News

‘TBA Mashup’ Coming in 2017

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program. During the day, you'll be able to learn about the current state of health insurance for small firms, how to get involved in pro bono activities, how to use the Fastcase TopForm bankruptcy filing software and more. At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need.

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Court Amends Pro Se Divorce Forms

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued an order revising pro se forms to be used in uncontested divorce cases with minor children. The court reports that its Access to Justice Commission requested the change to make it clear that spouses with orders of protection may use the forms. The documents released today replace the forms published by the court in October. The forms can be used beginning Jan. 1.

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Attorneys to be Honored with Girls Inc. Awards

A pair of Chattanooga attorneys are among nine women to be honored at the Girls Inc. 13th annual awards luncheon set for April 19, the Hamilton County Herald reports. Paige Evatt, pro bono director and staff attorney at Legal Aid of East Tennessee, and Nicole Osborne, government affairs counsel at Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, will receive the group’s UnBought & UnBossed Award, which honors women who make an impact on the lives of girls and other women.

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Shelby County Launches New Prosecution Program

The Shelby County District Attorney announced a new community protection plan yesterday, News 5 reports. Under the plan, all cases from a designated area will be handled by the same prosecutor and judge in an attempt to build relationships between the courts and the community and expedite the consideration of cases. A pilot of the Community Prosecution Program will begin Jan. 3 at the Old Allen precinct in Frayser.

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ABA Files Suit Over Loan Forgiveness Program

The American Bar Association (ABA) filed a lawsuit Tuesday to force the U.S. Department of Education to honor loan forgiveness commitments it made under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The suit was brought on behalf of four plaintiffs who were retroactively denied eligibility for the benefit after being told their jobs qualified or taking positions "pre-approved" by the department. The program, which began in 2007, provides incentives for choosing a public service career by forgiving student loan debt for those who make payments for 10 years while working in public service jobs. The ABA reports that it filed the suit after several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the situation.

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Apply for Nashville Bar Foundation Grant by Jan. 15

The Nashville Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Nashville Bar Association, is accepting grant applications through Jan. 15 from non-profit organizations that support law-related educational or charitable programs. Access application guidelines and the request form.

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Court Honors Memphis Attorneys for Pro Bono Service

The Tennessee Supreme Court honored more than 100 Memphis attorneys last week during the Memphis Bar Association’s annual meeting. Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins was at the meeting to deliver remarks and thank attendees for their pro bono legal service. Justice Holly Kirby also was on hand to announce the names of those being honored. The event was part of the court’s extensive pro bono recognition program, which honors lawyers who provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service during the year.

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Art Exhibit to Benefit Immigrant Legal Services

The #HereToStay: Art of Resilience art show and fundraiser will take place Jan. 13-27 at L. Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin Ave., Suite 104 in Memphis. The show kicks off with a reception on Jan. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available online or at the door the night of the event. According to organizers, the event will feature works by local artists that express their support for the immigrant community. A percentage of all proceeds from artwork sold will be used to support a pro bono coordinator who will recruit and manage volunteer lawyers working for the Community Legal Center’s Immigrant Justice Program, Mid-South Immigration Advocates and the Derechos Immigration Program sponsored by Latino Memphis. For more information contact Jerri Green with the Community Legal Center at 901-543-3395.

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Second Legal Clinic Planned Monday for Wildfire Survivors

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Sevier County Bar Association will hold a second free legal advice clinic for wildfire survivors Monday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Courtyard Gatlinburg, 315 Historic Nature Trail. Those impacted by area fires are eligible to receive legal advice on issues such as housing, employment, debt and insurance. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcome. Attorney volunteers are needed. For more information, contact LAET’s Knoxville Pro Bono Director Kathryn Ellis, 865-637-0484. Learn more about all efforts to serve wildfire survivors.

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Lipscomb Legal Clinic Set for Dec. 20

Lipscomb University will host its final legal clinic of the year next Tuesday at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. North in Nashville. The clinic will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and is still in need of volunteers. This will be an advice-only clinic with no expectation that attorneys take on continuing representation. For more information contact Randy Spivey, academic director for the university’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society at 615-966-2503.

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Volunteers Needed for Veterans’ Legal Clinic Tomorrow

A free legal clinic for veterans will be held Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Memphis Veterans Center, 1407 Union Ave., 11th floor. Volunteers are still needed, especially in the practice areas of criminal defense, family law and employment law. The clinic is co-sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Area Legal Services and takes place the second Tuesday of the month to assist veterans with legal advice. For more information and to volunteer, contact Jake Dickerson, 901-577-8236.

