News

LAET Names Sheri Fox as Executive Director

Sheri A. Fox has been named executive director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), the firm’s board of directors announced today. Fox replaces David R. Yoder, who retires Dec. 31. A long-time volunteer with LAET’s Pro Bono Project in Chattanooga, Fox has been recognized as an Attorney for Justice by the Tennessee Supreme Court. She previously worked in the Chattanooga office of Baker Donelson. “One of the primary reasons I joined Baker Donelson over 14 years ago was because of the firm’s demonstrated commitment to access to justice,” Fox said. “Given that commitment, it is not at all surprising that my Baker Donelson family ‘raised’ a lawyer who would one day take the helm of LAET."

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Report: Campbell County Judge Charging for Unused Defense Services

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Campbell County General Sessions Court Judge Amanda Sammons is charging people a fee for court-appointed counsel even if they do not use the service. Sammons said that in each incident, the families initially asked for court-appointed counsel before choosing to hire private lawyers. “The AOC fusses at us if we do not collect that fee. In order for the indigent defense [system] to work statewide, that fee must be paid,” Sammons said. But others say that the law establishing the fee as well as court rules provide a mechanism to waive the fee.

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Celebrate #GivingTuesday by Donating to TALS

Celebrate #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1, the Tuesday after Black Friday, by donating to help fund the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ (TALS) HELP4TN hotline. TALS is seeking to raise $10,000 to help up to 1,000 callers with free legal advice. Click here to donate

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Legal Aid Society Presents Inaugural Leadership Awards

The Tullahoma office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands recently presented two inaugural awards to local volunteers. The group honored Haven of Hope Executive Director Mona Mason with the Tullahoma Community Award for her efforts to improve services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in six Tennessee counties. In addition, Manchester attorneys J. Stanley Rogers, Christina Henley Duncan and Edward H. North -- individually and collectively as the law firm of Rogers, Duncan & North -- were given the agency's Pro Bono Leadership Award. The trio was honored for providing voluntary legal assistance to low-income individuals in Coffee County. Read more from the Tullahoma News.

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Legal Aid Partners with Nashville Public Schools

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will offer a free legal clinic on the third Saturday of each month through a partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). The clinic, staffed by volunteer attorneys, will be held at the MNPS English Learning Center, 615 Fessey Park Rd. “When parents are worried about legal issues at home, it can impact a child’s focus on education… Our partnership with MNPS is a strategic way to expand our reach to the city’s immigrant and refugee population,” said Lucinda Smith, director of Legal Aid's Volunteer Lawyers Program.

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New Family Justice Center Complex Approved in Chattanooga

The Chattanooga City Council approved $3.7 million for a new city complex that will house the Family Justice Center, the Children’s Advocacy Center and other organizations serving victims of abuse, The Times Free Press reports. The complex, expected to open in October 2016, will be located on Eastgate Loop and replace a temporary structure now there.

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Harwell Announced as Chair of the Campaign for Equal Justice

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands announced Trey Harwell will serve as the 2016 chair of the Campaign for Equal Justice, an annual initiative that raises funds for the Legal Aid Society. Harwell is an attorney and partner at Neal and Harwell PLC. “A longtime champion of access to justice, Trey has provided pro bono representation for our clients. He is a trusted ally, and we are grateful for his continued support of our mission across the region,” said Gary Housepian, Legal Aid Society’s executive director.

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ABA Adopts Tennessee Model for National Pro Bono Site

A recommendation by the ABA Pro Bono and Public Service Committee to create a new national pro bono web site based upon OnlineTNJustice.org was unanimously approved by the organization’s Board of Governors this weekend. Since May, about 40 states have signed on to participate, including Texas, Pennsylvania and New York. "The final hurdle to clear is funding. We are seeking sponsors inside and outside of Tennessee to help make this a reality in 2016,” Buck Lewis, chair of the Committee's Technology Subcommittee, said. “We are asking for all Tennessee lawyers to help with the effort to recruit sponsors."

