News

Bar Foundation Chooses IOLTA Grant Recipients

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands and the Tennessee Justice Center were among those awarded IOLTA grants by the Tennessee Bar Foundation for 2017. Among the 29 organizations given grant funding this year, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Memphis Area Legal Services and West Tennessee Legal Services were also awarded top grants. The recipients are chosen through a very competitive process, according to Executive Director Barri Bernstein. Proposals are reviewed by a 14-member committee, which makes recommendations to the Foundation’s 12-member Board of Trustees, who make the final call.
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MALS Nets Diversity Award

Memphis Area Legal Services received the AutoZone Excellence in Diversity Award at the Inaugural Unity in Diversity awards banquet, hosted by the Benjamin L. Hooks Chapter of the National Black Law Students Association last Thursday. MALS’ Executive Director Harrison D. McIver III said that diversity “is a part of our fabric – a core value that is viewed as a strength that permeates our culture as reflected in staffing and programming decisions.”
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Law Dean Credits Trump for Growing Respect for Lawyers

Lawyers who jumped into action to help those affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration are rising in popularity, at least among those who oppose the policy, the ABA Journal writes. This growing respect for lawyers has led one law school dean to see opportunity. Brooklyn Law School president and dean Nicholas Allard says law schools can build on recent events and highlight the importance of lawyers “to the defense of our rights, the pursuit of justice, and the preservation of our Republic.” Allard writes, “President Trump has made lawyers the breakout stars in the early days of his new administration.”

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Free LSAT Prep Course Offered to Help 'Level Playing Field'

A nonprofit online platform known for its large library of interactive math courses, today announced it will offer free Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) practice materials, working with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). The LSAC will provide financial support for the platform designed by Khan Academy. “We wanted to level the playing field and make law school accessible to all who are interested in pursuing law," Lily Knezevich, the LSAC’s senior director of test development, told the ABA Journal. 

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DOJ Changes Course in Voting Rights Case

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday dropped a claim that a strict voter ID law in Texas was enacted with discriminatory intent, according to the ABA Journal. Opponents had argued the restrictions on which IDs were acceptable were intended to benefit Republicans and white voters who tend to support them.The Justice Department said it was dropping the claim to allow time for Texas lawmakers to consider a bill that would allow more types of IDs. A lawyer representing one of the plaintiffs in the case, Danielle Lang, said that the dropped claim "is a complete 180-degree turn."

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Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic Saturday

The Music City Community Courts, in partnership with the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division, will host an expungement clinic in Nashville on March 4. A high turnout of clients is expected and volunteers are still needed. The clinic will be at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Antioch, 2261 Murfreesboro Pike, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Contact Amber Floyd to volunteer. Other services that will be provided onsite include job interviews, voter registration and CPR training.

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Volunteers Needed for Expungement Clinic Next Weekend

The Music City Community Courts, in partnership with the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division, is seeking volunteers for an expungement clinic in Nashville on March 4. A high turnout of clients is expected as this series of clinics has been very well-attended in the past. The clinic will take place at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Antioch, 2261 Murfreesboro Pike, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Those who are able to volunteer should contact Amber Floyd.
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Clinic for Wildfire Victims Planned for Monday

Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Sevier County Bar Association will work together to again host a free legal clinic for the survivors of the Gatlinburg wildfires on Monday, Knoxnews reports. The clinic will take place at the conference center of the Greystone Lodge on the River, located at 559 Parkway, from 1 – 5 p.m. For more information, contact LAET’s Knoxville office at (865) 637-0484.
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ABA President Supports LSC Amid Reports of Cuts

After the Legal Services Corporation was included in a “hit list” of programs named by the White House budget office, American Bar Association President Linda Klein issued a statement to express her staunch support of the program, The ABA Journal reports. Klein said that “our nation’s core values are reflected in the LSC’s work in securing housing for veterans, freeing seniors from scams, serving rural areas when others won’t, protecting battered women, helping disaster survivors back to their feet, and many others.”
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Volunteers Needed for Nashville Legal Advice Clinic

Volunteers are still needed for the Lipscomb/St. James Legal Advice Clinic on Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. The clinic will be held at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 600 28th Ave. North in Nashville. It will be an advice-only clinic with no expectation that volunteers take on continuing representation. Contact Randy Spivey to volunteer or learn more.

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Tennessee Supreme Court Promotes Statewide #HELP4TNDAY

The Tennessee Supreme Court announced today a series of free legal advice events as part of its Access to Justice Initiative, in which all Tennesseans are invited to get free civil legal help online or in person at walk-in clinics near them. #HELP4TNDAY, as it's called, will kick off in mid-March with press conferences in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Jackson and Chattanooga, where communities will hear from Tennessee Supreme Court justices as well as Tennesseans who have been helped through the program. The events will continue through mid-April. Visit www.help4tn.org to learn more.

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TJC to Host Open House on Monday

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) will celebrate 21 years of legal service as well as a new office space on Monday, and attorneys are invited to attend and join the festivities. TJC will host an Open House and Happy Hour from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the new office, located at 211 7th Ave. N., Suite 100, in downtown Nashville. RSVP to dwhaley@tnjustice.org.

