News

How Lawyers Can Help in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

To ensure that legal assistance is available to victims of hurricane disasters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the American Bar Association (ABA) has partnered with the Louisiana Civil Justice Center (LCJC) to create a hotline (800-310-7029) to provide needed information and services through pro bono volunteers. The ABA urges lawyers who are active members of the USVI or Puerto Rico bars to sign up to accept referrals of pro bono cases from the LCJC. Lawyers who are not licensed in either place can also assist by providing legal research or assistance with federal/administrative law questions. The volunteer sign up form is online in English and Spanish at ABA Disaster Legal Services Volunteer Attorney Intake Form. For more opportunities, go to the TBA's Volunteer Resources for Disaster Relief page.

read more »

Court Announces Support for Changes to Indigent Representation

The Tennessee Supreme Court today announced it will support reform of the state’s method for providing legal assistance to individuals unable to afford an attorney. Responding to a report from its Indigent Representation Task Force, the Court said it will seek funding to increase the rate attorneys are paid to work on such cases to $65 per hour, and will also request an appropriation in next year’s budget to raise compensation caps by $500 on all felonies and by $250 on juvenile matters. In a statement this afternoon, TBA President Lucian Pera said, “The TBA applauds the Supreme Court’s strong leadership on indigent representation reform. We look forward to partnering with the Court and others interested in making real improvement on the status quo." Pera added, “The Court’s recommendations regarding rates and caps is a step in the right direction. Frankly, it’s a small step, and it is not enough; but it is a start.” 

read more »

Legal Help Clinic Planned for Thursday in Williamson County

October is Celebrate Pro Bono Month, and all month long the TBA will be highlighting pro bono opportunities and events for Tennessee attorneys. One such opportunity will be on Thursday in Franklin. The Mercy Legal Help Clinic is held on the first Thursday of every month at Andrew Lutheran Church, 908 Murfreesboro Road, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. For more information, contact the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands at (615) 244-6610. For more Celebrate Pro Bono events, visit the TBA website.
read more »

Heated Exchange Erupts at Hearing for Brentwood Academy Sexual Assault Case

The first court hearing in the Brentwood Academy sexual assault case, held this morning, was filled with fiery words and surprises, The Tennessean reports. The case involves a former student and his mother, who are accusing the school of negligence and four boys of sexual assault. Just a few hours before the hearing, the student and mother (identified as John Doe and Jane Doe) changed their legal representation. Meanwhile the legal team for the school and the accused boys lashed out at the outgoing attorney for the Does for filing a legal complaint they say was filled with “reckless misrepresentations.”

read more »

October TBJ: The Scandalous Start of Tennessee's Written Bar Exam

The October Tennessee Bar Journal documents a time when just about anyone could practice law with little or no formal training. Lewis Laska writes about a "fake law school" that sold degrees, one of the factors that propelled the legal community to work toward uniformity, education and a written bar exam as standards to practice law. President Lucian Pera tells about lawyers' efforts in the wake of recent hurricanes, as well as ways you can help. Scott Ross gives an update on injury damages under Tennessee law. Russell Fowler shows how Louis Brandeis promoted the idea of pro bono — which is fitting because October is "Celebrate Pro Bono Month!"

read more »

Hotline Set Up for Puerto Rico Hurricane Victims

Survivors of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico can now get legal assistance by calling a hotline set up by a partnership among the Disaster Legal Services Program of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Virgin Islands Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Louisiana Civil Justice Center. Disaster victims can now call 800-310-7029, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST Monday through Friday to reach free legal help. Find out more from the ABA's Disaster Legal Services website. Additionally, there is a continued need for legal assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, as well as victims of hurricanes in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

read more »

Free Legal Clinic Set for Knoxville

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a Free Legal Advice Clinic on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law office, 1101 Liberty Street. The clinic is co-sponsored by Centro Hispano, so a Spanish-language translator will be provided to aid those who have limited English language proficiency. Appointments are not necessary, as legal help will be available on a first come, first served basis.

read more »

Tickets Still Available for LAET's Garden Party Fundraiser in Maryville

There's still time to purchase tickets for Legal Aid of East Tennessee's garden party fundraiser on Sept. 28 in Maryville. The event is called “Fall in the Garden,” and will be held at Out of Eden Garden Center, 2928 Highway 411 S, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available at LAET’s website.

read more »

UTK Law Legal Clinic Celebrates 70 Years

The University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic will soon be celebrating 70 years of serving indigent clients and helping students develop valuable skills in the profession. Multiple events have been scheduled to mark the occasion. A lecture will be held on Oct. 30 at 12 p.m. at the College of Law Building, Room 132, with special guest speaker Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. A more formal celebration will be held on the evening of Nov. 17 at The Emporium in Knoxville, featuring past directors, faculty, and more.
read more »

