News

President’s Budget Adds $65 Million for LSC

President Barack Obama sent his fiscal year 2015 budget request to Congress today, including a $65 million increase for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Total proposed spending for the agency is $430 million, up from the current level of $365 million, the American Bar Association reports. Many observers say the the proposal has almost no chance of passage in Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives, but it lays out Obama's policy priorities ahead of November congressional elections. Read more on the budget from Reuters.

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'Gideon's Army' Screening Reset for March 20

The screening of the award-winning HBO documentary Gideon's Army, which was cancelled Monday because of icy weather in Nashville, has been rescheduled to March 20 at 7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Nashville Public Defender’s Office, it will be at the Carmike Bellevue 8 Cinema. The film, which premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the stories of three young public defenders whose struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads causes them to challenge the assumptions of the current criminal justice system. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online.

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TBA Honors Nashville Company for Pro Bono Work

Caterpillar Financial received award at gala Saturday in Nashville

NASHVILLE, March 4, 2014 — Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation of Nashville was recognized for its commitment to providing free legal services at the Eighth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala this past Saturday in Nashville.

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TBA Recognizes Baker Donelson for Pro Bono Work

Firm's Knoxville office receives award for partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee

NASHVILLE, March 4, 2014 — The Knoxville office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz was recognized for its commitment to providing free legal services at the Eighth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala this past Saturday in Nashville.

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TBA Recognizes 2014 CCPBI Award Winners

Attorneys from Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. in Nashville and the Knoxville office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz were honored Saturday during the Eighth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville. Baker Donelson was recognized for two projects undertaken in partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee: serving as a Pillar Law Firm, representing people seeking to obtain a conservatorship over a disabled adult and working to bring “Project H.E.L.P.” – a program that provides legal assistance to homeless men, women and children – to the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission. CAT Financial was recognized for an ongoing partnership with Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), which offers immigration legal services, education and advocacy. In addition, the gala raised nearly $60,000 to support pro bono activities across the state. See photos from the event or learn more about the initiative.

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LAET Grant Serves More, Yields More than Anticipated

A one-year grant that was expected to provide $250,000 in local benefits instead has resulted in more than six times that amount in half the time, Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) reports. Last fall, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga awarded LAET $20,000 to help low-income women and children escape abusive situations, rebuild their lives and achieve financial stability and security. The “Women in Crisis” program was expected to serve 50 women and their families over a 12-month period. In the first six months, however, LAET staff has served 28 victims and their families, and have identified $1.6 million in public benefits they qualified for but were not receiving.

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Court Names 3 to Full Terms on ATJ Commission

The Tennessee Supreme Court last week appointed Gail Vaughn Ashworth and Sharon R. Ryan to full three-year terms on the court’s Access to Justice Commission. They will serve through March 31, 2017. Ashworth was originally appointed to fill the unexpired seat of Bill Young, while Ryan was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Maura Abeln Smith. The court noted that both lawyers had made “valuable contributions” through “exemplary service to the commission” and should be appointed to full terms. The court also named Ann Jarvis Pruitt to the commission for a three-year term beginning April 1. She replaces Francis S. Guess, whose term expires on March 31. Download the court's order.

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New TBJ Explains Firms' HIPAA Obligations

Law firms acting as business associates to health care providers and other entities associated with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) must comply with large parts of the act. John V. Arnold's story in the April Tennessee Bar Journal outlines and explains what firms need to do. Also in this issue, Russell Fowler explores the history of lawyer Milton Brown, who in the 1830s took on an unpopular client because of his belief that everyone is entitled to legal representation. Also, Humor columnist Bill Haltom of Lewis Thomason shakes his head at the latest ranking of Top 100 Jobs from U.S. News & World Report -- and gives his thoughts on where "lawyer" comes in.

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KBA Community Law School Offers Free Legal Advice

In an interview with MetroPulse, Knoxville Bar Association Executive Director Marsha S. Wilson talks about the KBA’s Community Law School, a program that offers free legal assistance with topics like debt, mortgage foreclosures, and wills and advance directives. “The CLS is intended to provide unbiased information on the topics presented, and includes forms that can be utilized by the public. Volunteer local attorneys will be teaching the courses and will be available to answer questions from attendees,” Wilson said. For more information, visit the KBA wesbite or call (865) 522-6522.