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TJC Celebrates 20 Years with 'Hall of Fame' Event

The Tennessee Justice Center hosted a celebration on Thursday to mark its 20 years of service and to induct the organization’s founders into the “TJC Hall of Fame.” The event was held at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, with nearly 400 in attendance. The honored founders included: Margaret Behm, Mike Cody, Harlan Dodson, Harris Gilbert, Riney Green, David Herbert, Lowry Kline, Howard Vogel and Ashley Wiltshire. See photos from the event.

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TJC Celebrates 20 Years of Service

Fall 2015 Admission Ceremony

TJC Executive Director Michele Johnson and Board Chair Mike Abelow welcome guests to the sold out event. 

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LAET Event at Speedway to Honor Volunteer Lawyers

Three Tennessee Supreme Court justices will join Legal Aid of East Tennessee in recognizing the volunteer service of lawyers in Upper East Tennessee at an awards dinner Nov. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee and Justices Cornelia A. Clark and Jeffrey S. Bivins will help honor lawyers who participated in LAET’s Pro Bono Project, along with those who achieved the distinction of “Attorneys for Justice” by providing more than 50 hours of volunteer legal services in their communities. Tickets are available for $50 per person.

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Board Members Quit Washington State Bar During Dispute

A long-running feud among the leaders of the Washington State Bar Association’s Practice of Law Board regarding access-to-justice has resulted in mass resignations of board members, the ABA Journal reports. “The Washington State Bar Association has a long record of opposing efforts that threaten to undermine its monopoly on the delivery of legal services,” four resigning board members wrote in a letter released Monday.

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TBJ Columns Cover Crime, History, Humor and Books

Columns in the November Tennessee Bar Journal include Wade Davies’s criminal law, Russell Fowler’s history and Bill Haltom’s humor. Davies writes about "(Not) Summary Judgment," Fowler is all about Ida B.Wells, and Haltom reminds us the power of a hand-written note. Candi Henry reviews the book, The Billable Hour. The Journal’s 50th Birthday is celebrated this month with a story about the background of the magazine’s and other TBA publications’ proper names (which is not nearly as boring as this makes it sound). Read it!

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Madison County CASA Launches New Website

Madison County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) launched its new website Thursday, The Jackson Sun reports. The new website was funded through a grant from the Jackson Service League.

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Advocate for Domestic Violence Victims Honored by Legal Aid Society

Lisa Baird, executive director of Cannon County S.A.V.E, was honored by the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’ Murfreesboro office with the organization’s inaugural Murfreesboro Community Award. S.A.V.E. is a non-profit agency that provides domestic violence victims with court advocacy, counseling and emergency shelter. “(Lisa) is an oasis in the middle of a desert for victims in Cannon County who would have nowhere to turn,” Andrae Crismon, managing attorney of Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office, said.

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Attorneys Needed to Offer Artists Free Legal Advice

Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts seeks attorneys to offer free legal advice to artists of all forms on Nov. 16 at 55 Music Square E. in Nashville. Thirty-minute appointments will be available from 5-7 p.m. for questions regarding songwriting contracts, intellectual property and more. RSVP by email or by calling (615) 460-8274. Contact Casey Summar with any questions.

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Law Students Get Public Service Lessons at ATJ Summit

Representatives from all six Tennessee law schools gathered in Nashville over the weekend with leaders from the access to justice community for the fourth Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit, hosted by Nashville School of Law and sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. About 30 people took part in the program, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee and Nashville School of Law Dean (and former Supreme Court Justice) William Koch.

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Law Students Gather for Pro Bono Summit

Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit

Representatives from law schools and legal aid gather at the fourth Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit. Pictured (from left): Brad Morgan (UT College of Law), Andrew McRee (Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law), Dave Yoder (Legal Aid of East Tennessee), John Lewis and Dean William Koch (Nashville School of Law), Jeffrey Usman (Belmont University College of Law) and Spring Miller (Vanderbilt Law School). 


