News

'Volunteer Attorney' Shows New Concept in Pro Bono

The spring 2012 edition of The Tennessee Volunteer Attorney provides news from across the state about the pro bono and legal aid work being done by you and your colleagues in the bar. This issue features a new concept in pro bono, the Pillar Firm Pro Bono Initiative, where law firms can choose a substantive area of law, train and develop expertise, and Legal Aid will direct those particular kinds of cases to them. For example in Nashville, Baker Donelson will focus on parenting plans in divorce cases; Bass Berry will focus on landlord tenant cases; Bradley Arant will focus on appeals of denials of Medicaid benefits; Miller & Martin will focus on divorces; Stites & Harbison will focus on appeals of the denial of unemployment benefits; and Waller will focus on debt clinics and debtor litigation. Download The Volunteer Attorney

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House Passes Funding for LSC

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved $328 million in FY 2013 for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) after turning back two amendments that would have further cut or eliminated funding for the agency. One of those amendments, offered by Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., would have eliminated all funding. See how Tennessee lawmakers voted on the amendment

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Editorial: Linking Welfare to Drug Tests a Good Idea

In an editorial, the Times-Free Press says "it is entirely reasonable that Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill linking welfare benefits to drug tests for recipients" who are suspected of using drugs. The paper says multigenerational dependence on welfare is a serious enough problem already and the move should help "stop subsidizing lifestyles of drug abusers."

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ABA YLD Presents Legal Clinic, Awards

The ABA YLD Spring Meeting wrapped up this past weekend with a legal clinic for veterans, a presentation by the TBA YLD, and an award ceremony honoring two Tennessee lawyers. Attorneys from across the country in Nashville for the meeting helped serve 20 veterans during Project Salute. Later, Memphis lawyer and YLD Diversity Committee Chair Ahsaki Baptist spoke to attendees about the group’s Diversity Leadership Institute, which was named one of four finalists for the ABA’s Next Steps Challenge Grant. The conference wrapped up Saturday with a panel discussion featuring Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch, Vanderbilt Law School Professor Brian T. Fitzpatrick and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch speaking about recent funding cuts and attacks on the judicary. TBA Executive Director Allan F. Ramsaur moderated the discussion.

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Fast Money: LAET Hosts Fundraiser at Speedway

Legal Aid of East Tennessee -- in collaboration with the Bristol Motor Speedway, Speedway Children’s Charities and East Tennessee Region Sports Car Club of America -- held a benefit event at the Speedway on Sunday, where about 100 drivers competed in the “Solo Time” autocross. Competitors also had an opportunity to try out the drag strip. The first-time effort earned $9,000, to be shared between LAET and Speedway Children’s Charities. Commemorative t-shirts are available. For information, t-shirt, a schedule of upcoming fundraising events or registration information, contact Dave Yoder.

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Williamson Volunteers to be Honored Friday

The Williamson County Bar Association will honor four legal figures at its Friday Law Day luncheon. The Legal Aid Society and Nashville Pro Bono Program will honor Clerk and Master of Chancery Court Elaine Beeler for her work in establishing the Volunteer Lawyer Program, and it will honor Bill Lane, Diane Crosier and Ben Papa as 2012 Pro Bono Volunteers of the Year, the Tennessean reports.

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Courts Recognized for Language Access Programs

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) recently received several awards from the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts for its efforts to eliminate language barriers for persons with limited English proficiency. Among the initiatives recognized were those providing remote interpreting services through Internet video conferencing, interpreter services in criminal cases for non-indigent defendants, and translation of order of protection forms into five languages. The AOC also was recognized for its successful legislative efforts to secure an additional $2 million in funding to cover interpreter services in all cases. The AOC reports

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House Committee Cuts $20M from LSC

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee last week approved $328 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in 2013, a cut of $20 million from current levels. The funding is included in the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which committee leaders said would be on the House floor May 8. The companion committee in the Senate has approved $402 million for the agency, which received $348 million last year. Read more from the LSC

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Wills for Heroes Clinic Set for Saturday

