News

Federal Disaster Declared, Legal Assistance Ramps Up

President Barack Obama today declared that a major disaster exists in Tennessee and approved federal aid to help areas affected by severe winter storms and flooding in February, Knoxnews reports. The declaration covers 35 counties, mostly in East and Middle Tennessee. The TBA has a broad range of resources available to help lawyers willing to assist storm victims. In the next few days, a toll-free hotline will be set up for those in need of legal assistance. Through a partnership with Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) and local legal aid organizations, the TBA is recruiting lawyers to handle hotline calls and volunteer at walk-in clinics, as well as provide assistance to colleagues in affected areas. Learn more here or sign up to help.

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Court Maintains Voluntary Pro Bono Reporting

The Tennessee Supreme Court adopted an order today establishing a new mechanism to fund access to justice programs, but declined to implement a requirement that attorneys make an annual report of pro bono activity. Today’s order is consistent with recommendations made by the TBA in a comment submitted to the court in February. The comment came in response to a November 2014 petition from the court’s Access to Justice Commission, which had proposed required reporting of pro bono hours. Read more about the order.

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Legal Aid Seeking Lawyer for Johnson City

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) is seeking a full time staff attorney for its Johnson City office. The attorney would handle general civil litigation and public benefits matters. Candidates must be currently licensed or eligible for licensure in Tennessee. Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, three references and writing sample to: Managing Attorney, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, 311 W. Walnut St., Johnson City, TN 37604 or to dyeomans@laet.org.

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Public Defender Seeks Judge’s Recusal

Dickson City Judge Reese Holley, who already is being investigated for questionable judicial practices involving indigent defendants, is being asked to recuse himself from hundreds of cases, WKRN News 2 reports. Jake Lockert, the public defender for the 23rd Judicial District, filed a motion Thursday asking Holley to recuse himself from hundreds of cases represented by the public defender’s office. “I’m asking him to recognize there’s an appearance of bias on his part,” Lockert said.

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Rutherford Veterans' Court to Open Soon

A court tailored to serving veterans who run into trouble with the law could be available in the next few months, Rutherford County officials report. In February, commissioners endorsed the pilot launch of the court, which would begin by serving those participating in the county’s Drug Court and DUI Court. Courts coordinator Trey King and General Sessions Court Judge Ben Hall MacFarlin will lead the effort, the Daily News Journal reports.

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Race Judicata Benefiting MALS March 28

The Race Judicata 5K benefiting Memphis Area Legal Services will be held Saturday at Mississippi River Park in Memphis. Check-in starts at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Contact Preston Battle for more information.

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Legal Aid Seeking Staff Attorney

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is seeking a full-time staff attorney for the Knoxville office to handle general civil litigation and related matters. Applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, three references and a writing sample to 502 S. Gay St., Suite 404 in Knoxville. View the announcement

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Study: Legal Aid Provides $188 Million Boost in Tennessee

Legal aid providers generated a $188.6 million boost to the Tennessee economy from 2013 cases alone, a study released today says. Civil legal assistance programs in Tennessee work with low-income and vulnerable populations, but the study demonstrated that investing in these programs provides benefits to more than just the direct client population, with every dollar invested in legal aid producing over $11 in financial benefits, extending to businesses, local governments and individuals across all social classes.

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Access to Justice Boosts Tennessee Economy

State's Legal Assistance Organizations Generate Over $188 Million in Economic Impact

The Tennessee Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee and the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative released the results of a report on the study of the economic impact of the work of civil legal assistance providers across the state. The study, Economic Impact of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Tennessee found that $188.6 million in positive financial impact was generated from cases handled in 2013 alone.

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Legal Aid Kicks Off 2015 Campaign for Equal Justice

Legal Aid Kicks off 2015 Campaign for Equal Justice

Current and former attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands gather following the 2015 Campaign for Equal Justice Luncheon in Nashville. 

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Legal Aid Kicks Off 2015 Campaign for Equal Justice

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands today launched its 2015 Campaign for Equal Justice at a luncheon in Nashville. The campaign has already raised over $442,000 towards its goal of $800,000, Campaign Chair Margaret Behm of Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella PC announced. The luncheon included a panel moderated by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee and featuring former LAS executive directors Judge Walter Kurtz and Ashley Wiltshire, who shared stories about the formation, early challenges and memorable successes of the organization.

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Memphis Law Hosts Health Policy Symposium

The University of Memphis School of Law and the Institute for Health Law & Policy will hold a symposium Friday on “Building Blocks for a Healthier Community.” The event will feature remarks from Sharon Z. Roerty with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; lawyer Marice Ashe, founder of ChangeLab Solutions; and Elizabeth Tobin-Taylor, an attorney and assistant professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown University School of Public Health. The event is free and open to the public.

