News

Corporate Counsel Gala Honors Pro Bono Work

Corporate counsel and private bar lawyers, along with a diverse group of sponsors, were honored at the Seventh Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala in Nashville this past Saturday. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade gave the keynote address, praising the initiative’s emphasis on pro bono service and encouraging all lawyers to fulfill the ethical responsibility of providing legal assistance to those in need. TBA President Jackie Dixon presented this year’s awards to Memphis-based Burch, Porter & Johnson for its partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and to the corporate legal department of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee in Chattanooga for its Street Law program and new Hamilton County Legal Clinic. See photos from the event or read more about the award recipients.

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Legal Aid Kicks off 2013 Campaign for Equal Justice

More than 150 lawyers gathered for the Kickoff Luncheon for the 2013 Campaign for Equal Justice benefiting the Legal Aid Society and the Nashville Pro Bono Program. Campaign Chair Thor Urness of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP announced that the campaign has already raised $440,000 towards its goal of $760,000. Featured speaker Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. emphasized the responsibility of every lawyer to provide pro bono assistance, especially given the significant cuts in legal aid funding in recent years.

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Campaign for Equal Justice Kicks off 2013 Campaign

More than 150 lawyers gathered today for a Kickoff Luncheon to the 2013 Campaign for Equal Justice benefiting the Legal Aid Society and the Nashville Pro Bono Program. Campaign Chair Thor Urness of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP announced that the campaign has already raised $440,000 towards its goal of $760,000. Featured speaker Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. emphasized the responsibility of every lawyer to provide pro bono assistance, especially given the significant cuts in legal aid funding in recent years. More than 30 law firms in Davidson and Williamson counties were recognized for their role in the Leadership Cabinet, contributing at least $400 per attorney to the campaign. Every year, the Legal Aid Society and its pro bono partners serve thousands of low-income individuals in 48 Tennessee counties. Pinnacle Financial Partners sponsored the event at the City Club. See photos from the event.

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Legal Aid Receives Medical-Legal Partnership Grant

The Legal Aid Society has received a $40,388 grant from Baptist Healing Trust to further the groups’ medical-legal partnership in Middle Tennessee. The funds will allow Legal Aid to provide free, direct legal service to low-income patients and their families receiving treatment at two Nashville clinics – the United Neighborhood Health Services Clinic and the Vanderbilt University’s student-run Shade Tree Clinic. It also will fund training and education to help health care workers identify patients’ need for legal assistance related to their illnesses. The agency announced the news today.

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TBA to Recognize 2013 Corporate Pro Bono Honorees

The Memphis law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson and Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will be recognized for their commitment to providing free legal services at the 7th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala Saturday in Nashville. The event will feature remarks by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Doug Blaze, dean of the University of Tennessee College of Law. The awards will be presented by TBA President Jackie Dixon along with Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Co-Chairs Jim Barry with International Paper and Andy Branham with Counsel On Call. The 2013 Law Firm Award will be presented to Burch, Porter & Johnson for a partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital that helps low-income families establish conservatorships for children too neurologically impaired to consent to their own treatment. The Legal Department Award will be presented to BlueCross for its continuing partnership with Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel to present the Street Law program at Brainerd High School, as well as for a new community legal clinic it organized last year with the support of Legal Aid of East Tennessee and Miller & Martin PLLC.

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Legal Aid Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign

The Legal Aid Society will launch its 2013 Campaign for Equal Justice at a March 5 luncheon at the Nashville City Club. The annual campaign raises money for the society, as well as the Nashville Pro Bono Program. The event, which will run from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., will feature a keynote address by Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. and an introduction of campaign leadership. To attend, please RSVP by Friday to Cindy Durham at the Legal Aid Society at (615) 780-7125 or at cdurham@las.org.

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Learn How to Start a Legal Clinic at Friday Event

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission is hosting a seminar Friday for those interested in starting a legal clinic in their area. The presentation will cover issues such as recruiting attorney volunteers, publicizing a clinic, dealing with conflict checks and malpractice insurance. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. To learn more or to RSVP email Palmer Williams at the Administrative Office of the Courts or call (615) 741-2687 x 1414.