Representatives from all six Tennessee law schools gathered in Nashville over the weekend with leaders from the access to justice community for the fourth Law School Pro Bono & Public Interest Summit, hosted by Nashville School of Law and sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. About 30 people took part in the program, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee and Nashville School of Law Dean (and former Supreme Court Justice) William Koch, as well as representatives from legal aid organizations. Dave Yoder, Executive Director of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Samantha Sanchez from Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Liz Logsdon from Disability Rights Tennessee all presented about the work of their organizations and opportunities for involvement from law students and recent graduates.

The conference included remarks from Chief Justice Lee, Dean Koch and Nashville School of Law faculty and TBA ATJ Committee Member John Lewis. Participants engaged in conversations about the need, opportunity, challenges and possibilities surrounding pro bono and public interest work and related access to justice issues. The two day summit included active discussions led by ATJ Committee members Brad Morgan (UT College of Law), Jeffrey Usman (Belmont University College of Law), Andrew McRee (Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law), Spring Miller (Vanderbilt Law School) and law student representatives from each of the schools.

For more information on this or other related TBA Access to Justice programs, please contact Liz Todaro, TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Liz Todaro.  

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Law Schools Criticized for Living Off Student Loans

The New York Times writes on what it calls the law school “death spiral” – a consequence of increased free federal loans and lowered admission standards to maintain enrollment in a stalled legal job market. “The government must require accountability from law schools that live off student loans,” the editorial board writes. “Even as law schools are churning out unqualified graduates stuck under hopeless mountains of debt, millions of poor and lower-income Americans remain desperate for quality legal representation."

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Legal Clinic Planned for Tomorrow in Memphis

Memphis Area Legal Services will continue its ongoing Thursday Afternoon Clinic tomorrow in Memphis during Celebrate Pro Bono Month. The legal clinic is held in room 140 of the D’Army Bailey Civil Courthouse from 1:30 – 4 p.m. For more information, contact Cindy Ettingoff.

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State Officials Support 'Celebrate Pro Bono Month'

State officials are encouraging Tennesseans to learn more about their legal options this month, NewsChannel 9 reports. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance's Division of Consumer Affairs reminds everyone that National Celebrate Pro Bono Week is being observed Oct. 25-31 across the nation. The department says that the week is a good time for people to "educate themselves when it comes to their legal options, which could be a title search, estate planning or a legal defense." In Tennessee more than 50 events are happening across the state during October. Now in its seventh year, the Tennessee initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. Learn more about the 2015 Celebrate Pro Bono Initiative.

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Bradley Arant is a Top Charitable Giver

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was recently recognized by Law360 as one of the nation’s 10 most charitable law firms, making donations of more than $1.15 million in 2014. According to a Law360 survey, these firms gave back to their communities "by funneling millions of dollars into worthy organizations and programs to fund legal aid efforts, education programs and services for the disadvantaged." See the list and learn more.

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Stevenson to Speak at Knox County PD Event

The Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office, in celebration of its 25th Anniversary and in partnership with East Tennessee Foundation, is hosting an evening with New York Times best-selling author Bryan Stevenson. The Nov. 9 event will be at the Crowne Plaza Knoxville. Stevenson wrote the book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, about his work with the Equal Justice Initiative.

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TJC to Celebrate 20 Years at Event Honoring Founders

The Tennessee Justice Center is hosting a hosting a celebration to mark its 20 years of service. The event will be Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. Founders of the organization being honored include: Margaret Behm, Mike Cody, Harlan Dodson, Harris Gilbert, Riney Green, David Herbert, Lowry Kline, Howard Vogel and Ashley Wiltshire.

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LAET to Host Clinic in Maryville

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will hold a clinic on Oct. 31 in Maryville from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. at the Blount County Library, 508 North Cusick St. The clinic is open to the public and no appointments are necessary. For more information or to volunteer, contact Terry Woods. See the full list of Celebrate Pro Bono Month events.

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