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Gatlinburg Disaster Recovery Center to Close Tomorrow

The Gatlinburg disaster recovery center will cease operations tomorrow, though survivors of the Sevier County wildfires will have until Monday to register with FEMA for assistance. After the center closes, survivors can still get updates online or via the FEMA hotline or mobile app. Those in need of legal aid, however, will have options through Legal Aid of East Tennessee for at least the next six months, including a clinic tomorrow in Pigeon Forge.
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TBA Mashup: LawTech, Mini-Hackathon and More

The TBA will host a one-day conference called TBA Mashup: Opportunities Unlocked on Feb. 17. On the schedule are Pro Bono in Action training sessions, presentations about TBA member benefits as well as CLE programs covering technology updates, cybersecurity, drone law, e-discovery and more. Also planned is a Mini-Hackathon, in which lawyers will learn how a variety of professions find technology-assisted solutions to everyday problems. Finally, TBA staff will be taking up donation items for CASA. Find out more details, a list of items for the CASA donations as well as registration information here.

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LAET Hosts Legal Clinics for Wildfire Victims, More Planned

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) has two legal clinics in the pipeline to assist those impacted by the Sevier County wildfires, with plans for more down the road. The first will be held this Friday at the Boyd’s Bear Donation Center in Pigeon Forge, located at 149 Cates Lane, from 2 – 6 p.m. The second is on Feb. 27, with location details still begin locked down. “We expect legal issues to continue to appear for at least six months. Our plan is to continue holding monthly clinics so wildfire survivors have access to legal advice as issues arise,” LAET’s Knoxville Pro Bono Director Kathryn Ellis says.  Those who can help at either clinic should email Ellis.
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KBA to Host Regular Free Clinics for Vets

The Knoxville Bar Association will host a free legal advice clinic for veterans tomorrow at the Knox County Public Defender’s Office, reports Knoxnews. This year, the association plans to host free clinics for veterans on the second Wednesday of each month. They are expected to serve 20-30 veterans at each event. For questions about how to get involved, email tchain@knoxbar.org.
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WTLS Scores Seniors Grant

In addition to Legal Aid of East Tennessee, West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS) has received a “Serving Tennessee’s Seniors” grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The one-time grant of $15,300 will help WTLS expand senior-friendly access to legal help by creating a SeniorLAW website, which will include videos about legal issues affecting seniors, as well as printed instruction cards for using the website.
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Story Examines State Funding for Indigent Defense

The Nashville Scene today examines claims that a lack of funding has left the Nashville Public Defender’s Office understaffed to the point its case load is unmanageable, and it will no longer take on misdemeanor cases in which the defendant has made bond. The article also touches on similar problems in Shelby County, additional funding for public defense proposed by Gov. Haslam, the Indigent Defense Representation Task Force and more.

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Legal Aid Awarded Serving Seniors Grant

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) was one of 121 state nonprofits and government organizations to receive a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee as a part of the Serving Tennessee’s Seniors program. Funding for the $25,000 grant to LAET was provided by the Chancery Court and administered by the Community Foundation through the settlement of a lawsuit against SeniorTrust and ElderTrust. The program is available to seniors in the following counties: Carter, Cocke, Grainger, Green, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.
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TACIR Approves Report on Study of Court Fees

The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations submitted its report on court fees in the state, concluding that costs in both civil and criminal cases “accumulate and can become overwhelming, preventing people from filing civil cases or creating large amounts of debt in both civil and criminal cases.” The report reviewed existing research and suggested additional data that could be gathered and reported to help address concerns and better inform recommendations. 
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Legal Aid to Host Free Valentine’s Day Clinic

Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) will host a free legal clinic on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Family Justice Center in Chattanooga. The clinic will specialize in offering advice on family law and domestic violence issues, but individuals with any non-criminal issue are invited to attend. For more information or to volunteer, please contact LAET’s Chattanooga office at (423) 402-4758.
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Wildfire Claims Approach $1 Billion

Insurance claims resulting from the Sevier County wildfires have risen more than $100 million from previously reported figures, and now total nearly $1 billion, Knoxnews reports. The most recent report from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance shows total claims from residential and commercial property at upwards of $943 million, nearly double the losses initially estimated by Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters in December. Tennessee attorneys can still volunteer to help with relief effort by signing up via the TBA website.
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Tennessee Justice Center Celebrates 21 Years with Open House

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) will celebrate 21 years of legal service as well as a new office space next month, and attorneys are invited to attend and join the festivities. TJC will host an Open House and Happy Hour on Feb. 13, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the new office, located at 211 7th Ave. N., Suite 100, in downtown Nashville. RSVP to dwhaley@tnjustice.org.
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Legal Aid Society Celebrates Leadership Cabinet

The Legal Aid Society (LAS) celebrated this year’s Leadership Cabinet at a Tuesday breakfast. The Cabinet is composed of 43 firms that contributed $400 per attorney towards the 2017 Campaign for Equal Justice. The campaign has raised $460,501 towards its $826,000 goal, with its official kick-off still almost six weeks away. Firms throughout LAS’s 48-county service area that wish to join the Leadership Cabinet should contact director of development Cindy Durham.
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40th Annual Equal Justice University Planned for Late Summer

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) will host its annual Equal Justice University on Aug. 30 – Sept. 1, at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. TALS is currently requesting that former attendees of the conference share their photos from previous years, in honor of the conference’s 40th anniversary. If you have questions or would like to submit a photo, please contact Samantha Sanchez.
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