News

Free Legal Clinic for Residents Affected by Bed Bugs

Chattanooga attorney Emily O'Donnell is offering free advice to residents affected by bed bugs in a low-income housing complex, News Channel 9 reports. People living at Whiteside's Faith Manor said they have been dealing with bed bugs for more than three years, and that management has been little to no help in fixing the problem. Those who need help can call Legal Aid at (423) 756-4013, ext. 1109, before June 8.

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MALS Attorney Awarded Advocate of the Year

Craig P. Barnes of Memphis Area Legal Services has been chosen as the STEP Inc. 2015 Wayne Parker Advocate of the Year. STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) presents the award annually to a person who has “exemplified using information to assist a child or youth with a disability to receive a free appropriate public education.”

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Autocross Competition Benefits Legal Aid

The 4th Annual “SOLO Time at Bristol” autocross competition will be held at the Bristol Motor Speedway June 6 and 7. More than 100 competitors are expected. They will drive a timed precision course on a flat track. Spectators also may pay $10 to ride the course at competition speed with participating drivers. All proceeds benefit Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Learn more about the event.

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Upper Cumberland Justice Center to Open in New Space

The Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center has finally found a place to call home and will open its doors this July, the Cookeville Herald Citizen reports. The center, which provides a centralized location of services to assist victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and elder abuse, had been looking for permanent space as a requirement of a three-year state grant. The center will open July 1 at 269 S. Willow Ave., Suite E, Cookeville, TN 38501. A grand opening ceremony will be held that day at 3 p.m.

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Students Invited to Apply for Scholarship

The University of Tennessee College of Law Immigration Clinic will be an Equal Justice Works (EJW) host site this summer with student interns working on unaccompanied minor cases. Law students working at least 450 hours are eligible for a $1,515 Segal Education Award through EJW’s AmeriCorps JD program. In addition, students who apply by June 1 will be automatically entered to win one of 20 iPad Air or Surface 3 tablets. Students can apply online or contact EJW for more information.

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Legal Services Corp. Funding Cut to be Voted on Tuesday

Appropriations for the Legal Service Corporation for the next fiscal year is contained in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which is set for a vote on the House floor on Tuesday. The committee mark up of the bill cuts LSC funding by 20 percent from the present $375 million to $300 million. An effort to eliminate all federal funding for legal aid and an effort to increase LSC funding beyond the committee level are also expected when the bill is considered. The TBA supports the funding level set in the administration budget proposal at $452 million. Supporters of this vital access to justice program should contact Tennessee members of congress urging a no vote on the zero funding proposal and a yes on any amendment to increase. For more detailed information, visit the ABA webpage on LSC funding. Watch for more in Monday’s issue of TBA Today. 

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Legal Aid to Launch Elder Law Program

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will launch a new Elder Law Program to help senior citizens in Cheatham, Davidson, Robertson and Sumner counties obtain free legal and educational services. The outreach is made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Memorial Foundation. Among other services offered through the program, legal aid staff will conduct seminars to educate seniors and their caretakers about their rights and responsibilities and address common legal issues faced by older Americans.

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Rutherford Veterans’ Court to Open by September

Rutherford County officials say the county’s first Veterans’ Court is on track to be fully operational by September, the Daily News Journal reports. The court, which was approved in February, will serve veterans who already are participating in the Drug Court and DUI Court, officials said. The program also will serve active-duty soldiers who run into trouble with the law. Rutherford joins Montgomery, Davidson and Shelby counties in launching Veterans’ Courts.

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Bone Receives Legal Aid Award

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has awarded its first ever Gallatin Community Award to Charles W. Bone, founder and chairman of Bone McAllester Norton. Members of Legal Aid’s Gallatin office – which serves Macon, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties – selected Bone because he has championed the non-profit law firm in the community and his firm has been a financial and pro bono supporter of the Gallatin office, as well as the Nashville office.

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Lowest Paid Lawyers Report Greatest Happiness

A new study by Florida State University law professor Lawrence S. Krieger found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as a high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost no correlation with happiness and well being. However, the study found that lawyers in public-service jobs, who typically make less money, were most likely to report being happy. The survey of 6,200 lawyers also found that lawyers in public-service jobs drank less alcohol than their higher-income peers, and despite the large gap in affluence, the two groups were equally satisfied with their lives. The New York Times’ wellness blog reports on the study.

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Nominations Sought for 2015 Access to Justice Awards

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is accepting nominations for its 2015 Access to Justice Awards now through June 26. The Janice M. Holder Award recognizes an individual who has advanced the quality of justice statewide by ensuring that the legal system is open and available to all. The B. Riney Green Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership in encouraging collaboration and inter-program cooperation to strengthen access to justice. And the New Advocate of the Year Award recognizes attorneys who have excelled in the first five years of working in public interest law. Nominations should be submitted to Samantha Sanchez. The awards will be presented Sept. 2 in conjunction with the 2015 Equal Justice University, which is hosted by TALS and co-sponsored by the TBA.

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TJC Hosts Free CHOICES Webinar

The Tennessee Justice Center will host a free webinar about changes to the CHOICES program on May 21 at 3:30 p.m. The CHOICES 3 program will be closed for most new enrollment on July 1. Join the TJC to learn what the closing means for consumers, advocates and providers. Contact John Orzechowski for more information.

