News

Legal Aid Relocates Tullahoma Office

After 35 years in the same location, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands’ Tullahoma office has moved to 281 Industrial Blvd. All phone numbers remain unchanged. Six employees work at the office providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals in Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore and Warren counties. The organization announced the move in a recent newsletter to supporters.

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Inaugural Veterans’ Clinic Coming in September

The Knoxville Bar Association’s inaugural Veterans’ Legal Advice Clinic will take place Sept. 7 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, 1101 Liberty St., Knoxville 37912. The clinic is a joint project of the Knoxville Barristers and their Access to Justice Committee, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knox County Public Defender’s Office, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the local VA office. Lawyers are needed to volunteer to help veterans with a wide variety of issues, including family, landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, criminal defense, consumer protection, contract disputes, child support and personal injury cases. WATE reports on the event.

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Legal Aid Reports $23M Impact on Middle Tennessee

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has tallied its annual impact on the region and found it provided $23.3 million worth of free legal assistance in 2015 – a 2.6 percent increase over 2014. The group also reported that it handled 7,022 cases across its 48-county service area; organized 76 free legal clinics, which served 1,447 attendees; coordinated 733 free legal educational seminars with almost 29,400 attendees; and distributed 64,607 self-help brochures. The agency this year also launched a re-entry program that helps people with criminal records deal with civil legal issues such as fairness in housing, employment and health care. Read more from the agency’s year-end report.

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Reminder: Public Service Award Nominations Due Sept. 9

Nominations for the TBA’s three annual Public Service Awards are due Sept. 9. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization providing indigent legal representation, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. Awards will be presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January 2017.

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Bivins Swearing in to Take Place at EJU Luncheon

Newly elected Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins will take the oath of office during the upcoming Equal Justice University in Murfreesboro. Justice Connie Clark will present the oath to Bivins at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services' Leadership Luncheon, set for noon on Sept. 1. TBA President Jason Long is the featured speaker and Duncan School of Law is the sponsor of the Leadership Lunch. Those not attending the conference but who would like to attend the lunch should register online by Wednesday.

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LAET to Move to Historic Stair Building

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET), Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and the city of Knoxville will sign a lease agreement Monday that will clear the way for the legal aid organization to move to the historic Stair Building on LMU’s Duncan School of Law campus in downtown Knoxville. Under the arrangement, LMU will renovate the building and lease it to LAET for $1 a year. A ceremonial signing will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at the law school. Dean Gary R. Wade, LAET Executive Director Sherri Fox, LMU President B. James Dawson and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero will be on hand to ink the deal.

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Legal Aid Seeking Attorneys in 5 Offices

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands currently has several attorney positions available in its Cookeville, Gallatin, Oak Ridge, Tullahoma and Nashville offices. The agency is also looking for law student interns and attorney volunteers in all of its offices. Those interested in applying should send a cover letter, resume, writing sample and three references to Legal Aid Society, Human Resources Administrator, 575 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Suite 201, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 or by email to HR@las.org.

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Court Seeks Comments on 2 Proposals, Sets Legal Aid Funding Ratios

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued three orders. The first amends Rule 11 Section VI(a)(1), which sets out the amounts that the state’s four legal aid organizations receive from the Civil Legal Representation of Indigents Fund. The order, which will take effect Sept. 1, changes the percentage of funding each organization receives based on the percent of poverty in their service areas. The second order seeks comments by Sept. 19 on a proposal by the Board of Professional Responsibility and Tennessee Bar Foundation to amend Rules 8 and 43 to allow attorneys to deposit trust funds in federally insured credit unions. The third order seeks comments by Nov. 17 on a proposal by theTBA to amend Rule 8 to make a number of changes recommended by the ABA's Commission on Ethics 20/20.

