News

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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TBA Honors 2 Memphis Companies for Providing Free Legal Services

Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, Medtronic to receive awards Saturday in Nashville

NASHVILLE, March 4, 2015 — 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.

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New Legal Clinic Launches Saturday in Nashville

The inaugural North Nashville Legal Clinic will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, 819 33rd Ave. North, Nashville 37209. Rev. Enoch Fuzz and organizing attorney Rachel Thomas of Riley, Warnock & Jacobson are working with the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance and the Legal Aid Society to host this clinic in an underserved area of Nashville. To volunteer or for more information contact Lucinda Smith.

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Legal Aid Attorney to Chair Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence

DarKenya Waller of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has been elected chair of the board of directors for the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Waller has been a visible advocate for domestic violence victims in the community through her work at the Legal Aid Society since moving to Nashville in 2008. As board chair, Waller will further execute the NCADV’s three-fold mission of raising awareness, strengthening services and addressing systemic problems with a cohesive voice.

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Lipscomb Legal Clinic Tuesday

Lipscomb University will host a legal advice clinic on Tuesday at St. James Missionary Baptist Church from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. To volunteer, contact Academic Director Randy Spivey at (615) 966-2503.

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Apply By March 13 for Knoxville Bar Foundation Grants

The Knoxville Bar Foundation is accepting applications through March 13 for its 2015 grant program. Organizations should apply if they are engaged in activities that advance the administration of justice, enhance the public’s understanding of the legal system or serve the legal profession. Applications must be postmarked or hand delivered no later than 5 p.m. March 13. For more information contact foundation chair J. Michael Haynes, (865) 292-2307.

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Knoxville Bar Offers Community Law School March 6 and 7

The Knoxville Bar Association will hold Community Law Schools on March 6 and 7. The public education programs will offer free seminars on topics that include debt, mortgage foreclosures, wills and advance directives. The sessions will be held March 6 at the O’Connor Senior Center, 611 Winona St., and March 7 at Fellowship Church, 8000 Middlebrook Pk. Register or learn more from the Knoxville Bar Association, (865) 522-6522.

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Public Defender Funding Could Take Hit Under Proposal

A law that ensures budget increases for prosecutors include a corresponding increase for public defenders would go away under legislation introduced last week by state Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville. House Bill 241 would delete TCA 16-5-518 in its entirety. The law, which has been on the books since the early 1990s, governs increases in local funding, not state budgets. Go to TBAImpact to weigh in.

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Study: Court Fees Also Punish Families

A new report on the growth of court fines and fees that are charged to often-impoverished offenders finds that impoverished people who go through the criminal justice system almost always get cash from family and friends to help pay their court-ordered fines, even though those family and friends are often poor, too. Titled "When All Else Fails, Fining the Family," the study notes "the incarcerated individual's friends and family ... become, in effect, a parallel welfare state." NPR has the story.

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Legal Aid Adds Consumer, Housing Attorney

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands named Zachary Oswald as attorney for its consumer and housing section. Oswald has worked for Legal Aid  since July 2014 as a legal fellow through the University of Miami Legal Corps Program, specializing in family law and consumer law, the TNLedger reports.

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Legal Aid Director Selected for Medical-Legal Fellowship

Gary Housepian, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, is among 16 civil legal aid leaders selected for the second annual Where Health Meets Justice Fellowship. Hosted by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at the George Washington University and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, senior level staff from civil legal aid agencies in 13 states and the District of Columbia met recently in Washington, D.C., to kick off the 10-month program. Housepian is a member of the TBA's Access to Justice Committee and is currently serving on the TBA's Medical-Legal Partnership Working Group, which is working to support and promote these unique collaborations in Tennessee.

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Lawmakers Vote Down 'Insure Tennessee'

Gov. Bill Haslam's "Insure Tennessee" plan was effectively killed today after the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare voted 4-7 to defeat the proposal. Haslam spent nearly two years negotiating with federal officials to find an alternative for expanding Medicaid in the state. The plan would have used federal funds to expand coverage to about 280,000 additional Tennesseans and cover 100 percent of the program's cost for two years, after which federal support drops down to 90 percent.

Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, made a final, personal plea to committee members, telling them that they should at least vote to let the full Senate get a chance to weigh in. “I did put my heart into it because I felt that strongly that it’s the right thing to do," Overbey told WPLN following the vote. Asked if he would try to push his plan during the regular session of the legislature, Haslam said that seemed "a little pointless." He also said it was unlikely that the federal government would agree to some of the changes legislators requested, though he said he was willing to try. With no prospects of passing the plan, both the House and Senate formally ended their respective special sessions this evening. The Nashville Business Journal has more.

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ABA Midyear Meeting Opens in Houston

Immigration, access to justice for persons of modest means and money’s influence on elections are just some of the issues that will be tackled by attendees in hearings and panel programs during the 2015 ABA Midyear Meeting. The meeting runs through Monday when the 560-member House of Delegates, which sets policy for the ABA, convenes. The Tennessee Bar Association with support from Tennessee law schools will host a reception in Houston Saturday for former TBA president Danny Van Horn. View the invitiation here

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Nonprofit's Role Unclear with New Chattanooga Family Justice Center

With the opening of the new Chattanooga Family Justice Center later this year, the role of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults is no longer clear, WDEF reports. Established 137 years ago, the Partnership is a non-profit group that deals with family violence, elder abuse and human trafficking. It already offers most of the same crisis one-stop services at its downtown location that the new Family Justice Center will offer. The city's goal with the new facility is to also offer those in crisis one-stop service, but the question arises: what role will Partnership will play?

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TBA Reiterates Opposition to Mandatory Pro Bono Service

The TBA today emphasized its strong opposition to mandatory pro bono service for lawyers in a comment about reporting of pro bono work done by lawyers. The comment was filed in response to a petition first reported in TBA Today on Nov. 10. In its filing, the TBA recommends the court require lawyers to respond with an estimate of the number of hours spent each year on pro bono services and include a provision allowing lawyers to indicate that they choose not to report. A voluntary donation to support access to justice work on the annual BPR statement also won support from the TBA. Read a copy of the comment.

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