News

Deadline for Public Service Awards Extended to Sept.19

The deadline for submitting nominations for the TBA’s three annual Public Service Awards has been extended to Sept. 19. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. Awards will be presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January 2017.

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Missouri Ordered to Reveal Injection Drug Suppliers

Two Mississippi death-row inmates are entitled to learn the identity of Missouri’s lethal injection drug suppliers, according to a panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The inmates allege that Mississippi’s method of execution amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and are seeking to identify an alternative method, such as that used in Missouri. Officials in Missouri say they will ask the full Eighth Circuit to hear the case. The ABA Journal has more.

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TBA President Praises Lawyers' Contributions at EJU

TBA President Jason Long today voiced gratitude and admiration for the legal services professionals and pro bono volunteers gathered this week at the Equal Justice University, and emphasized that the Tennessee Bar Association’s initiative focused on the Evolving Legal Market has much to offer the access to justice community. Three Tennessee lawyers were recognized for their commitment to access to justice during an Awards Dinner Wednesday night. Craig Barnes with Memphis Area Legal Services and Russell Fowler from Legal Aid of East Tennessee both received the B. Riney Green Award for their work with their organizations and throughout the community. The award is named to honor Nashville attorney Green’s collaborative efforts to prevent cuts to legal aid funding in the late 1990s and is presented to individuals that promote inter-program cooperation and strengthen access to justice across the state. Zac Oswald with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands also was honored with the New Advocate of the Year Award.

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Governor Gets Reprieve from Indigent Defense Case

Missouri Gov. and lawyer Jay Nixon, who was ordered by the state’s public defender to provide legal aid to indigent defendants, has received a reprieve from a local judge who says the public defender does not have authority to appoint private counsel without approval by a judge. The director of the public defender system had utilized an obscure legal provision to assign the governor to cases after Nixon cut funding for indigent defense and vetoed a bill that would have provided caseload relief. Following his reprieve, Nixon named three new members to the commission that oversees the public defender’s office. The positions had been vacant for some time, the ABA Journal reports.

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Barry, Ryan Honored at Opening of EJU Conference

The annual Equal Justice University kicked off today in Murfreesboro with Jim Barry and Sharon Ryan of International Paper in Memphis being presented the Holder Award at the Welcome Luncheon. Programming continued through the afternoon and tonight more Tennessee attorneys will be honored for their good works at the annual Awards Dinner. TBA President Jason Long will address the gathering during tomorrow’s Leadership Luncheon, where newly elected Chief Justice Jeff Bivins will be given the oath of office by Justice Sharon Lee. The annual event is sponsored by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association.

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Lewis Named Chair of ABA Pro Bono Committee

Baker Donelson shareholder George T. “Buck” Lewis has been named chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, his law firm announced. The committee is responsible for developing and assessing pro bono programs and policies that affect lawyers’ ability to provide free legal services. Lewis, who practices in Memphis, is a past chair of the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission. As president of the TBA, he spearheaded the “4ALL” campaign and development of a web-based legal advice platform. Most recently, he has been helping the ABA roll out a national online pro bono tool modeled on the Tennessee service. ABAFreeLegalAnswers.org will launch in 39 states between now and Nov. 11. In Tennessee, the site has been rebranded as TN.FreeLegalAnswers.org.

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Public Defender Sought in 19th District

The General Sessions Court in the 19th Judicial District is looking to fill an opening for an assistant district public defender. The assignment may be in either Robertson or Montgomery County. The start date will be Nov. 16. Interested candidates should send a recent writing sample, three employment references, three colleague references, a copy of their Tennessee law license, a statement of good standing from the Board of Professional Responsibility and information for a background check no later than Sept. 9. Learn more about the job on the TBA website.

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Chief Justice Highlights Court’s Accomplishments

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee recently spoke to chief justices from across the country at a national conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Lee focused her remarks on accomplishments achieved during her tenure as chief justice. She steps down from that role at the end of the month. Lee praised the state legislature for funding the court’s new electronic filing system and raises for staff. She also talked about efforts to ensure consistency of process and procedures in the state’s juvenile courts and highlighted the Access to Justice Initiative, civics education through the SCALES program, a new business court, a new human trafficking court and an indigent representation task force. Read her full remarks and see a photo gallery of her time as chief justice.

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Legal Aid Relocates Tullahoma Office

After 35 years in the same location, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’ Tullahoma office has moved to 281 Industrial Blvd. All phone numbers remain unchanged. Six employees work at the office providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals in Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore and Warren counties. The organization announced the move in a recent newsletter to supporters.

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Inaugural Veterans’ Clinic Coming in September

The Knoxville Bar Association’s inaugural Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic will take place Sept. 7 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, 1101 Liberty St., Knoxville 37912. The clinic is a joint project of the Knoxville Barristers and their Access to Justice Committee, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knox County Public Defender’s Office, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the local VA office. Lawyers are needed to volunteer to help veterans with a wide variety of issues, including family, landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, criminal defense, consumer protection, contract disputes, child support and personal injury cases. WATE reports on the event.

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Legal Aid Reports $23M Impact on Middle Tennessee

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has tallied its annual impact on the region and found it provided $23.3 million worth of free legal assistance in 2015 – a 2.6 percent increase over 2014. The group also reported that it handled 7,022 cases across its 48-county service area; organized 76 free legal clinics, which served 1,447 attendees; coordinated 733 free legal educational seminars with almost 29,400 attendees; and distributed 64,607 self-help brochures. The agency this year also launched a re-entry program that helps people with criminal records deal with civil legal issues such as fairness in housing, employment and health care. Read more from the agency’s year-end report.