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Legal Aid Gets $15,000 Grant for Food Stamp Advocacy

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has received a $15,000 grant to support the anti-hunger efforts of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. This is the third year the agency has received money from the national nonprofit working to end hunger in the United States and Israel. Funds will be used to advocate for clients receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Russell Overby and Emma Sholl in the Nashville office and Theresa-Vay Smith in the Oak Ridge office will focus on this work.

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ABA Unveils New Tools for ATJ Efforts, Solo Lawyers

The ABA this week announced two new efforts. The first, a new Center for Innovation, is designed to increase access to justice and improve the delivery of legal services through innovative programs and initiatives. The second is a new web-based tool to help solo and small firm lawyers manage their practices. The ABA Blueprint program will launch this fall and offer information on technology, marketing, retirement and insurance services.

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Warren Seely Named ABA Section Director

Tennessee lawyer Linda Warren Seely has been named the new director of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution. She will take office Sept. 1. Seely served as director of pro bono projects for Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) for nine years and later became director of MALS’ Campaign for Equal Justice. She recently left MALS to join a Step Ahead Foundation, working to help women learn about and access birth control. Seely is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association and the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women. She currently serves in the TBA House of Delegates, and on the governing boards of the Association of Women Attorneys Foundation, Madison County CASA and Tennessee Bar Foundation. 

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Registration for EJU Closes Friday

Registration for the 2016 Equal Justice University will close this Friday. Don’t miss your chance to celebrate this year’s pro bono award recipients and hear from Tennessee Bar Association President Jason Long at this annual event sponsored by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the TBA.

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TBA Accepting Nominations for Public Service Awards

The TBA each year recognizes lawyers and law students who have shown exceptional commitment to increasing access to justice for individuals and communities through its Public Service Awards. The awards recognize pro bono service in three categories: work performed by an attorney employed by an organization primarily involved in providing legal representation to the indigent, work performed by a private attorney and work performed by a law student volunteer. The nomination period for 2016 honorees is now open. Nominations may be submitted via the TBA website or by email to Liz Todaro. Nominations are due no later than Sept. 9. Submissions should include a narrative of the individual’s accomplishments, the nominator’s reasons for selecting the individual and a description of how the nominee meets the award criteria. Awards are presented at the Annual Public Service Awards Luncheon in January.

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Seersucker Flash Set for Aug. 31 in Memphis

Make plans now to don your best puckered suit, dress or casual wear and join Memphis-area lawyers for the 2016 Seersucker Flash Mob. The event, announced by the Memphis Bar Association, will take place Aug. 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Ave. It will also raise funds for Memphis Area Legal Services and A Step Ahead Foundation.

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Roen to Head MALS Pro Bono Services

Leah Roen is the new director of pro bono services at Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS). She joins the agency after 26 years in private practice at her own firm and at Thorp, Fones & Frulla, which has since dissolved. She is a University of Memphis School of Law graduate. At MALS, she hopes to increase the number of Memphis attorneys who volunteer at pro bono clinics, especially those who practice domestic and family law, and form partnerships with agencies and churches that could host new legal clinics. The Memphis Daily News has more on her background.

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Indigent Task Force Holds Final Hearing

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force held its final listening session today in Franklin, hearing from more than a dozen members of the private bar and parents of children in the child welfare system. The task force will meet in September to consider all comments and recommendations submitted during the tour and discuss the timing of presenting its own findings.

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Legal Aid Names Community Fundraising Chair

George Anderson, co-founder of the Nashville-based insurance agency Anderson Benson, has been named community chair for the Legal Aid Society’s 2016 fundraising campaign. In this role, Anderson will support the Campaign for Equal Justice by raising money from non-legal donors across Middle Tennessee. “The lack of support in the civil justice system is one of the most overlooked problems society has,” Anderson says. “I want to educate those in the Middle Tennessee area why having an organization that can provide this counsel and advocacy is important to them, their families and our community.”

