a healthcare hero. Nominations must be received by April 25.

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Law Students Pitch Legal Apps to Venture Capitalist

The Vanderbilt Law School class on Technology in Legal Practice has been designing new technologies to enhance access to justice in Tennessee. The students will present their application designs on Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Hyatt Room on the first floor of the law school building. Ideas will be pitched to a panel of judges consisting of a faculty member, general counsel, law firm managing partner, a legal technology software founder and a venture capitalist.

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Free Legal Clinic Saturday In Memphis

A free legal clinic will be held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee and Memphis Area Legal Services host the free, open-to-the-public event the second Saturday of each month. Burch Porter & Johnson PLLC and the legal department at International Paper are this month's sponsors. The Memphis Business Journal has more.

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Sign up Now for Nashville Pro Bono Volunteer Training

The Access to Justice Commission and The Faith & Justice Alliance are hosting a volunteer attorney training April 27 from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theater in Nashville. This training event is designed for pro bono volunteer attorneys to prepare them to assist low income Tennesseans in high needs areas of law. Registration deadline is Friday. The AOC has more.

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UT Pro Bono Honors Over 100 Students at Annual Banquet

More than 100 University of Tennessee law student were honored Monday for participating in alternative spring break and/or completing more than 25, 50 or 75 hours of service. Also at the 2015 Pro Bono Banquet, the Student Bar Association announced that it has established a public service scholarship in Dean Doug Blaze's name that will be given to a student to perform public interest work during the summer.

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YLD Launches Statewide Legal Clinic Initiative

This year’s signature TBA YLD public service project is a series of legal clinics and educational events to be held across the state. As envisioned by YLD President Rachel Moses, the events will take place during the first annual Access to Justice Week – the week leading up to and following Law Day 2015, which is observed on May 1. Lawyers of all ages are invited to participate.

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Federal Court Speeds up 'Pro Se' Cases

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis sees one of the highest numbers of pro se filings – nearly 41 percent of all cases – and is one of the slowest in the country to close cases. To address these delays, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane K. Vescovo has implemented recommendations from a federal team that reviewed the matter, adding a fourth full-time employee and a new part-time person to screen filings for merit among other changes. Read more in the Commercial Appeal.

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Legal Aid Gets Grant for Immigrant Clinic

The Nashville Bar Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) to continue outreach to Nashville’s immigrant and refugee community. The funds will support an ongoing free walk-in legal clinic at Casa Azafrán, the city’s only general legal advice program for these population groups. The clinic is held the third Friday of the month.

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LAET Celebrates 50th Anniversary April 23

Join Legal Aid of East Tennessee as it celebrates 50 years of bringing civil legal justice to the low income, elderly and abused people of East Tennessee. The event will be held 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 23 at the Foundry at World’s Fair Park. Seating is limited, please RSVP by Friday.

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Tapas for Justice Fundraiser April 14

The annual “Tapas for Justice” fundraiser to benefit Justice for Our Neighbors will take place April 14, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Baker Donelson in Nashville. Contact wade@tnjfon.org for more information.

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Federal Disaster Declared, Legal Assistance Ramps Up

President Barack Obama today declared that a major disaster exists in Tennessee and approved federal aid to help areas affected by severe winter storms and flooding in February, Knoxnews reports. The declaration covers 35 counties, mostly in East and Middle Tennessee. The TBA has a broad range of resources available to help lawyers willing to assist storm victims. In the next few days, a toll-free hotline will be set up for those in need of legal assistance. Through a partnership with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and local legal aid organizations, the TBA is recruiting lawyers to handle hotline calls and volunteer at walk-in clinics, as well as provide assistance to colleagues in affected areas. Learn more here or sign up to help.

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Court Maintains Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an order today establishing a new mechanism to fund access to justice programs, but declined to implement a requirement that attorneys make an annual report of pro bono activity. Today’s order is consistent with recommendations made by the TBA in a comment submitted to the court in February. The comment came in response to a November 2014 petition from the court’s Access to Justice Commission, which had proposed required reporting of pro bono hours. Read more about the order.

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Legal Aid Seeking Lawyer for Johnson City

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) is seeking a full time staff attorney for its Johnson City office. The attorney would handle general civil litigation and public benefits matters. Candidates must be currently licensed or eligible for licensure in Tennessee. Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, three references and writing sample to: Managing Attorney, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, 311 W. Walnut St., Johnson City, TN 37604 or to dyeomans@laet.org.

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