News

Texas Supreme Court Issues Order Allowing Pro Bono by Out of State Attorneys

The Texas Supreme Court today issued an amended emergency order that permits out-of-state lawyers to practice Texas law temporarily. The order opens up opportunities for volunteer attorneys from across the country to provide pro bono support in Texas or remotely, by working with a “legal aid or pro bono program or a bar association that provides services to victims of Hurricane Harvey." The Tennessee Bar Association is working to support pro bono legal services needed in Texas in the wake of this disaster. One such remote opportunity is for Tennessee lawyers to volunteer with Texas Free Legal Answers to respond to pro bono client questions via email. Other opportunities are available through the State Bar of Texas

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Bridgesmith, Moon Honored at Equal Justice University

More than 275 lawyers, law students and advocates today kicked off the 2017 Equal Justice University (EJU) in Murfreesboro. This is the conference’s 40th anniversary and boasts the event's highest attendance ever. EJU is the annual conference for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community and provides a unique opportunity for continuing education as well as networking through task force meetings and social functions. Highlights of today's program included the presentation of the Janice M. Holder Award to Larry Bridgesmith and Cat Moon for their innovative work in connecting technology solutions with challenges faced by the access to justice community.

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Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund Seeks Support

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has established the Hurricane Harvey Legal Aid Fund to support local legal aid organizations that will assist flood survivors “regain their homes, their financial stability and their lives.” TAJF is seeking contributions and says that every dollar donated will go directly to legal aid programs. After a disaster, Legal Aid helps put lives back together by providing life changing support, including assistance with FEMA benefits, insurance claims, replacing documents, consumer protection matters, foreclosure and landlord/tenant issues. 

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7th Annual Seersucker Flash Mob Planned for Memphis

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis will play host to the 7th annual Seersucker Flash Mob on Friday at noon. The event will serve as a fundraiser for Memphis Area Legal Services and A Step Ahead Foundation. Participants who don’t want to miss the “fashion event of the summer” should wear their best puckered suit, dress or casual wear in the lobby of the hotel.
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Tennessee Lawyers Preparing to Provide Legal Aid in Hurricane Ravaged Texas

The Tennessee Bar Association is working to support pro bono legal services needed in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. One of the TBA's first priorities is to connect Tennessee attorneys already admitted to practice in Texas with existing pro bono programs. Specifically, the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association and Texas Free Legal Answers all have more information and pro bono opportunities. Additional pro bono opportunities for attorneys licensed outside of Texas are anticipated in the coming days and weeks. More information on volunteer opportunities for legal professionals not based in Texas is available on the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services website.

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Lewis Honored by Virginia Bar as Pro Bono Hero

The Virginia State Bar recently named Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. "Buck" Lewis as one of its Pro Bono Heroes for inspiring lawyers to pro bono service and helping the bar launch an online pro bono program. The award was made on the first anniversary of the bar’s Virginia.freelegalanswers.org, a platform modeled after Tennessee’s OnlineTnJustice.org (now rebranded as tn.freelegalanswers.org). So far, the Virginia site has involved more than 200 attorneys and answered more than 450 questions. More than 40 states have now launched online pro bono platforms based on the Tennessee model developed jointly by the TBA, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Baker Donelson law firm.

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Tomorrow Last Day to Register for Equal Justice University

Tomorrow is the last day to register for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ annual Equal Justice University. Guest speakers this year include new TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson and TBA President Lucian Pera. Also scheduled to speak are Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins and Nicole Austin-Hillery, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Washington, D.C. office. This year’s EJU will take place in Murfreesboro on Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.

