News

Trump Budget Eliminates LSC, Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The White House today released its first full budget proposal, maintaining overall spending levels, but cutting many domestic programs that provide legal and social services. In response to the budget, which proposes elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), American Bar Association President Linda Klein said the cuts would “severely undermine the fairness of the legal system and deny access to justice for some of society’s most vulnerable individuals.” The budget also proposes to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which Klein said means fewer law school graduates will be “able to dedicate their lives to public service as prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers and other justice related fields, especially in underserved rural areas.” Lawyers and legal groups across the country are speaking out against the cuts. The Knoxville Bar Association is among the most recent, adopting a resolution last week.

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U.S. Judge Blocks DOJ Move Against Immigration Legal Aid

After the Justice Department attempted to stop a nonprofit from advising immigrants who cannot afford a lawyer, a federal judge granted the organization a temporary restraining order and issued an order to stop the department from taking similar actions against legal nonprofits, Reuters reports. The government had told the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project of Washington state that it could not advise people in immigration court without formally representing them. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones’ order prevents the department from enforcing the rule against legal nonprofits.
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Sentenced to Debt: When You Can't Pay Your Fines

In the current issue of the Journal, Nashville lawyer Vidhi S. Joshi looks into what happens within the criminal justice system in Tennessee when a person cannot pay their fines. Read the feature “Sentenced to Debt.” Columns this month include "Redefining Relocation," by Marlene Moses and Benjamin Russ; John Day writing about "Mothers, Minors and Medical Bills"; and Bill Haltom following the saga of where the bodies of President and Mrs. James K. Polk will land for eternity.

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Program Will Train Attorneys to Represent TennCare Enrollees

A free program in Chattanooga will train pro bono attorneys to represent TennCare enrollees in enrollment and medical service appeals and contested case hearings. The program, called “Making a Difference for Families in Need,” will be led by Chris Coleman, a staff attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center. It will be held May 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at 832 Georgia Ave #1200, Chattanooga, 37402. Find more information and register here.
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Klein Testifies in Congress to Support LSC Funding

ABA President Lina Klein testified in the U.S. House of Representatives last week on the importance of funding the Legal Services Corporation, the nonprofit that supports legal aid offices across the county, the ABA Journal reports. President Donald Trump’s budget proposed eliminating all funding for LSC. “Funding for equal justice under federal law is a federal duty,” Klein said. “To strengthen legal aid is to strengthen the rule of law.”
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May 'Journal' Now Available Online

“The withdrawal of the Legal Services Corporation funding would be a crippling blow to our access to justice community at a time when need for their services has never been greater,” writes TBA President Jason Long in the June Tennessee Bar Journal. Long speaks out for the LSC in the face of a proposed budget that would obliterate it, asking lawyers to contact their representatives. Also read about how more than 300 years ago when pirates terrorized the Caribbean it appeared to be a free-for-all on the high seas. But there was a certain form of democracy being carried out among them, as the pirates operated their own form of the Rule of Law. It's detailed in this month’s Journal.

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Many Pledge to 'Stand Against Racism' at YWCA Event

Several hundred people gathered in Nashville's Public Square Park today for the YWCA's annual Stand Against Racism event. The programming was led by Mayor Megan Barry and featured several lawyers and others speaking on the theme "Women of Color Leading Change." Among the speakers were Ana Escobar, with the Davidson County District Attorney General's Office; civil rights attorney Abby Rubenfeld; and Sharon Roberson, president and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee. Melody Fowler-Green, with the Metro Human Relations Commission, and Beverly Watts, who serves on the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commisson, led the crowd in committing to the pledge. See photos from the event.