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Nashville Expungement Clinic Attracts Hundreds

An expungement clinic in Davidson County last week attracted hundreds of people hoping to clear their criminal records, the AOC reports. People began lining up five hours in advance for the Community Court, which also featured shoe giveaways, free haircuts, health vendors and employment leads. All county general sessions judges were on hand as well as Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, Assistant District Attorney Katie Ladefoged and AOC Pro Bono Coordinator Patricia Mills. TBA YLD Diversity Committee Chair Amber Floyd also was in town from Memphis to help coordinate the event. For more information about the clinic, contact General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell, 615-862-8341, or learn more about the expungement process in Tennessee.

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LSC: Technology, Public Education Needed to Close Justice Gap

Legal Services Corporation Chair John G. Levi told attendees at the recent ABA Annual Meeting that technology and public education will be critical to closing the justice gap, and that the agency has partnered with Microsoft Corp. to develop online portals to direct those with legal needs to services. Levi also said the public at large needs to be aware of the country’s justice gap. To that end, the LSC has formed a leadership council with high-profile ambassadors such as baseball player Hank Aaron and author John Grisham to increase awareness.

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‘Plunge to Expunge’ Set for Friday in Memphis

Just City, an organization that provides financial, legal and administrative services to those seeking expungements, will host its first annual Plunge to Expunge dunk tank fundraiser tomorrow from 4-7 p.m. at Memphis Made Brewing Co., 768 South Cooper. This year’s dunk tank target is Just City board member and University of Memphis law professor Daniel Kiel, who teaches constitutional, civil rights and educational law. The group also announced that the brewery will debut its latest beer – Justice Will PrevALE – at the event. Read more from the law school.

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Lipscomb Legal Clinic Set for Aug. 16

Lipscomb University’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society will hold its bi-monthly legal clinic next Tuesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Lawyers are needed to volunteer for this advice-only clinic at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. North in Nashville. For more information contact Randy Spivey, 615-966-2503.

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New ABA President to Focus on Veterans, Election Issues

Atlanta lawyer Linda Klein, senior managing shareholder at Baker Donelson, was sworn in as president of the ABA yesterday and outlined her goals for the year, which include a focus on veterans’ legal needs, promotion of voting in the upcoming election and support for quality education. A new ABA Commission on Veterans’ Legal Services will provide resources for local legal groups to serve veterans and their families, and explore ways to provide legal services at VA medical facilities. Tennessee will be represented on the commission by TBA Executive Director Allan Ramsaur. The voting initiative, ABA Votes 2016, will provide a state-by-state summary of voter laws as well as resources lawyers can use to encourage participation. Finally, a new education commission will study ways to address substandard education in rural and inner city communities and improve opportunities for children with disabilities.

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Reminder: Indigent Task Force Hearing Thursday

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Indigent Representation Task Force will hold the final session in its listening tour this week. The hearing will take place Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Williamson County Administrative Complex, 1320 West Main St., Franklin, TN 37064. Sign up here to speak.

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NAACP Opposes County’s New Charge on Criminal Defendants

A new $45 fine on criminal defendants will have a disparate impact on the poor, African-Americans and other minority groups, according to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County chapter of the NAACP. The Chattanoogan reports that a resolution from the NAACP argues that the Hamilton County Commission was “ambivalent to the disparity rates, disproportionate ratios and disparate impact” such fees have on these populations. The group also maintains that the commission’s decision relies on a “narrow and stringent interpretation” of the applicable state law. Proceeds from the new fee would be divided three ways: $21 to the Partnership of Families, Children and Adults, $21 to the Children’s Advocacy Center and $3 to the county.

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Missouri Governor Conscripted into Serving as Public Defender

Michael Barrett, director of Missouri’s public defender system, utilized an obscure legal provision to order Gov. Jay Nixon, also a lawyer, to provide legal aid to the state’s poorest defendants, the Atlantic reports. In a letter to Nixon, Barrett said he ordered the assignment in response to Nixon cutting funding for indigent defense and vetoing a bill that would have provided caseload relief to Missouri’s public defender system, which currently ranks 49th in the U.S.
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