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Reminder: Public Service Award Nominations Due Sept. 9

Nominations for the TBA’s three annual Public Service Awards are due Sept. 9. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. Awards will be presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January 2017.

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Bivins Swearing in to Take Place at EJU Luncheon

Newly elected Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins will take the oath of office during the upcoming Equal Justice University in Murfreesboro. Justice Connie Clark will present the oath to Bivins at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services' Leadership Luncheon, set for noon on Sept. 1. TBA President Jason Long is the featured speaker and Duncan School of Law is the sponsor of the Leadership Lunch. Those not attending the conference but who would like to attend the lunch should register online by Wednesday.

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LAET to Move to Historic Stair Building

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and the city of Knoxville will sign a lease agreement Monday that will clear the way for the legal aid organization to move to the historic Stair Building on LMU’s Duncan School of Law campus in downtown Knoxville. Under the arrangement, LMU will renovate the building and lease it to LAET for $1 a year. A ceremonial signing will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the law school. Dean Gary R. Wade, LAET Executive Director Sherri Fox, LMU President B. James Dawson and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero will be on hand to ink the deal.

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Legal Aid Seeking Attorneys in 5 Offices

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands currently has several attorney positions available in its Cookeville, Gallatin, Oak Ridge, Tullahoma and Nashville offices. The agency is also looking for law student interns and attorney volunteers in all of its offices. Those interested in applying should send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and three references to Legal Aid Society, Human Resources Administrator, 575 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Suite 201, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 or by email to HR@las.org.

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Court Seeks Comments on 2 Proposals, Sets Legal Aid Funding Ratios

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued three orders. The first amends Rule 11 Section VI(a)(1), which sets out the amounts that the state’s four legal aid organizations receive from the Civil Legal Representation of Indigents Fund. The order, which will take effect Sept. 1, changes the percentage of funding each organization receives based on the percent of poverty in their service areas. The second order seeks comments by Sept. 19 on a proposal by the Board of Professional Responsibility and Tennessee Bar Foundation to amend Rules 8 and 43 to allow attorneys to deposit trust funds in federally insured credit unions. The third order seeks comments by Nov. 17 on a proposal by theTBA to amend Rule 8 to make a number of changes recommended by the ABA's Commission on Ethics 20/20.

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Legal Aid Gets $15,000 Grant for Food Stamp Advocacy

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has received a $15,000 grant to support the anti-hunger efforts of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. This is the third year the agency has received money from the national nonprofit working to end hunger in the United States and Israel. Funds will be used to advocate for clients receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Russell Overby and Emma Sholl in the Nashville office and Theresa-Vay Smith in the Oak Ridge office will focus on this work.

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ABA Unveils New Tools for ATJ Efforts, Solo Lawyers

The ABA this week announced two new efforts. The first, a new Center for Innovation, is designed to increase access to justice and improve the delivery of legal services through innovative programs and initiatives. The second is a new web-based tool to help solo and small firm lawyers manage their practices. The ABA Blueprint program will launch this fall and offer information on technology, marketing, retirement and insurance services.

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Warren Seely Named ABA Section Director

Tennessee lawyer Linda Warren Seely has been named the new director of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. She will take office Sept. 1. Seely served as director of pro bono projects for Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) for nine years and later became director of MALS’ Campaign for Equal Justice. She recently left MALS to join a Step Ahead Foundation, working to help women learn about and access birth control. Seely is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association and the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women. She currently serves in the TBA House of Delegates, and on the governing boards of the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation, Madison County CASA and Tennessee Bar Foundation. 

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Registration for EJU Closes Friday

Registration for the 2016 Equal Justice University will close this Friday. Don’t miss your chance to celebrate this year’s pro bono award recipients and hear from Tennessee Bar Association President Jason Long at this annual event sponsored by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the TBA.

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TBA Accepting Nominations for Public Service Awards

The TBA each year recognizes lawyers and law students who have shown exceptional commitment to increasing access to justice for individuals and communities through its Public Service Awards. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization primarily involved in providing legal representation to the indigent, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. The nomination period for 2016 honorees is now open. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. Nominations are due no later than Sept. 9. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Awards are presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January.

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Seersucker Flash Set for Aug. 31 in Memphis

Make plans now to don your best puckered suit, dress or casual wear and join Memphis-area lawyers for the 2016 Seersucker Flash Mob. The event, announced by the Memphis Bar Association, will take place Aug. 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Ave. It will also raise funds for Memphis Area Legal Services and A Step Ahead Foundation.

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Roen to Head MALS Pro Bono Services

Leah Roen is the new director of pro bono services at Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). She joins the agency after 26 years in private practice at her own firm and at Thorp, Fones & Frulla, which has since dissolved. She is a University of Memphis School of Law graduate. At MALS, she hopes to increase the number of Memphis attorneys who volunteer at pro bono clinics, especially those who practice domestic and family law, and form partnerships with agencies and churches that could host new legal clinics. The Memphis Daily News has more on her background.

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Indigent Task Force Holds Final Hearing

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force held its final listening session today in Franklin, hearing from more than a dozen members of the private bar and parents of children in the child welfare system. The task force will meet in September to consider all comments and recommendations submitted during the tour and discuss the timing of presenting its own findings.

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Legal Aid Names Community Fundraising Chair

George Anderson, co-founder of the Nashville-based insurance agency Anderson Benson, has been named community chair for the Legal Aid Society’s 2016 fundraising campaign. In this role, Anderson will support the Campaign for Equal Justice by raising money from non-legal donors across Middle Tennessee. “The lack of support in the civil justice system is one of the most overlooked problems society has,” Anderson says. “I want to educate those in the Middle Tennessee area why having an organization that can provide this counsel and advocacy is important to them, their families and our community.”

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