Attorneys in upper East Tennessee will provide free wills for emergency responders on Saturday as part of the TBA Young Lawyers Division’s Wills for Heroes program. Event organizer and YLD District Representative Rachel Ralston says both attorney and non-attorney volunteers are still needed. The event takes place at the Washington County/Johnson City EMS Center at 296 Wesley St. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact Ralston at (423) 943-3101 or rralston@hsdlaw.com for more information or to volunteer. The Johnson City Press has more

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Court Exempts Pro Bono Credit from Filing Fee

The Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday issued an order amending Supreme Court Rule 21, Section 4.07(c) to exempt all credit hours awarded for pro bono legal representation from the per-hour fee imposed by Section 8 and collected by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization. Under court rules, the commission may award one hour of ethics and professionalism credit for every five billable hours of pro bono legal representation. The court said that the per-hour fee that was being charged to cover administrative costs no longer would be collected. It noted in the order that lawyers who perform pro bono work provide an invaluable service not only to their clients but also to the state’s system of justice, and should be exempt from the fees. Download the order

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Project Salute Planned for Nashville

The American Bar Association YLD is holding its spring meeting in Nashville this week and will be hosting a Project Salute Clinic on Friday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The program, which is the group's primary public service initiative for the year, educates American veterans on the benefits available to them and helps them obtain those benefits. The program is being led this year by Nashville attorney Matt Potempa. To participate in the clinic, volunteer lawyers must be VA-accredited and complete a three-hour training session. To volunteer for the Nashville clinic, contact Knoxville lawyer Troy Weston at tweston@ebtlaw.com or (865) 544-2010.

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Project Salute Planned for Nashville

The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division is holding its spring meeting in Nashville May 3-5 and will be hosting a Project Salute Clinic on Friday, May 4, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The program, which is the group's primary public service initiative for the year, educates American veterans on the benefits available to them and helps them obtain those benefits. The program is being led this year by Tennessee's own young lawyer Matt Potempa.

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House Subcommittee Approves $328M for LSC

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved $328 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2013. Earlier this week, the subcommittee’s counterpart in the Senate approved $402 million for the agency. Read more from the LSC

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CLC Celebrates 20 Years

Memphis's Community Legal Center celebrates a birthday this year -- 20 years of providing legal services to the poor. “We’re a small organization -- an independent legal service,” Executive Director Meg Jones says. The center has three part-time staff attorneys, one with a general focus, one who does family law and one who is an immigration attorney. There are also about 200 attorneys who help by taking cases on a pro bono basis. And the center has a translator, in addition to several volunteers. Read this profile in the Daily News Journal

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'Jog and Jam' Saturday to Benefit Legal Aid

The Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association will sponsor the first "Jog and Jam for Justice" to benefit the Legal Aid Society in Cookeville. The 5K run/walk will start at 7:30 a.m., this Saturday (April 7), at Tucker Stadium on the Tennessee Tech campus. The race will be followed that evening with a concert with local bands from 6 to 10 p.m. at CHAR restaurant. Registration is $25 in advance or $30 at the door and includes a race t-shirt and two drink tickets for the evening event. Those who want to attend only the concert may buy tickets for $10 at the door. Download a press release about the event or a registration form. Learn more on the group's Facebook page or contact Rachel Moses at rmoses@las.org with any questions.

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Lewis is Chair of ATJ Commission, New Members Named

Memphis lawyer George T. “Buck" Lewis was appointed chair of the Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission on Friday. Board member Douglas Blaze was reappointed, with his term expiring in 2015. New members Anthony Alan Seaton of Johnson City, David R. Esquivel of Nashville, and Marcia Eason of Chattanooga were appointed for three-year terms. The terms of Margaret L. Behm, Kathryn Reed Edge and Gregory Ramos expired March 31. All but Blaze did not wish to be reappointed. Commissioner Maura Abeln Smith, whose term expires in 2014, and Commissioner Frank Anthony Thomas, whose term expires next year, resigned. Sharon Rose Beth Ryan of Memphis will serve the remainder of Smith’s term, and J. Houston Gordon of Covington will serve out Thomas’s term. Download the court's order

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ABA President Responds to Proposal Eliminating LSC

