News

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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LAET Sets Pro Bono Night

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host Pro Bono Night & the Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 28 at 5:30 p.m. Learn more about it.

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TennCare Applicant Suit Argued

An attorney for the state of Tennessee, Michael Kirk, told a federal appeals court Thursday that a court order is not needed to protect TennCare applicants because they are no longer being left in indefinite limbo. But Samuel Brooke, who represents the TennCare applicants, told the judges that even though the problems are being resolved, the state still is not fulfilling its duty to process the applications on time. "It seems to me this case is crying out for a settlement," Judge Karen Nelson Moore said, since both seemed to want to help TennCare applicants resolve their problems. The Greeneville Sun reports.

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AOC Hiring Pro Bono Coordinator

The Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking a Pro Bono Coordinator to work with the Access to Justice Commission. Main job duties will be to cultivate, monitor and follow-up with new pro bono initiatives, especially in parts of the state where none currently exist to serve specific segments of the population or communities with legal needs that are not being met. The position is a one-year grant-funded position, beginning August 1. Applications are due June 30.

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Officials Investigate Fire at Legal Aid

Firefighters say they believe someone intentionally set fire to the back door of the Legal Aid Society office in Murfreesboro, WSMV reports. A police officer who was patrolling in the area first saw flames at the back of the office building on Walnut Street around 11 p.m. last night.

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6th Annual ‘Lawyers for Littles’ Event Raises $21,500

The sixth annual “Lawyers for Littles” Bowl for Kid’s Sake event helped raise over $21,500 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. Twenty-three teams participated in the bowling event on June 4, representing all spheres of the legal profession, including law firms, corporate counsel, government agencies and bar associations. Money raised in events like “Lawyers for Littles” is used to conduct background checks on volunteers to ensure child safety and to provide ongoing support for children, families and volunteers to build and sustain long-lasting relationships. For more information contact Elizabeth Sitgreaves or Bart Pickett.

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New Website Presents Database of Collateral Consequences of Conviction

A new National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction is now available through a website produced by the National Institute of Justice and the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section. The interactive site lets attorneys select one or more jurisdiction in the database, then identify legal sanctions and restrictions imposed. The work is part of the ABA’s efforts to reform collateral consequences so that they serve public safety goals, but do not impose high social and economic costs.

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Court Opens Pro Bono Recognition Process

Tennessee lawyers can now report their pro bono hours from the previous year at any time and be recognized through the “Attorneys for Justice” program if they provide 50 or more hours of pro bono service. Learn more from the AOC.

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Senate Panel Advances $10 Million Increase in LSC Funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee today marked up a bill that contains $385 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) for FY 2016, an increase of $10 million over current levels. LSC had asked for $486.9 million, approximately the same amount requested for the past two years, the agency reports. While not moving forward with a similar increase, the House has not presented an amendment to zero out the LSC budget as it has for at least six years.

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CAC Event Raises $45,000

The Kids First Child Advocacy Center of the Ninth Judicial District raised $45,000 during its annual dinner and auction last week at the Yacht Club in Tellico Village. The theme was “A Child’s Voyage ... from Victim to Survivor.” The event boasted a silent auction, live auction and music by the Tellico Top Notes. The News Herald has more.

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NALS Silent Auction to Benefit Legal Aid

NALS will host its third annual After Hours Silent Auction on July 16 at 5:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, the state’s largest non-profit law firm. Attendees will have the chance to bid on donated items such as massages, gift certificates, hotel stays and more. 

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Registration Now Open for Equal Justice University

Registration is now open for the annual Equal Justice University, co-hosted by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the TBA. Equal Justice University brings Tennessee's equal justice community together for high quality CLE featuring local and national experts, networking opportunities and other special events. This year’s conference will be held Sept. 2 - 4 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro.

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Date Change for Lipscomb Legal Clinics

Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society will hold a free legal advice clinic 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 23 at St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville. Due to scheduling conflicts, the clinics will be meeting on the fourth rather than third Tuesday of each month. For more information or to volunteer, contact Randy Spivey at randy.spivey@lipscomb.edu

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Legal Aid Names Community Fundraising Chairs

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) announced today that Steve and Jeanne Thomas will serve as community campaign co-chairs for the group’s 2015 fundraising initiative. Thomas is the co-founder and president of the tax services firm Thomas and Thorngren. Jeanne Thomas is managing counsel for labor and employment at HCA. She previously was an assistant attorney general for the state and counsel to the Davidson County Chancery Court. The goal this year is to raise $800,000. The community campaign helps raise money from non-legal donors.