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Volunteers Needed for Saturday Events

The TBA Young Lawyers Division has two events taking place on Saturday that still need attorney volunteers. First, in Franklin, the Williamson County Mock Trial Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. and runs throughout the day. Attorneys are needed to serve as scorers while law students or legal staff are needed to serve as bailiffs. Please contact Shauna Billingsley at (615) 550-6603 or shauna.billingsley@franklintn.gov for more information. On the western side of the state, the Memphis Wills for Heroes clinic is drawing record numbers of first responders. Approximately 10 attorneys are still needed for the afternoon shift at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Please contact Joann Coston-Holloway at (901) 577-8223 or jholloway@bakerdonelson.com for details.

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Knoxville Bar Foundation Accepting Grant Proposals

The Knoxville Bar Foundation (KBF) is accepting grant proposals to fund programs that improve the administration of justice, enhance the public's understanding of and confidence in the legal system, and serve the legal profession. The deadline for submitting applications is March 1. Download an application or contact KBF Chair J. Michael Haynes at (865) 292-2307 or mhaynes@hdclaw.com for more information.

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ABA House Adopts Range of Resolutions

The ABA House of Delegates approved a range of resolutions today at its winter meeting in Dallas, the ABA Journal reports. Proposals garnering support included those urging lawmakers to provide adequate funding for federal courts and the Legal Services Corp.; creating a new national entity to help public defenders dealing with excessive caseloads; providing guidance for an amicus brief in a case on the patenting of isolated human genes; giving foreign lawyers limited authority to serve as in-house counsel in the United States; encouraging lawyers to provide unbundled legal services; clarifying a model rule dealing with conflicts of interest in multi jurisdictional cases; and urging federal courts to instruct grand jury members that they are not bound to indict just because a conviction can be obtained. The body also approved a series of resolutions addressing human trafficking, a key issue for ABA President Laurel G. Bellows.

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Court Launches Pro Bono Recognition Program

The Tennessee Supreme Court is launching a volunteer recognition program to honor lawyers who provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service annually. The program is entirely voluntary and based on self-reporting. Attorneys are encouraged to begin tracking their work this year. Those who meet the goal will be named “Attorneys for Justice” by the court and will be honored at regional events across the state. Those meeting the criteria also will receive a certificate signed by the justices, be listed in an Honor Roll published by the court, and be authorized to use a seal of their accomplishment on websites and marketing materials. The program was recommended by the court’s Access to Justice Commission.

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Gov. Haslam, 2 Former Governors Headline Civility Forum

Gov. Bill Haslam will be joined by former governors Phil Bredesen and Don Sundquist to headline a public forum on civility and effective governance sponsored by the TBA on Feb. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Knoxville. The event, the third in a series of forums held across the state, will explore how issues of civility play out in the political and public policy arena by focusing on the service of former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr. Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom, who is writing a book about Baker, will moderate the discussion. The forum will take place in the Toyota Auditorium of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. The Baker Center, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the First Amendment Center are co-sponsors of the program, which is made possible by a grant from the American Bar Association Division for Public Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Pro Bono Groups, Public Defender to Help Homeless

On Feb. 13, the Legal Aid Society, Nashville Pro Bono Program and Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender’s Office will organize more than 40 legal professionals and volunteers to provide free legal help to those who attend Project Homeless Connect – a one-day event that brings together more than 70 agencies to serve approximately 1,500 individuals and families struggling with homelessness, housing issues and unemployment. It is the first time the pro bono groups have joined the public defender in providing services to this group. The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, 300 Wedgewood Ave., Nashville.

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Farewell Reception for Cole Next Tuesday

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) invites friends and colleagues to a farewell reception honoring departing Executive Director Erik Cole next Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the law firm of Dodson, Parker Behm & Capparella, 1310 6th Ave. North, Nashville. Remarks will begin at 5 p.m. Cole has served as TALS’ executive director since 2005. He is departing to take a position with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, where he will oversee the Financial Empowerment Center hosted by the mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development. Cole will work on creating new programs to bring financial stability and empowerment to low-income Nashvillians. Download the invitation.

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Durand Remembered as Kind, Giving Advocate

Memphis lawyer Kemper Durand, who died last Saturday, is remembered by friend and law partner Bill Haltom in this tribute out today. Among Durand's notable accomplishments was his pro bono work that secured freedom for an innocent man who had been in jail 22 years. Read that inspiring story in a 2002 Tennessee Bar Journal article. A crime victim himself, Durand once testified, Haltom writes, for one of his kidnappers to recieve the most lenient sentence possible because he felt the man was an unwilling accomplice. Details for a memorial service, set for next month, are incomplete.