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TBA Names 2017 Public Service Award Recipients

Two Tennessee attorneys and a recent University of Tennessee College of Law graduate will be honored with the TBA’s 2017 Public Service Awards at a ceremony in January. The Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented to Signal Mountain lawyer Susan Gruber for her work with the Chattanooga office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award will go to Richard Taylor, an assistant public defender in the 23rd Judicial District for his efforts on behalf of the district’s drug court. And the Law Student Volunteer of the Year Award will be given to Kirsten Jacobson, who logged more than 900 hours of pro bono work and increased overall student participation in pro bono while in law school. She is now working at Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. The ceremony and luncheon is set for Jan. 14 at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel in Nashville.

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Haslam Asks for Fire Disaster Designation

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today requested a presidential disaster declaration in the wake of the Gatlinburg wildfires, a blaze that left at least 14 people dead, hundreds of buildings destroyed and thousands of acres of forest scorched. Haslam sent the request for Coffee, McMinn, Polk, Sequatchie and Sevier counties , the Tennessean reports. “My goal is to help ensure these counties have what they need to rebuild and recover from these heartbreaking disasters,” Haslam said in a release. Earlier today, Knoxnews reported that teenagers playing with matches likely started the fires. The boys, ages 17 and 15, were charged this week in Sevier County Juvenile Court with aggravated arson. In related news, New Channel 5 reported this afternoon that downtown Gatlinburg has re-opened to the public. Read about the legal community's response to get or give legal help.

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Legal Aid Honors Tri-City, Knoxville Lawyers

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) held its annual Celebrate Pro Bono Dinner this week in Johnson City. The event honored Tri-City lawyers who volunteered for the group’s Pro Bono Project. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins was on hand for the recognitions. Access to Justice Awards were given to Curt Collins, Mike Forrester, Suzanne Queen and Tony Seaton. Outstanding Service Awards went to Art Fowler III, Adam Kneisley, Rachel Mancl, Dave Robbins, Bart Rowlett, Mark Skelton and Aleania Smith. Karen Boyd was recognized with a special Above & Beyond Award for her work with pro se divorce clinics in the Tri Cities. Several weeks ago, LAET recognized Knoxville lawyers Tom Hale and Betsy Beck at a National Philanthropy Day Celebration in Knoxville. The pair were honored for their service to the community and their longstanding support for LAET.

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Legal Clinic Friday for Wildfire Survivors

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Sevier County Bar Association will offer a free legal advice clinic for wildfire survivors this Friday. The clinic will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. at 124 Court Ave. in Sevierville. Please help spread the word about this opportunity. Volunteers are already committed to covering this clinic, but attorneys will be needed to staff other clinics in the weeks to come. For more information contact LAET’s Knoxville Pro Bono Director Kathryn Ellis, 865-637-0484.

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Opinion: Technology Can Narrow the Justice Gap

Lawyer and journalist Robert Ambrogi writes in Above the Law that technology has become a powerful tool for enhancing access to justice. While he cites a number of government studies that show this to be the case, he primarily writes about real-world applications that are being created by legal aid groups across the country. Through special grants from the Legal Services Corporation, local agencies have created a number of online and mobile services to connect lawyers with remote clients, provide free legal resources to at-risk population groups and promote pro bono work. LSC recently announced the latest round of technology grants with $4.2 million going to 27 legal services organizations. Ambrogi looks at several of the projects that received funding.

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Criminal Justice Reform Group Hosts Event

The Tennessee Coalition for Sensible Justice will host “Stopping the Revolving Door: A Conversation on Safety, Savings and Our Criminal Justice System” on Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in West Knoxville. Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, will moderate the discussion, which will focus on problems with the current criminal justice system and strategies for change. Panelists will include Lindsay M. Boyd, director of policy for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, and Thomas H. Castelli, legal director for the ACLU of Tennessee. The event is free and open to the public.