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Faith-Based Pro Bono Conference a First for Tennessee

The Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission will hold the first-ever statewide gathering of faith-based organizations and pro bono lawyers on April 7 in Nashville. The Faith-Based Initiatives Summit is designed to bring together individuals and groups with a common interest in assisting Tennesseans with civil legal problems. The event will take place at Lipscomb University’s Ezell Center, and will highlight the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA), which was launched by the court and the commission last year. For more information or to register, email Christina Magráns or call her at (615) 741-2687.

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LAET to Hold Senior Handbook Event Thursday

The first of many events featuring the TBA’s new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors will take place Thursday in Knoxville when Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) holds a training session at the John T. O’Connor Senior Center. The event will begin at 2 p.m. TBA President Cindy Wyrick and Public Education Committee Co-Chair Angelia Nystrom will be joined by representatives from LAET and the Knoxville/Knox County Office on Aging to present the new resource and answer questions. For more information about the event, contact LAET’s Knoxville office at (865) 637-0484. For information on the Handbook, contact TBA Public Education Coordinator Liz Todaro, (615) 383-7421.

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ATJ Commission Holds Conference on Legal Clinic

The Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission is hosting a Pro Bono Legal Clinic Conference March 10 in Nashville. The conference will feature a variety of presentations and round-table discussions on topics such as recruiting attorney volunteers, publicizing clinics, reporting clinic result and assessing lessons learned. The event is open to any attorney who is interested in learning more about legal clinics. The conference will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Nashville Public Library. A $20 registration fee also includes lunch. For more information contact Christina Magráns, (615) 741-2687. To register send a check made payable to the Administrative Office of the Courts to the attention of Christina Magráns, Nashville City Center, Suite 600, 511 Union St., Nashville, TN 37219.

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Gideon’s Army Screening Set for March 3

The Nashville Public Defender’s Office is hosting a screening of the award-winning HBO documentary Gideon’s Army. The showing will take place next Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Carmike Bellevue 8 Cinema. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online. The film, which premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival, follows the stories of three young public defenders whose struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads causes them to challenge the assumptions of the current criminal justice system. The Nashville Public Defender’s Office reports that, like the lawyers featured in the film, it has joined a nationwide movement to reform indigent defense. Download a flyer about the event.

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TBA Releases Senior Handbook for Lawyers, Public

The Tennessee Bar Association today released The Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors to help Tennesseans better understand federal and state benefits, new health care laws and a wide range of other issues of importance to older citizens. It is available for download on the TBA website and will be the subject of presentations across the state starting this week and continuing during March. TBA members also may use the handbook in counseling their clients and may customize the front page to add their own firm’s logo and branding. In addition, the TBA will offer CLE sessions to equip members to make optimal use of the handbook in their practices.

The handbook, a project of TBA President Cindy Wyrick, was produced by the Public Education Committee and a host of volunteer lawyers under the leadership of Knoxville lawyer Angelia Nystrom. “As difficult as it is to fathom, an average of 7,000 Americans are becoming senior citizens each day,” Wyrick said in announcing release of the handbook. “This trend is expected to continue for years, so it is important that we do something meaningful to assist this rapidly growing, but typically underserved, segment of the population.”

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Court Seeks Pro Se/Death Penalty Law Clerk

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee is seeking a combined pro se/death penalty law clerk in Nashville. The closing date for applications is Feb. 26. The clerk will provide legal assistance to the court in connection with pro se/prisoner civil rights complaints, state habeas corpus petitions (including death penalty cases) and motions to vacate sentences in federal habeas corpus petitions. The clerk will perform substantive review of case records and filings, conduct legal research, draft proposed opinions and orders for each of the district judges, and provide information to chambers staff, court staff and pro se filers. Download the job description.

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Alternative Spring Break Volunteers Needed

This year’s Alternative Spring Break for law school students in Tennessee is shaping up to be the biggest yet with more than 75 students participating. In Memphis, lawyers are needed to supervise students March 11-13 as they prepare basic wills and advanced directives. Notaries also are needed. Morning and afternoon shifts are available. Contact Linda Warren Seely at Memphis Area Legal Services to volunteer.

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Legal Aid Society Adds Victims’ Advocate

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has hired Barbara Gunn Lartey as its new victims’ advocate. Prior to joining LAS, Gunn Lartey worked as a bilingual legal advocate at the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. She also has been a women’s education coordinator and bilingual medical case manager at Nashville Cares, a disability claims examiner at Social Security Disability Services, and an international development volunteer with the Peace Corps in Equatorial Guinea. She earned her law degree from Temple University School of Law.