Disaster Hotline Set Up for Hurricane Victims in U.S. Virgin Islands

Survivors of the hurricanes in the U.S. Virgin Islands can now get legal assistance by calling a hotline set up by a partnership among the Disaster Legal Services Program of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Virgin Islands Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Louisiana Civil Justice Center. Disaster victims can now call 800-310-7029, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST Monday through Friday to reach free legal help. Find out more from the ABA's Disaster Legal Services website. Additionally, there is a continued need for legal assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida.

read more »

Memphis Law Students to Tailgate for MALS

The Student Bar Association and Public Action Law Society of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, in conjunction with the Memphis Bar Association Young Lawyers Division will host a Fundraiser Tailgate benefiting the Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) Campaign for Equal Justice Sept. 23. The annual campaign helps provide MALS with funds to augment its provision of critical legal services Memphians who would otherwise go unrepresented in life-altering legal matters, On Legal Grounds reports. The tailgate starts at 11 a.m. at Tiger Lane. Admission is $15.

read more »

ABA Fund-raising Arm Now Gives Federal Donors New Option

For the first time, the charitable fund-raising arm of the American Bar Association will be part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the largest and most successful workplace giving drive in the world. Starting this fall, federal government employees, including civilian, military and postal service, can support access to justice initiatives by selecting the ABA Fund for Justice and Education as their CFC charity of choice. The 2017 CFC Open Season runs from Oct. 2 through Jan. 12, 2018. The ABA Fund for Justice and Education supports more than 200 ABA public service and educational programs every year, raising money for legal services that benefit veterans, military families, seniors, children, the needy and disabled, among others.

read more »

TBA Public Service Award Nomination Deadline Monday

The deadline for the TBA Public Service Awards has been extended to Sept. 18. The TBA seeks nominations for three prestigious access-to-justice-related awards. The TBA Public Service Awards recognize service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation; pro bono work performed by a private attorney; and pro bono commitment demonstrated by a law student volunteer. Nominations for the Public Service Awards are due Sept. 18. Awards will be presented at TBA’s Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon on Jan. 13, 2018. For more information about these awards, contact Access to Justice Director Liz Todaro.

read more »

Tennessee Justice Center to Honor 9 at Hall of Fame Dinner

The Tennessee Justice Center will honor nine philanthropists at a Hall of Fame Gala next month. Don Enright, Ruth Ann Leach Harnisch, Ellen Levy and Gregg Horowitz, Bill and Robin King, Nancy MacLean, and Steve and Jeanne Thomas will be recognized, having contributed a collective $850,000 to the work of the TJC. The dinner will be held at the Sheraton Grand in Nashville on Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
read more »

NALS Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser Rescheduled

The Association for Legal Professionals, Nashville Chapter (NALS) will host its 5th Annual NALS After Hours Silent Auction on a new date — Oct. 16. The event, which is free and open to the public, will still take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP. All of the proceeds generated at the auction will be donated to the Tennessee Justice Center. Those who would like to donate an item for the auction should mail it to Tina Boone, c/o Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, 511 Union Street, Suite 2700, Nashville, 37219. For more information or to volunteer, contact NALS.

read more »

Attorneys From Across Country Answer Call to Help Texas

At least 1,600 lawyers from across the country have volunteered to provide legal support to survivors of Hurricane Harvey, the Wall Street Journal reports. The State Bar of Texas is connecting with each volunteer and matching their skills and experience with organizations and projects around the state. In addition to the out-of-state volunteers, a “steady rotation” of lawyers from local legal-aid organizations and Texas-based law firms is staffing shifts at shelters, assisting storm victims with issues including replacing lost documents, FEMA and insurance applications, custody disputes and warnings about disaster-related scams. To help volunteer attorneys prepare to serve disaster survivors, the ABA has free training resources available. Visit the TBA website for more information on how Tennessee lawyers can help respond to the crisis, including registering with Texas Free Legal Answers.

read more »

Deadline Near for Access to Justice Award Nominations

The TBA seeks nominations for three prestigious access-to-justice-related awards. The TBA Public Service Awards recognize service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation; pro bono work performed by a private attorney; and pro bono commitment demonstrated by a law student volunteer. Nominations for the Public Service Awards are due Sept. 15. Awards will be presented at TBA’s Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon on Jan. 13, 2018. For more information about these awards, please contact Access to Justice Director Liz Todaro.

read more »