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Free Legal Clinic for Residents Affected by Bed Bugs

Chattanooga attorney Emily O'Donnell is offering free advice to residents affected by bed bugs in a low-income housing complex, News Channel 9 reports. People living at Whiteside's Faith Manor said they have been dealing with bed bugs for more than three years, and that management has been little to no help in fixing the problem. Those who need help can call Legal Aid at (423) 756-4013, ext. 1109, before June 8.

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MALS Attorney Awarded Advocate of the Year

Craig P. Barnes of Memphis Area Legal Services has been chosen as the STEP Inc. 2015 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year. STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) presents the award annually to a person who has “exemplified using information to assist a child or youth with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education.”

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Autocross Competition Benefits Legal Aid

The 4th Annual “SOLO Time at Bristol” autocross competition will be held at the Bristol Motor Speedway June 6 and 7. More than 100 competitors are expected. They will drive a timed precision course on a flat track. Spectators also may pay $10 to ride the course at competition speed with participating drivers. All proceeds benefit Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Learn more about the event.

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Upper Cumberland Justice Center to Open in New Space

The Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center has finally found a place to call home and will open its doors this July, the Cookeville Herald Citizen reports. The center, which provides a centralized location of services to assist victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse, had been looking for permanent space as a requirement of a three-year state grant. The center will open July 1 at 269 S. Willow Ave., Suite E, Cookeville, TN 38501. A grand opening ceremony will be held that day at 3 p.m.

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Students Invited to Apply for Scholarship

The University of Tennessee College of Law Immigration Clinic will be an Equal Justice Works (EJW) host site this summer with student interns working on unaccompanied minor cases. Law students working at least 450 hours are eligible for a $1,515 Segal Education Award through EJW’s AmeriCorps JD program. In addition, students who apply by June 1 will be automatically entered to win one of 20 iPad Air or Surface 3 tablets. Students can apply online or contact EJW for more information.

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Legal Services Corp. Funding Cut to be Voted on Tuesday

Appropriations for the Legal Service Corporation for the next fiscal year is contained in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which is set for a vote on the House floor on Tuesday. The committee mark up of the bill cuts LSC funding by 20 percent from the present $375 million to $300 million. An effort to eliminate all federal funding for legal aid and an effort to increase LSC funding beyond the committee level are also expected when the bill is considered. The TBA supports the funding level set in the administration budget proposal at $452 million. Supporters of this vital access to justice program should contact Tennessee members of congress urging a no vote on the zero funding proposal and a yes on any amendment to increase. For more detailed information, visit the ABA webpage on LSC funding. Watch for more in Monday’s issue of TBA Today. 

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Legal Aid to Launch Elder Law Program

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will launch a new Elder Law Program to help senior citizens in Cheatham, Davidson, Robertson and Sumner counties obtain free legal and educational services. The outreach is made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Memorial Foundation. Among other services offered through the program, legal aid staff will conduct seminars to educate seniors and their caretakers about their rights and responsibilities and address common legal issues faced by older Americans.

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Rutherford Veterans’ Court to Open by September

Rutherford County officials say the county’s first Veterans’ Court is on track to be fully operational by September, the Daily News Journal reports. The court, which was approved in February, will serve veterans who already are participating in the Drug Court and DUI Court, officials said. The program also will serve active-duty soldiers who run into trouble with the law. Rutherford joins Montgomery, Davidson and Shelby counties in launching Veterans’ Courts.

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Bone Receives Legal Aid Award

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has awarded its first ever Gallatin Community Award to Charles W. Bone, founder and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton. Members of Legal Aid’s Gallatin office – which serves Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties – selected Bone because he has championed the non-profit law firm in the community and his firm has been a financial and pro bono supporter of the Gallatin office, as well as the Nashville office.

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Lowest Paid Lawyers Report Greatest Happiness

A new study by Florida State University law professor Lawrence S. Krieger found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as a high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost no correlation with happiness and well being. However, the study found that lawyers in public-service jobs, who typically make less money, were most likely to report being happy. The survey of 6,200 lawyers also found that lawyers in public-service jobs drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers, and despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups were equally satisfied with their lives. The New York Times’ wellness blog reports on the study.

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Nominations Sought for 2015 Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for its 2015 Access to Justice Awards now through June 26. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. The B. Riney Green Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in encouraging collaboration and inter-program cooperation to strengthen access to justice. And the New Advocate of the Year Award recognizes attorneys who have excelled in the first five years of working in public interest law. Nominations should be submitted to Samantha Sanchez. The awards will be presented Sept. 2 in conjunction with the 2015 Equal Justice University, which is hosted by TALS and co-sponsored by the TBA.

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