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Public Defender Sought for 24th Judicial District

Twenty-fourth Judicial District Public Defender Guy Wilkinson is retiring on Dec. 31. To fill the vacancy, the state is seeking applicants to serve until the next biennial election in 2018. Applicants must have an active Tennessee law license, have lived in the state for five years and have lived in the district for one year. Interested individuals should submit a resume and cover letter to Counsel to the Governor Dwight Tarwater at State Capitol, 1st Floor, 600 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37243 or by email to dwight.tarwater@tn.gov by 5 p.m. CST on Dec. 30. Read the job announcement. The 24th District serves Decatur, Henry, Carroll, Benton and Hardin counties.

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Legal Aid Names 2016 Volunteer of the Year

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will name Butler Snow attorney James A. Beakes III as its 2016 Volunteer of the Year at the Nashville Bar Association’s Annual Meeting next week. Beakes was selected for the honor based on his work organizing and promoting a weekly virtual clinic that provides legal services to those in rural communities in Williamson, Hickman, Cheatham and Dickson counties. At the firm, Beakes handles general litigation, trucking litigation and appellate advocacy. Read more from the firm.

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Lawyers Respond, More Needed to Help Wildfire Victims

Attorneys from across the state are stepping up to volunteer to assist victims of the wildfire disasters in Gatlinburg and Sevier County. Many are responding to the call for pro bono legal assistance, both for local clinics and remote support. However, it is anticipated that more volunteers will be needed over the coming weeks and months to assist with legal needs resulting from the fires. Attorneys who want to help can access training resources and other materials on the TBA's Disaster Legal Assistance page. Legal clinics and outreach related to losses from the fires are being scheduled and volunteers will be needed. For more information or to volunteer in the area, contact Kathryn Ellis at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Those who are not in the area but still want to help can volunteer to answer online questions at TN Free Legal Answers or respond to calls on the HELP4TN helpline. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form.

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Expungement Clinic Planned for Memphis

Building on the success of expungement clinics in Nashville, Memphis lawyers Amber Floyd and Dean DeCandia are organizing an expungement clinic and resource fair in their city on Dec. 10. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church, 3900 Tchulahoma Rd. Representatives from the General Sessions Criminal Court and clerk’s office will be on hand to facilitate the process. Volunteer attorneys, paralegals and law students are needed to assist clients with paperwork. Those interested in volunteering are invited to a training session on Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the church. For more information contact Floyd, 901-537-1054, or DeCandia, 901-378-0203.

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TBA Activates Disaster Legal Assistance for Wildfires

In response to the wildfire disasters in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, the TBA is partnering with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission to help those affected with their legal needs. Attorneys who want to help can access training resources and other materials on the TBA's Disaster Legal Assistance page. Legal clinics and outreach related to losses from the fires are anticipated and volunteers will be needed. For more information or to volunteer in the area, contact Kathryn Ellis at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Those who are not in the area but still want to help can volunteer to answer online questions at TN Free Legal Answers or respond to calls on the HELP4TN helpline. The TBA's Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Committee has also been activated and will be assisting with volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form. If you know someone in need of legal assistance, please have them call the legal helpline at 844-HELP4TN, or visit help4tn.org.

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Chattanooga Hosts Drug Court Conference

The city of Chattanooga will host the Tennessee Association of Drug Court Professionals conference Dec. 7-9 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. A highlight of this year’s conference will be an art exhibit featuring works by recovering addicts and staff members, according to Kevin Batts, president of the association. The keynote address will be given by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark, a strong supporter of the Drug Court model. The new commissioner of mental health also will speak at the event, Chattanoogan.com reports.

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Group Seeks Immigration Lawyer in Memphis

The Community Legal Center (CLC) in Memphis is seeking a Joint Immigration Pro Bono Coordinator with at least three years of experience as a practicing attorney and at least two years working in the field of immigration. The attorney will work with Memphis-area nonprofit immigration legal service providers (including the CLC, Latino Memphis and Mid-South Immigration Advocates) in recruiting, training, mentoring and supervising volunteer attorneys handling immigration cases in Tennessee, Arkansas and North Mississippi. For additional details and information on applying see the group's JobLink listing.

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AOC Seeks Pro Bono Coordinator

The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts is seeking a pro bono coordinator to work with its Access to Justice Commission. The coordinator’s main job will be to cultivate and monitor new pro bono initiatives, especially in parts of the state where specific segments of the population have legal needs that are not being met. The position is funded by a grant through June 30, 2018. Applicants should have a law degree or be in their final semester of law school and be able to pass a criminal background check. To apply, submit a resume and three professional references in PDF format to human.resources@tncourts.gov by Nov. 28.

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