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MALS Conference Room Named to Honor Kirkland

The family of Lloyd Kirkland Jr., including daughter Magistrate Judge Diane Vescovo, honored him by purchasing the naming rights to Memphis Area Legal Services’ small conference room. The new name of the conference room is now the Kirkland Conference Room. Family and friends of Kirkland enjoyed a brief birthday celebration and an unveiling of the plaque renaming the conference room on April 30.

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National Pro Bono Tool to be Based on OnlineTNJustice

The ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service is implementing a national interactive pro bono website based on Tennessee’s OnlineTNJustice. The decision came at a meeting late last week in Austin. Former TBA President and Baker Donelson lawyer George T. “Buck” Lewis said, “We got this far because of a great team effort and we now need help from Tennessee attorneys with the work of funding the national site and signing up the remaining states.” Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark also praised the move saying, “It is so exciting to see Tennessee ideas ... be embraced coast to coast.” OnlineTNJustice is a joint project of the TBA, the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and Baker Donelson.

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ABA Pro Bono Committee to Take OnlineTNJustice Nationwide

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service has unanimously approved a proposal to begin implementation of a national interactive pro bono web site based on Tennessee’s OnlineTNJustice model.

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Event to Benefit Legal Assistance for the Arts

The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville, in conjunction with the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, will host a fundraiser May 27 for the Tennessee Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts. The event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the W.O. Smith School. It will include food, live music and a silent auction. Contact Kelly Donley to learn more.

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UT Immigration Clinic Raising Funds for Legal Fellow

Karla McKanders, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law and director of the school’s Immigration Clinic, is raising money through “VOLStarter.com” – an online platform designed to raise money exclusively for university projects – to fund an immigration fellow at the clinic. The new fellow would provide legal assistance to children who have escaped violence, abuse and neglect in their home countries, as well as work closely with students on such cases. McKanders hopes to raise $10,000 to pay for travel, supplies and educational material.

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Chattanooga History Tour to Raise Funds for LAET

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is hosting a “Double-Decker Bus Chattanooga Legal History Tour” May 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Former TBA president and history expert Sam Elliott of Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLLC will lead the tour. Tickets are $50. To register or learn more, contact Charlie McDaniel, (423) 756-4013, extension 1113.

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Knoxville Celebrates ADA Anniversary

The disABILITY Resource Center (dRC) and the City of Knoxville are sponsoring a celebration in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on May 14. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Market Square Mall. The Knoxville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service staff will have a table at the event to answer questions from attendees. For more information or to volunteer contact KBA staff member Tracy Chain.

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Opinion: Legal Aid Programs Vital to Communities

In an Daily Herald opinion piece, Gary Housepian looks at a recent study commissioned by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee and the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative showing that $11 of economic impact is generated for every $1 of funding invested in legal aid services in Tennessee. "These numbers prove what those of us who work at Legal Aid Society have always known," the executive director of Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands writes, "that legal assistance and advocacy is an investment in making our communities better."

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Baker Donelson Repeats as ‘Beacon of Justice’ Law Firm

The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) has announced that Memphis-based Baker Donelson once again is among the law firms being recognized for expanding opportunities, reach and quality of legal aid delivery systems. The 14 firms – which devoted more than 700,000 combined hours to pro bono last year – will be recognized at a June 23 dinner in Washington D.C. with the 2015 Beacon of Justice Award. The group also will honor Hewlett-Packard General Counsel John F. Schultz with the Exemplar Award.

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LAET Celebrates 50 Years

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) hosted its 50th Anniversary Celebration Thursday in Knoxville. The event was attended by more than 150 attorneys, members of the judiciary, and other guests, including James J. Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Washington, D.C., and retired California Court of Appeal Justice Earl Johnson Jr., who also helped write the Congressional Act that created the LSC. The core organization was founded as Knoxville Legal Aid Society (KLAS) in 1965, growing out of the University of Tennessee College of Law Pro Bono Clinic.

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Carnival Memphis Salutes the Legal Industry

As part of its 84th anniversary celebration, Carnival Memphis will salute the Mid-South Legal Industry during its annual Business & Industry Salute Luncheon May 5 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Honorees include Lewis Donelson, Judge Julia Gibbons, Mike Cody and Shepherd Tate, as well as eight area law firms. The event will take place at the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Boulevard. Learn more about the award recipients and get ticket information here.

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Book Signing: 'Mass Incarceration, Death Sentences and Racism'

Joseph Ingle will discuss and sign his book, Slouching Toward Tyranny: Mass Incarceration, Death Sentences, and Racism, Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Parnassus Books in Nashville. As a pastor to Death Row inmates across the South, Ingle's book "is part personal experience, part history: the history of systematic destruction of minorities in America, from colonial days to now, by physical slaughter and by legal and judicial means."

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TBA Board Approves Medical-Legal Partnership Resolution

The TBA Board of Governors has adopted a resolution that "encourages lawyers, law firms, legal services agencies, law schools and bar associations to establish, develop and maintain medical-legal partnerships" in collaboration with medical and health care organizations. The resolution, which was recommended by the TBA Access to Justice Committee and the Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group, also won support from the TBA House of Delegates. The full resolution, accompanying report and materials are available on the TBA website.

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