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50 Years after 'Gideon,' Indigent Defense Funding Still an Issue

In her Tennessee Bar Journal column this month, President Jackie Dixon looks back at the 50 years since the Gideon decision, explaining why adequate funding is still needed for indigent defense.

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Court to Require Electronic Filing of Indigent Compensation Claims

The Tennessee Supreme Court has issued an order, effective July 1, that requires electronic submission of all compensation claims for counsel of indigent defendants. The order, Rule 13A, makes amendments to Supreme Court Rules 13, 15 and 42, concerning indigent counsel, mental health proceedings and standards for court interpreters.

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Court Initiative Connects Pro Bono Lawyers, Faith Communities

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has formed a faith-based initiative to encourage lawyers to provide pro bono services within their places of worship, and to support faith-based groups that commit to provide legal resources to their congregations and communities. The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance (TFJA) is designed to connect with people in need in a place they already go to seek help with a problem. “Faith communities are a natural fit with our efforts to help those in need find access to legal advice,” said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia A. Clark. “And with our goal of helping more lawyers find more occasions to provide pro bono services, this is the ideal opportunity for attorneys to put faith in action in their own worship communities." For more information contact Palmer Williams at (615) 741-2687 ext. 1414 or palmer.williams@tncourts.gov.

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Legal Aid Receives Grant to Help Low-Income Women

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has received a $10,000 grant to represent low-income women in Washington County through its Access to Civil Justice Project for Women. The money, according to the Kingsport Times News, comes from the Harris Fund for Washington County. The agency said the funds would provide representation to 25 women facing legal crises such as domestic violence, homelessness due to unlawful eviction or foreclosure, and wrongful denial of unemployment compensation benefits.

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Immigration Attorney Finds Ideal Job with CLC

Johnna Bailey began working as immigration attorney for the Community Legal Center (CLC) in January, an ideal job for her given her nonprofit background. “It’s what I dreamed of returning to after law school,” she told the Memphis Daily News. After college, Bailey worked as a program coordinator for the family literacy program at a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. That inspired her to go to law school where she then served as an associate in a private immigration group. Now at the CLC, Bailey represents clients and trains lawyers to take on pro bono immigration cases. She said the Memphis legal community has been willing and eager to help when called.

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aLEGALz in the News

Stories from Knoxville’s WATE News 6, Nashville’s WDEF News 12 and WSMV News 4 covered the new aLEGALz toll-free hotline, which provides free legal information and referrals. The service was launched by the joint effort of a coalition of Tennessee legal groups, including the Tennessee Bar Association.

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Sandy Relief Bill Includes $1 Million for Legal Services

The Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill that passed the U.S. Senate yesterday includes $1 million for the Legal Services Corporation to provide assistance to low-income people in areas significantly affected by the super storm. The Legal Services Corporation says that individuals and families encounter a variety of civil legal needs after recovering from a natural disaster, including preventing wrongful eviction, obtaining repairs to damaged rental housing, and contesting inappropriate denials of insurance claims.

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Public Service Luncheon Video Now Available

If you missed the 2013 Public Service Luncheon, you can now watch it online. The program features the presentation of awards to the Law Student Volunteer of the Year, the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year and the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year, as well as the keynote address from former Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Tate.

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Law Student Pro Bono Conference Wraps Up

More than 30 students and faculty representing law schools across Tennessee gathered at the Belmont University College of Law last week to strategize and plan for increasing pro bono opportunities for law students. The group was invited by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and joined by representatives from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. The event kicked off with a keynote speech by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and continued with planning discussions led by TBA committee members. See photos from the event.

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UT Law Reps to Speak at Poverty, Access to Justice Symposium

University of Tennessee College of Law Dean Doug Blaze and Access to Justice Coordinator Brad Morgan will be among the speakers at the upcoming Poverty and Access to Justice Symposium, sponsored by the Pro Bono Initiative at the University of Mississippi School of Law. At the symposium, The Informant freports that state supreme court justices, appellate and trial judges, scholars and practitioners will examine barriers to the justice system, creative legal service delivery methods and specific programs that are proving effective.

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