The U.S. House of Representatives Republican Study Committee recently released a budget proposal calling for elimination of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The group's proposal has been introduced in the House as H.Con.Res. 113. Responding to the plan, American Bar Association President Bill Robinson said the proposal is "remarkably shortsighted" and “ignores the overwhelming needs of struggling families for free legal advice.” Rather than eliminating the LSC, Robinson called on Congress to increase its investment in access to justice by appropriating $402 million for the agency next year. 
Read Robinson's full statement

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KBA Hosts Community Law School

On Saturday, March 31, the Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its spring Community Law School from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pike. The morning program (9 to 11 a.m.) will focus on wills and estate planning and will be presented by Tom Ramsey with Ramsey, Elmore, Stone & Caffey. The second part of the program (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) will feature Mark Brown with Menefee & Brown discussing a range of issues, including identity theft, dealing with creditors, adjustable rate mortgages and structuring a payment plan with the IRS. The KBA has been holding these programs for 17 years and estimates more than 5,000 individuals have benefited from the training. Register online or by calling the KBA at (865) 522-6522.

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TBA Recognizes Corporate Pro Bono Work

Baker, Donelson and Community Health Systems receive awards for commitment to free legal services for the poor

NASHVILLE, March 28, 2012 -- Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and Community Health Systems were recognized for their commitment to providing free legal services to the poor at the 6th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala Saturday evening in Nashville. The event featured remarks by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark and Herbert Slatery, legal counsel to Governor Bill Haslam.

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Free Legal Hotline, Disaster Resources Now Available

News from the Access to Justice Committee
A toll-free legal assistance line is now available for victims of recent storms and flooding in 10 counties that have been designated as federal disaster areas.

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TBA Recognizes Corporate Pro Bono Work at Annual Gala

News from the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC and Community Health Systems were recognized for their commitment to providing free legal services to the poor at the 6th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala March 24 in Nashville. The event featured remarks by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark and Herbert Slatery, legal counsel to Governor Bill Haslam.

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Law Students Learn About Service First-Hand at 'Alternative Spring Break'

Sixty-two students from eight law schools spent their week off digging into real-world issues at Alternative Spring Break, hosted during March by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Students chose from service tracks like assisting with special-case immigration, helping senior citizens write wills and health directives, or drafting public-interest legislation involving the mentally ill, money lending or human trafficking. The Commercial Appeal features the project

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Lawyers Honored for Pro Bono Service

Community Health Systems and Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC were recognized for their commitment to providing free legal services to the poor at the 6th Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Gala Saturday, March 24, in Nashville. CHS received the Corporate Legal Department Award for its dedicated staffing of a monthly legal advice clinic in Franklin. Baker Donelson received the Law Firm Award for its work in helping create OnlineTNJustice.org, a website that allows lawyers to provide brief advice and counsel via the internet. The event featured remarks by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Connie Clark and Legal Counsel to the Governor Herbert Slatery. The Pro Bono Initiative is a partnership between the Tennessee Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel, which encourages and supports pro bono activities by lawyers serving as in-house and corporate counsel in the state.

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Disaster Declaration Approved for 10 Counties

President Barack Obama has approved a federal disaster declaration for 10 counties in Tennessee, stemming from severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in the state from Feb. 29 to March 2. Individuals in Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton, and Polk counties may apply for individual assistance by calling 800-621-FEMA. The TBA, its Young Lawyers Division and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) will operate a toll-free disaster legal assistance hotline for those in affected areas. Details about how to access the hotline or volunteer to handle cases that come in over the hotline will be announced next week. Learn more from FEMA

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Court Seeks Comment on General Sessions Court Forms

The Supreme Court is seeking comments on six plain language versions of forms frequently used in general sessions court. The six proposed forms, prepared and submitted by the Tennessee Access to Justice Commission are:
(1) Protected Income and Assets (Affidavit of Claim Exemptions);
(2) Request to Make Payments (Motion and Affidavit for Installment Payments);
(3) Request Not to Pay Fees for Appeal (Pauper's Oath in Lieu of Appeal Bond);
(4) Request to Postpone Filing Fees and Order (Uniform Civil Affidavit of Indigency);
(5) Request to Protect Income and Assets (Motion to Quash Garnishment/Execution and Claim Exemption Rights); and
(6) Sworn Denial (Sworn Denial on Account).

See the forms and find a comment form on the Administrative Office of the Courts website. The deadline for comment is June 11.

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