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ABA House Supports Ban on Mandatory Minimums

The American Bar Association House of Delegates this week approved a resolution backing a ban on mandatory minimum sentences, the ABA Journal reports. The resolution opposes mandatory minimums in any criminal case and calls on Congress and state legislatures to repeal laws requiring them. Kevin Curtin of the Massachusetts Bar Association told the House that mandatory minimums have produced troubling race-based inequities.
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Memphis Community Legal Center to Host Fashion Fundraiser

The Community Legal Center of Memphis will host a fashion-themed fundraiser next month called STRUT! 2017. The Sept. 21 event will feature a fashion show, wine pull, silent auction, giving wall and more. It will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz of Memphis dealership. Tickets are available here.
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Legal, Faith Groups Partnering to Host Southeast Tennessee Pro Bono Clinics

A partnership between Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance, the Christian Legal Society and the Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative will host two upcoming legal aid clinics, with more events coming down the pipeline. The Chattanoogan reports that the first clinic is scheduled for Aug. 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the South Soddy Daisy Baptist Church, 11055 Dayton Pike in Soddy Daisy. The second will take place at the Samaritan Center on Lee Highway in Ooltewah on Sept. 12 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. To volunteer or for more information, please contact Paige Evatt, pro bono director at LAET.
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TBA Honors Contributions of Lewis, Ramsaur at N.Y. Events

The Tennessee Bar Association honored two Tennessee lawyers with receptions this weekend at the ABA Annual Meeting in New York. Tennessee lawyers and bar leaders from across the country came together Friday to recognize the contributions of TBA Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur, while on Saturday Memphis attorney and former TBA President Buck Lewis was honored for his many contributions to the profession, including his long commitment to access to justice and his leadership in development of online pro bono legal services. That effort was launched in Tennessee with the assistance of Baker Donelson and now has been replicated in 42 states across the country. The University of Tennessee College of Law, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Belmont University College of Law and Vanderbilt University Law School joined with the TBA in hosting the event.

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ABA Files Amicus Brief Challenging Cash Bail System

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief this week calling the bail system of a Texas county unconstitutional, just before the ABA’s House of Delegates will consider a resolution opposing the use of money bail entirely, the ABA Journal reports. The brief was filed yesterday in O’Donnell v. Harris County, Texas, a case pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs argue that the county’s bail schedule is unconstitutional because it effectively conditions freedom on the defendant’s ability to pay. In the brief, the ABA asks the 5th Circuit to affirm the ruling of a federal judge in Texas, which sided with the plaintiffs and found that the county had been using high bail amounts as “preventative detention.”
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NALS to Host Auction Fundraiser for Tennessee Justice Center

The Association for Legal Professionals, Nashville Chapter (NALS) will host its 5th Annual NALS After Hours Silent Auction event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP,  511 Union Street, Suite 2600. This event is free and open to the public. All of the proceeds generated at the auction will be donated to the Tennessee Justice Center. Those who would like to donate an item for the auction should mail it to Tina Boone, c/o Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, 511 Union Street, Suite 2700, Nashville, 37219. For more information or to volunteer, contact NALS or visit www.nalsnashville.com.

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LAET to Host Garden Party Fundraiser in Maryville

Legal Aid of East Tennessee will host a garden party fundraiser on Sept. 28 in Maryville. The event is called “Fall in the Garden,” and will be held at Out of Eden Garden Center, 2928 Highway 411 S, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and are available at LAET’s website.
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Volunteer Lawyers Help About 250 with Expungements

About 250 people filled the Bloomfield Baptist Church on Saturday morning for a free clinic aimed at expunging criminal records that don't involve convictions. The clinic was the combined effort of the Memphis Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association and the Ben F. Jones chapter of the National Bar Association. Eighteen lawyers led by Memphis attorney Amber Floyd were on hand to review cases to determine eligibility for expungement and to help with the paperwork, the Commercial Appeal reports.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Maintains LSC Funding

The Senate Committee on Appropriations Thursday approved the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which includes $385 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation. The Committee voted 30-1 to pass the budget proposal, which maintained LSC funding at FY 2017 levels. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut LSC funding by 24 percent, while the Trump administration’s budget would slash LSC funding entirely. Lawyers and legal groups across the country, including TBA, are speaking out against the devastating impact of proposed funding cuts. Legal Aid Defender has more information.