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Knoxville Judges Will ‘Serve Justice’ at LAET Event

To celebrate its new Knoxville location, Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host a event in which local judges will serve the food and drinks called “Serving Justice.” The evening will include a short program and feature Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Lincoln Memorial University President Dr. B. James Dawson, LMU Duncan School of Law Dean Justice Gary R. Wade and LAET executives. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on May 2 at the Star Building, 607 West Summit Hill Drive.
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Attorneys Needed for Truancy Intervention Program

Attorneys are needed to represent students in the Connecting Attendance to Results in Education (CARE), a community-based truancy intervention program created by Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Metro Student Attendance Center and Advocates for Women’s and Kids’ Equality (AWAKE). A training session, which is required in order to represent a student, will be held at Waller, 511 Union Street in Nashville, on May 2 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. The program will train attorneys about truancy laws, the truancy adjudication process, the structure of the CARE program and the boundaries of the attorney-client (student) relationship. Register at the Nashville Bar website.
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Attorneys Needed for Truancy Intervention Program

Attorneys are needed to represent students in the Connecting Attendance to Results in Education (CARE), a community-based truancy intervention program created by Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Metro Student Attendance Center and Advocates for Women’s and Kids’ Equality (AWAKE). A training session, which is required in order to represent a student, will be held at Waller, 511 Union Street in Nashville, on May 2 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. The program will train attorneys about truancy laws, the truancy adjudication process, the structure of the CARE program and the boundaries of the attorney-client (student) relationship. Register at the Nashville Bar website.
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Legal Aid Society Relocates Gallatin Office

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced this week that it has relocated its Gallatin office to 106 Public Square, Suite 109. Three staff attorneys and two staff members work at the new location, providing free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals in Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties. All phone numbers to the Legal Aid Society’s Gallatin location remain unchanged.

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TBA to Join Push for Legal Services Funding in Washington

Lawyers from Tennessee and other states will be in Washington next week to speak to members of Congress and their staffs about the importance of funding for the Legal Services Corporation as part of ABA Day 2017. The TBA effort will be lead by President Jason Long and will include President-elect Lucian Pera, YLD President Rachel Mancl, TBA Legislative Counsel Gif Thornton and Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur. Nashville attorneys Ann Pruitt from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Jonathan Cole, president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, will accompany the delegation as they visit each lawmaker from Tennessee in the American Bar Association's annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession.

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Community Foundation Grant Provides Van to Drug Court

The 23rd Judicial District Drug Court received a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for a 15-passenger van to transport participants to work, counseling, community service and mandatory court sessions.

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Volunteers Needed for Lipscomb Legal Advice Clinic

Volunteers are still needed for the Lipscomb/St. James Legal Advice Clinic on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The clinic will be at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. North in Nashville. The clinic will be advice-only with no expectation that volunteers take on continuing representation. Contact Randy Spivey at Lipscomb's Institute for Law, Justice and Society for more information or to volunteer.

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Indigent Representation Task Force Recommends Hourly Pay Increase

The Tennessee Supreme Court's Indigent Representation Task Force today presented seven recommendations, including one that would increase the rate for paid appointed private counsel to no less than $75 per hour. The recommendations were released at a Capitol press conference and were based on findings from a statewide listening tour, research and consultation with national organizations regarding standards across the country. Read the full list of recommendations at the TBA website.
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Memphis Bar Voices Support for LSC

The Memphis Bar Association (MBA) sent a letter last week to Tennessee’s elected officials in Washington, urging that the federal government continue to provide “robust funding” for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The LSC, the largest funder of civil legal aid in the country, faces the total elimination of funding under a proposed Trump administration budget. TBA President Jason Long issued a similar statement against the budget cuts in March, as did ABA President Linda Klein.
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Events Planned for Saturday's #Help4TN Day

Saturday is #Help4TNDay and Tennesseans will have the opportunity to receive free legal advice and learn about civil legal resources available throughout the year. Attorneys are still needed to volunteer for events scheduled across the state and online. The program, which kicked off in mid-March and continues through mid-April, is focused on bringing attention to the on-going need for free and low cost civil legal services and highlight the groups that provide these services to Tennesseans in need. Visit the Help4TN website to learn more about the program, as well as information on how to get involved.  