Sumner County Law Group to Host Wills for Heroes Event

Heritage Law Group PLLC will host a Wills for Heroes workshop in Gallatin on Sept. 25 at the Sumner County Training Center, 1570 Cairo Road. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will also feature live music, food and local vendors. For more information, contact Jenna Hunter at jenna@heritagelawtn.com.
read more »

Lawyers Still Aiding Sandy Victims 5 Years Later

With the legal relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey already underway, Law.com reminds attorneys to brace for the long haul – similar work is still ongoing in New York and New Jersey, five years after Hurricane Sandy touched down. The Touro Law Center’s Disaster Relief Clinic in Central Islip, New York, reported that the clinic has 125 active Sandy cases and received 25 new referrals just last week. Touro’s director Melissa Luckman offers advice to attorneys helping after Harvey: photograph everything, and make sure storm victims are cautious before taking repair loans from the Small Business Administration.
read more »

ATJ Community Honors 3 for Service

Three Tennessee lawyers were recognized for their commitment to access to justice during the Equal Justice University Awards Dinner. Carol Gish and Ashley Holliday, both from West Tennessee Legal Services, received the B. Riney Green Award for their work with their organization and throughout the community.  Christina Magráns-Tillery with Legal Aid of East Tennessee received the New Advocate of the Year Award for her creative and effective advocacy efforts on behalf of housing clients in the Knoxville area. The Awards Dinner also featured Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel of The Brennan Center for Justice's Washington, D.C. office. Austin-Hillery’s keynote address lauded the creative and connected legal aid community in Tennessee and encouraged advocates for access to justice to be “bold agents of change,” by building up collaborations, breaking down barriers and believing in the promise of meaningful legal services for all.

read more »

Help Hurricane Harvey Victims via Texas Free Legal Answers

The Texas Free Legal Answers website has been updated to permit attorneys licensed outside of Texas to create accounts and answer questions for victims of Hurricane Harvey. It offers a simple way for Tennessee lawyers to deliver direct legal support to those impacted by the hurricane, and do it without leaving home or work. The Texas Supreme Court this week issued an emergency order facilitating pro bono service by attorneys from across the country. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins affirmed the need for the Tennessee legal community to respond to this disaster. “Now is the time to begin spreading the word so that lawyers across our state realize we have a real opportunity to be true Tennessee volunteers again and help those who need it most. ... The Tennessee Supreme Court stands ready to help the volunteer lawyers in any way we can.”

read more »

Bar Leaders Praise Service, Pose Challenges at EJU Luncheon

TBA President Lucian Pera today voiced appreciation for the legal services professionals and pro bono volunteers who gathered this week at the Equal Justice University, an annual event hosted by Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and co-sponsored by the TBA. Pera presented thought-provoking questions about the changing legal market and the need for creative options to respond to the growing justice gap. TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson also delivered remarks, emphasizing the TBA’s continuing support and appreciation for the access to justice community. Pera and Stevenson delivered their remarks during today’s Leadership Luncheon.

read more »

Texas Supreme Court Issues Order Allowing Pro Bono by Out of State Attorneys

The Texas Supreme Court today issued an amended emergency order that permits out-of-state lawyers to practice Texas law temporarily. The order opens up opportunities for volunteer attorneys from across the country to provide pro bono support in Texas or remotely, by working with a “legal aid or pro bono program or a bar association that provides services to victims of Hurricane Harvey." The Tennessee Bar Association is working to support pro bono legal services needed in Texas in the wake of this disaster. One such remote opportunity is for Tennessee lawyers to volunteer with Texas Free Legal Answers to respond to pro bono client questions via email. Other opportunities are available through the State Bar of Texas

read more »

Bridgesmith, Moon Honored at Equal Justice University

More than 275 lawyers, law students and advocates today kicked off the 2017 Equal Justice University (EJU) in Murfreesboro. This is the conference’s 40th anniversary and boasts the event's highest attendance ever. EJU is the annual conference for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community and provides a unique opportunity for continuing education as well as networking through task force meetings and social functions. Highlights of today's program included the presentation of the Janice M. Holder Award to Larry Bridgesmith and Cat Moon for their innovative work in connecting technology solutions with challenges faced by the access to justice community.

read more »

Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund Seeks Support

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has established the Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund to support local legal aid organizations that will assist flood survivors “regain their homes, their financial stability and their lives.” TAJF is seeking contributions and says that every dollar donated will go directly to legal aid programs. After a disaster, Legal Aid helps put lives back together by providing life changing support, including assistance with FEMA benefits, insurance claims, replacing documents, consumer protection matters, foreclosure and landlord/tenant issues. 

read more »