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Chattanooga Firm Becomes Pillar Law Firm

Clark & Washington in Chattanooga has become one of only two Pillar Law Firm partners with Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Following a model developed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and its Access to Justice Commission, Pillar Law Firms select a particular area of law on which to focus their pro bono efforts and then receive steady referrals from Legal Aid in that area. Clark & Washington is accepting bankruptcy cases in which the client has significant debt and is in danger of losing his or her home, driver’s license, or having his or her wages garnished. The Hamilton County Herald has the story.

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Domestic Violence Program Extended

The Legal Challenge, a program that encourages Nashville-area attorneys to become more involved in domestic violence prevention, has been extended through February by the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Supported by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, District Attorney Torry Johnson and YWCA leaders, the program aims to get attorneys who are not typically involved in domestic violence cases to learn more about the issue and volunteer to perform pro bono work for victims. The YWCA created a brief online course in domestic violence that attorneys can take prior to volunteering. Law firms with the most participation will be recognized by the YWCA in April. The Tennessean has the story.

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MALS Hires New Donor Relations Officer

Memphis Area Legal Services has hired Memphis native Elizabeth Roane as chief donor relations officer to oversee marketing and community development. Roane has broad experience in marketing, development and account management, having served with national and international companies in Memphis and in the northeast. She previously was national marketing manager for a ServiceMaster company and director of marketing and program development for the City of Memphis’s Second Chance program. Roane graduated from Sweet Briar College. She also has studied marketing management at New York University and French at the Institute de Français in VilleFranch. She can be reached at eroane@malsi.org or (901) 523-8822.

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LSC Gets Funding Increase, New Pro Bono Program

The $1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill recently signed into law increases funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) by $25 million in fiscal year 2014 -- a seven percent increase from last year and the first increase in four years. The final bill also includes $2.5 million for a new Pro Bono Innovation Fund, which will support new and innovative pro bono projects across the country. The final spending bill provides $365 million for the agency. Of that, $335 million is for basic field grants, a six percent increase from last year. Learn more on the LSC website.

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Law Schools Team up for 3 Immigration Clinics

The Immigration Clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law will host three immigration clinics in the eastern part of the state beginning tomorrow. The events will be held in conjunction with Centro Hispano. Dates are Jan. 25 at Centro Hispano in Knoxville from 9 a.m. to noon; Feb. 22 in Lonsdale; and March 15 in Morristown. For more information or to to get involved, contact Tennessee professor Karla McKanders, (865) 974-5710.

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Legal Aid Names 2014 Community Fundraising Chairs

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (LAS) has announced that Linda and Art Rebrovick will serve as the 2014 community co-chairs of its annual Campaign for Equal Justice fundraising initiative. The community chairs focus on non-legal donors in Davidson and Williamson counties. Linda is CEO of Consensus Point and co-founder of Evolve Women. She serves on a variety of corporate and nonprofit boards. Art is president and CEO of Compass Executives and lead director of the Bank of Nashville. He is a board member and past president of the Turnaround Management Association and a member of Legal Aid’s Community Advisory Council. Read more in a release from LAS.

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Access to Justice Project Wins Frist Grant

Legal Needs Study to Help Identify Gaps in Service

The Frist Foundation has approved a grant requested by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission to support a comprehensive, statewide study of the legal needs of low-income and homeless Tennesseans.

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Leadership Conference Features Education, Honors

More than 100 Tennessee attorneys and law students packed the Tennessee Bar Center during Saturday's educational programming at the 2014 TBA Leadership Conference in Nashville. Those gathered heard a preview of the new Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors developed by the TBA's Public Education Committee, a glimpse at the growing Tennessee Youth Court program and an update on legislation likely to come before the Tennessee legislature this session. The group then headed to the War Memorial Auditorium for the annual TBA Public Service Luncheon,  where Clarksville mayor, lawyer and former State Rep. Kim McMillan spoke to the nearly 200 people gathered (see video of the luncheon here). "I believed I could made a difference," she said about why she has run for public office seven times. "The thing that makes it important to live a life of public service is to ask 'If I don't do it, who will?' That's why I do what I do." Also at the lunch, the TBA Public Service Awards were presented. Those honored were Chattanooga lawyer Charles "Buz" Dooley, who was named the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year; Johnson City attorney Deborah Yeomans, who earned the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award; and Belmont University law student Katie Blankenship, who was named the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Five firms were also recognized at the event for adopting formal pro bono policies.

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