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LSC Budget Proposal Heads to Senate Appropriations

Funding for the Legal Services Corporation goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow after a subcommittee on Tuesday approved $385 million in spending as part of a proposed FY 2018 budget. The $385 million budget would maintain FY 2017 funding levels. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut LSC funding by 24 percent, while the Trump administration’s budget would slash LSC funding entirely. Lawyers and legal groups across the country, including TBA, are speaking out against the devastating impact of the proposed funding cuts. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander serves on the Appropriations Committee and can be reached at (202) 224-4944. Legal Aid Defender has more information.

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TALS Announces Access to Justice Award Winners

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) today announced the winners of its 2017 Access to Justice Awards. Caitlin “Cat” Moon and Larry Bridgesmith of Legal Alignment are recipients of the Janice M. Holder Award in recognition of their work addressing the intersection of legal needs and technical solutions in innovative ways, including collaborative work with the TBA. Other award winners include Carol Gish and Ashley Holliday from West Tennessee Legal Services, recipients of the B. Riney Green Award, and New Advocate of the Year honoree Christina Magráns-Tillery of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. The honorees will be celebrated during TALS’ Equal Justice University Conference Aug. 30 in Murfreesboro. 

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Senate Committee to Consider LSC Funding Cuts

A U.S. Senate subcommittee will consider proposed cuts to funding for the Legal Services Corporation when it meets tomorrow. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut LSC funding by 24 percent. The Trump administration’s budget slashes LSC funding entirely, while the House’s proposal cuts $85 million.

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TBA President, ED Set to Speak at Equal Justice University

Guest speakers for the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services’ (TALS) annual Equal Justice University have been announced and include new TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson and TBA President Lucian Pera. Also scheduled to speak are Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins and Nicole Austin-Hillery, director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Washington, D.C. office. This year’s EJU will take place in Murfreesboro on Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. Find out more and register here.
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Community Legal Center Hosts Benefit Concert in Memphis

The Community Legal Center in Memphis will host a fundraiser benefit concert on Aug. 12. The event, called “Jam for Justice,” will take place at Loflin Yard at 7 p.m. and feature acts such as John Paul Keith, The Low Country Nationals, The Outcry and more. Tickets are $20 and available for purchase here.
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New Senior Law Website Launched

West Tennessee Legal Services has launched a website, TnSeniorLaw.org, to provide legal information and resources to Tennessee senior citizens. The site includes nearly 60 printable factsheets and informative videos on legal issues relevant to seniors, including conservatorships, long-term care and Medicaid. The project was made possible by a Serving Tennessee Seniors grant and adapted some topics from the TBA's Senior Law Handbook. 

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2nd Saturday Legal Aid Clinic Celebrates 10 Years

Memphis’s 2nd Saturday Legal Aid Clinic is celebrating 10 years of serving the community with a ceremony tomorrow, The Commercial Appeal reports. The clinic opens every second Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Since the clinic began in November 2007, about 10,000 people have been served. The celebration will take place at the library at 1 p.m. Justice Holly M. Kirby of the Tennessee Supreme Court and retired Justice Janice M.Holder are slated to speak, and the governor is expected to attend.
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Free Legal Clinic in Chattanooga Hosted by LAET, Faith-based Partnership

A free legal advice clinic in Chattanooga hosted by Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance, Christian Legal Society and Chattanooga Gospel Justice Initiative will be held at White Oak United Methodist Church on Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The church is located at 2232 Lyndon Avenue. The Chattanooga House of Prayer will also be available at the event to offer prayer support and encouragement for participants. Anyone who would like more information about this event or the partnership should contact Paige Evatt, Pro Bono Director at Legal Aid of East Tennessee, (423) 402-4758.
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LAET to Host Debt Relief Clinic for Pre-Screened Individuals

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), in partnership with the Knoxville Bar Association (KBA), will host a Debt Relief Legal Advice Clinic on July 29 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The clinic will be held at Powell United Methodist Church, 323 W. Emory Road in Powell. This is not a walk-in clinic — clients must be pre-screened in order to attend. Attorneys interested in volunteering for this clinic should contact Kathryn Ellis, LAET Pro Bono Project Director, (865) 251-4950.

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