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Corporate Counsel Add Support to LSC

General counsel from 185 companies sent a letter yesterday to Congress urging preservation of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) because “access to justice is not an expendable luxury but an indispensable manifestation of our country’s most fundamental values.” The letter also notes that without the LSC, countless hours of pro bono service would lost, leaving many individuals unrepresented. Signatories include corporate attorneys from Amazon, Google, American Express and Tennessee-based Federal Express and Counsel on Call. Similar demonstrations of support have come from law firm leaders and law school deans. Learn more about the threat to LSC and show your support for vital legal aid programs via TBAImpact.

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Volunteers Needed for Jackson, Bolivar Expungement Clinics

Two upcoming expungement clinics in West Tennessee are in need of attorney volunteers. The first is in Jackson on April 7 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Criminal Justice Complex, 515 South Liberty Street. Contact Kathryn Tucker at (731) 426-1308 for more information. The second is in Bolivar on April 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Campbell Chapel Baptist Church, 17545 Highway 125 South. Contact Zulfat Zuara at (731) 609-5092 to volunteer.
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Help4TN: Volunteers Needed for Murfreesboro Expungement Clinic

The Rutherford County Community Court is looking for volunteers for an expungement clinic this Saturday. Held in partnership with the TBA Young Lawyers Division and other groups, it will take place at the First Baptist Church, located at 738 East Castle Street in Murfreesboro, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attorneys who wish to help should contact I’Ashea Myles-Dihigo.
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Vandy Law Students Spend Pro Bono Spring Break in Mississippi

Ten Vanderbilt Law students spent their spring break in Biloxi engaging in pro bono service work as a part of the Law Students for Social Justice organization. Three teams of students worked on education, expungement and other cases for low-income residents under the direction of staff attorneys at the Mississippi Justice Center. “All three groups made a real impact,” said Hannah Keith, the student organizer of the Pro Bono Spring Break program. “We made a dent in the attorneys’ workload.”
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Court Launches Help4TNDay Initiative

The Tennessee Supreme Court today made April 1 Help4TNDay, launching the statewide initiative with news conferences in five cities across Tennessee. In Nashville, Chief Justice Jeff Bivins championed the campaign, which will include free legal help online or in person at clinics, as well as a public service campaign that will air on television and radio stations across the state. “We want to ensure all Tennesseans have equal access to legal representation,” Bivins said. “Through the civil legal clinics, the citizens of our state will have a convenient place to go to get answers to their legal questions.”

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Summar to Leave Arts and Business Council

Longtime Executive Director Casey Summar is leaving the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville (ABC), citing a move to California as the reason for the change. Summar was the co-founder of the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in 2006, which later merged with the ABC in 2009. The ABC board will begin searching for a new Executive Director in the coming weeks. Among other services to the Nashville arts community, the ABC provides pro bono legal help to low-income artists, as well as legal assistance to nonprofit arts organizations.
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Legal Aid Programs in Limbo Under Proposed Trump Budget

The Atlantic asks “What Will Happen to Americans Who Can’t Afford an Attorney?” in a story examining the fate of legal aid organizations if a Trump proposal to eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation wins Congressional support. Gary Housepain, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, was quoted in the article explaining the wide-reaching benefits from having a robust legal aid program, from reduced costs for police, the court system, hospitals and more.
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ABA-Microsoft Launch Fellowship to Improve Legal Services

A new fellowship opportunity for recent law school graduates is now available. The American Bar Association Center for Innovation-Microsoft NextGen fellow will live for a year in residence at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, helping improve legal services in the United States, focusing primarily on partnership projects between the ABA, Microsoft and the Legal Services Corporation. The fellow will receive a $45,000 salary and benefits. Bar admission is not necessary. The deadline to apply is April 15. Learn more from the ABA Center for Innovation.

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