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Legal Aid Offers Free Brochure on Navigating Tax Penalty Exemptions

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has published a new legal self-help brochure to guide Tennesseans through new health care tax penalty exemptions. The brochure is free and accessible through Legal Aid Society’s website. View the press release for more information.

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UT Law Students Prepare Alternative Spring Break Trips

Fifty-one students from the University of Tennessee College of Law will work on 12 volunteer projects during this year’s spring break, providing pro bono legal services to the community in Knoxville and other nearby cities. Through the UT Pro Bono program, students apply skills learned in the classroom to serve clients whose needs would not otherwise be met. TN Today has the story.

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LSC Sends FY 2016 Budget to Congress

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has asked Congress for $486.9 million for Fiscal Year 2016, approximately the same level of funding requested for the past two years, the agency reports. In addition to $451.3 million for basic field grants that fund the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans, the request also includes $5 million for the Technology Initiative Grants program, $5 million for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund, $1 million for student loan repayment assistance to legal aid lawyers, $19.5 million for management and grants oversight and $5.1 million for the Office of the Inspector General. Congress appropriated $375 million for LSC last year. At the height of its funding, the agency received $420 million.

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Pro Bono Gala Features Awards, Inspirational Remarks

Attorneys from the Memphis office of Wyatt Tarrant & Combs and medical technology company Medtronic were honored this past Saturday during the Ninth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative (CCPBI) Gala in Nashville. Judge Bernice Donald from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit gave an inspiring keynote address at the program, which also featured comments from Chief Justice Sharon Lee, CCPBI Co-Chairs Andy Branham and Jim Barry and TBA President Jonathan Steen. Over the past nine years, CCPBI has raised nearly $500,000 to support pro bono activities across the state. See photos from the event, read more about the award recipients or learn more about the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative.

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Shelby County Creates Court Interpreter Program

Shelby County will soon remove a major barrier to justice for Spanish speakers. A state grant covering 90 percent of the salaries for two full-time court interpreters will mean better service, the Commercial Appeal reports. “People get arrested over the weekend ... then the next thing you know it’s 8:45 Monday morning, the courts are in session, and we don’t have an interpreter on site,” said Criminal Court Clerk Richard DeSaussure III, whose office will oversee the new interpreters.

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Learn More About Medical-Legal Partnerships

Learn more about medical-legal partnerships at a live CLE program scheduled for March 30 in Nashville or by watching a one-hour archived webcast on the topic. Both programs are sponsored by TBA’s Access to Justice Committee and are being offered at no charge to Tennessee lawyers. The live program runs from noon to 4 p.m. and offers 3.5 hours of general credit. The video course offers one hour of general credit and can be taken at any time. The January issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal also explored how these partnerships work.

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Pro Bono Event Honors Corporate Council Contributions

Corporate Council Pro Bono Awards

Attorneys from the Memphis office of law firm Wyatt Tarrant & Combs receive their pro bono award at the Gala.
Photos by Barry Kolar

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Law Students Make Most of Alternative Spring Break

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and its Public Action Law Society launched the sixth annual Alternative Spring Break today. This year’s program will examine the legacies of human and civil rights, the Memphis Business News reports. Students from a number of Tennessee and out-of-state law schools will gather for a week of lectures and helping the Memphis community through pro bono work. Nashville lawyer Abby Rubenfeld and Memphis lawyer Maureen Holland will give the program's keynote address. Both will argue the case for same-sex marriage in Tennessee before the U.S. Supreme Court next month.

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Join TJC for Predators Game Fundraiser March 24

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is hosting the Nashville Predators' hockey game on March 24. That means that 20 percent of ticket sales from the game will be donated to the TJC if purchased through this link. The Preds will take on the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m. that night.

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Tapas for Justice Fundraiser April 14

The annual “Tapas for Justice” fundraising event to benefit Justice for Our Neighbors will take place April 14, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the law offices of Baker Donelson in Nashville. The suggested contribution of $50 to Justice for Our Neighbors will help keep Nashville immigrant families together and strengthen the cultural and economic life of our city. Contact wade@tnjfon.org for more information.

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TBA Names 2015 Corporate Pro Bono Award Winners

The Memphis office of law firm Wyatt Tarrant & Combs and global medical technology giant Medtronic will be recognized for their commitment to providing free legal services to Tennesseans at the Ninth Annual Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Initiative Gala this Saturday in Nashville. This year’s event will feature remarks by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Lee, Corporate Counsel Bono Initiative Co-Chairs Andy Branham and Jim Barry, and TBA President Jonathan Steen. Judge Bernice Donald with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will give the keynote address. Individual tickets to the gala are still available. Contact TBA Access to Justice Coordinator Liz Todaro to reserve your spot.

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